Shaping Web Usability: Interaction Design in Context

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Overview

"Al Badre's book is about an everlasting truth--a truth that many people, many companies, many organizations have learned the hard way. That is, when designing technological systems for people to use, one must take into account the characteristics of the users, and the nature of the task, and the knowledge, experience, biases, strengths, and weaknesses that the users bring to the task. In the case at hand, the task is using the World Wide Web."

--James D. Foley, coauthor of Computer Graphics: Principles and Practice

All successful computer applications have one thing in common: They are designed with the user in mind. Author Al Badre has for years contributed to the ideas and methods needed to make any computer application fully usable. In Shaping Web Usability, he adapts and applies this firmly rooted knowledge and practice specifically to the Web.

Badre recognizes that Web sites comprise a unique application, where designers face a host of complex issues, including dynamic content, a broad and diverse audience, multiple entry points, intolerance of steep learning curves, and one-click abandonment. And with the arrival of handheld devices, Web designers confront additional difficult issues. Offering a structured approach to Web usability, Shaping Web Usability describes several contexts in which each site must be viewed, from the genre to which it belongs to the individual page. The book then provides a concrete methodology for designing a site effectively for the convenience, practicality, and pleasure of its users.

Inside, Web designers will find useful information on such topics as:

  • Links, buttons, site maps, and indexes for smooth site navigation
  • Keywords and site search engines
  • Effective design of home, content, and transaction pages
  • Achieving a balance between Web usability and impressive graphics
  • Retrofitting Web pages for small-screen and mobile devices
  • Addressing users' information-processing limits
  • Designing Web sites for older adults
  • Addressing the international cultural context of the Web
  • Specific guidelines to support design excellence
  • Using an iterative design process with continuous testing to
  • maximize Web usability
  • Constructing storyboards and interactive prototypes
  • Conducting task analysis to discover the sequence of events visitors use to reach their goals

Numerous real-world examples illustrate the book's concepts, techniques, and guidelines. This one book puts decades of knowledge and experience into the hands of every Web designer.

0201729938B12172001

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
There is no shortage of material on web site usability (see Computer Media, LJ 3/1/02). Hot Text shines in its comprehensive coverage of online writing. One will find information on XML and writing for database-driven sites; creating FAQs, blogs and newsletters, and online r sum s; and becoming a web writer or editor. Although it does not break any new ground, Back to the User is a solid summary of current thought on the "user-centered" approach, covering both writing and design. It largely focuses on business sites, with additional information on e-commerce and branding. Both titles are appropriate for public libraries. Shaping Web Usability, while more academic, also addresses specific issues such as designing for older adults and handheld devices. Recommended for larger public and academic institutions. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From The Critics
Presents a user-centered approach to designing web sites that considers human factors during the development phase. The author discusses the importance of defining the audience and ensuring smooth navigation through the site, and explores concepts for enhancing consistency, coherence, placement of information, information coding, color, and text clarity. Color screenshots. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201729931
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley
  • Publication date: 1/28/2002
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert N. Badre is a leading contributor to the field of human-computer interaction (HCI). He is the founder and head of Interfacile, a consulting company specializing in Web usability, interface design, and HCI. In addition, he is a professor in the College of Computing and an adjunct in the School of Psychology at Georgia Tech, where he founded the university's master's program in HCI. He has written numerous papers in the field and lectures worldwide.

0201729938AB12172001

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Read an Excerpt

I got great pleasure from writing this book. Most satisfying is knowing how readers can use the book and how it will help them in their work. I tried to put myself in the reader's place, considering possible questions and seeking the answers—not unlike the approach I recommend for the Web design process. The emphasis on users comes from my own experience. I provide arguments showing the need for a user-centered approach to Web design and present a methodology for the systematic consideration of users during design and development.

The reader will notice that I focus on design rather than implementation. Design principles and methods are long range, whereas implementation is tied to technology, which is often short-lived. This book is about designing usable Web sites—Web sites that are easy to use and that provide a pleasant, enjoyable, and successful user experience. It also examines the proposition that designing usable Web sites requires employing the Web-specialized methodology of designing for context.

In my daily life as a human interface researcher and practitioner, I am often asked by Web developers and site owners for solutions to their problems, for guidance about design, and for sound ideas to make a difference in approaching the users. End users have also come to me with questions about using Web sites and software systems. Their confusion could have been avoided if designers had employed a more careful process when developing Web sites and Web application interfaces. This book explains this careful process. It answers the questions of Web developers, provides solutions to a wide range of development problems, and offers specific guidelines to support design excellence at every step in the process.

Accordingly, this book draws heavily not only on research findings in the design and behavioral sciences but also on my own extensive experience as a Web usability consultant and practitioner. I target primarily Web developers who need to know about designing usable Web sites, but the general "Web-interested audience"—those who want to design their own Web sites—will also benefit.

This book is not written exclusively for Web designers and developers but is also geared toward reaching those who want to learn about human computer interaction as it is specialized to Web environments. Web researchers will also find the book helpful because it covers Web usability issues that must be considered for emerging technologies and environments where there are limited research and experience. These environments include mobile Web environments and wireless technologies. In general, this book is for anyone with a serious interest in making the human-Web interactive experience gratifying and productive.

The book is structured around the "Web contexts": treatments of the Web environment, the user, the Web genre, the Web site, and the Web page. A separate chapter is devoted to each. The book also does the following.

  • Delineates a user-centered approach to Web design
  • Tackles the usability issues of retrofitting Web pages for small-screen real estate as well as designing for mobile devices
  • Takes up the challenge of the encounter between Web art and Web usability
  • Discusses how to evaluate the usability of Web sites
  • Addresses the cultural context of Web design

The book presents many Web examples that illustrate concepts, techniques, and guidelines. This clarifies the close relationship between theory and practice, and thus narrows the potential gap between the researcher's interests and the practitioner's needs.

Albert N. Badre September 2001

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Table of Contents

Foreword.

Preface.

Acknowledgments.

1. Human Computer Interaction for the Web.

From Human Factors to Usability: A Short History of HCI.

Origins.

Focus on the User Interface.

User Interface Software.

Usability.

Focusing on the Web.

HCI Principles for the Web.

User-Centered Design.

Early Human Factors Input.

Task Environment Analysis.

Iterative Design and Continuous Testing.

Web Usability.

Themes.

Designing for Context.

Designing for the User Experience.

2. Web Usability Strategy.

Scenarios.

Context.

The Userview Process.

Goals and Requirements.

User Culture.

Web Interface Guidelines Specialization.

Constructing Storyboards and Interactive Prototypes.

3. The Web Environment.

The User Environment.

The Physical Space.

The Cognitive Space.

The Site Environment.

Scenarios.

Designing from Scenarios.

Simple versus Enriched Site Environments.

4. The Web User, Part 1: The Audience.

Understanding the Web User.

Defining an Audience.

Individual Differences.

Cognitive Processing Capabilities and Limits.

Generating an Audience Profile.

5. The Web User, Part 2: Older Adults.

Older Adults and the World Wide Web.

Characteristics of Older Users.

Movement Control.

Perception.

Cognition.

Web Design Features to Avoid.

Design Guidelines.

Usability Testing with Older Adults.

6. Designing for Web Genres.

Genre Content.

Genre Expression.

Genre Form.

Genre Evolution.

Genre Mixing.

7. The Web Site.

Conceptualizing the Site with a Visitor-Centered Focus.

Positioning the Content.

Speeding Up the Response.

Smoothing the Navigation.

Links.

Buttons and Controls.

Site Maps, Content Lists, and Indexes.

Landmarks and History Trails.

Keywords and Site Search Engines.

Assuring Reasonable Confidence in the Site's Privacy and Security.

Making the Site Visible.

Maintaining Quality.

8. The Web Page.

General Page Design Issues.

Consistency.

Coherence.

Placement of Information.

Information Coding.

Color.

Text Clarity.

Home, Content, and Transaction Pages.

The Home Page.

The Content Page.

The Transaction Page.

9. The Aesthetic Factor.

Usability and Aesthetics.

Simplicity and Enrichment.

The Use of Graphics.

10. From Desktops to Handhelds.

The Technology of Wireless Devices.

The Usability of Wireless Devices.

The Role of Context.

Small-Size Effects.

Effective Functionality and Task Preferences.

Information Presentation.

Interaction and Navigation.

Designer's Palette: Guidelines for Hand Web Design.

11. The Cultural Context.

Cultural Usability.

Culture-Specific Designs.

Designing for the Localized Web.

Genre-Localized Attributes.

Behaviors and Practices.

Icons, Symbols, Pictorials, and Artifacts.

Conventions and Formats.

Intangible Values and Dimensions.

Preferred Content.

12. Evaluating Web Usability.

Traditional Usability Testing.

Usability Testing for the Web.

Web-Focused Issues and Testing.

Web-Specific Test Plan Issues.

Web-Specific Evaluation Issues.

The Process of Web Evaluation.

Usability Evaluation Goal Setting.

Early Paper Testing.

Storyboard Testing.

Interactive Prototype Testing.

Frequently Asked Questions about Usability Evaluation.

Bibliography.

Index. 0201729938T01102002

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Preface

I got great pleasure from writing this book. Most satisfying is knowing how readers can use the book and how it will help them in their work. I tried to put myself in the reader's place, considering possible questions and seeking the answers--not unlike the approach I recommend for the Web design process. The emphasis on users comes from my own experience. I provide arguments showing the need for a user-centered approach to Web design and present a methodology for the systematic consideration of users during design and development.

The reader will notice that I focus on design rather than implementation. Design principles and methods are long range, whereas implementation is tied to technology, which is often short-lived. This book is about designing usable Web sites--Web sites that are easy to use and that provide a pleasant, enjoyable, and successful user experience. It also examines the proposition that designing usable Web sites requires employing the Web-specialized methodology of designing for context.

In my daily life as a human interface researcher and practitioner, I am often asked by Web developers and site owners for solutions to their problems, for guidance about design, and for sound ideas to make a difference in approaching the users. End users have also come to me with questions about using Web sites and software systems. Their confusion could have been avoided if designers had employed a more careful process when developing Web sites and Web application interfaces. This book explains this careful process. It answers the questions of Web developers, provides solutions to a wide range of development problems, and offers specific guidelines to support design excellence at every step in the process.

Accordingly, this book draws heavily not only on research findings in the design and behavioral sciences but also on my own extensive experience as a Web usability consultant and practitioner. I target primarily Web developers who need to know about designing usable Web sites, but the general "Web-interested audience"--those who want to design their own Web sites--will also benefit.

This book is not written exclusively for Web designers and developers but is also geared toward reaching those who want to learn about human computer interaction as it is specialized to Web environments. Web researchers will also find the book helpful because it covers Web usability issues that must be considered for emerging technologies and environments where there are limited research and experience. These environments include mobile Web environments and wireless technologies. In general, this book is for anyone with a serious interest in making the human-Web interactive experience gratifying and productive.

The book is structured around the "Web contexts": treatments of the Web environment, the user, the Web genre, the Web site, and the Web page. A separate chapter is devoted to each. The book also does the following.

  • Delineates a user-centered approach to Web design
  • Tackles the usability issues of retrofitting Web pages for small-screen real estate as well as designing for mobile devices
  • Takes up the challenge of the encounter between Web art and Web usability
  • Discusses how to evaluate the usability of Web sites
  • Addresses the cultural context of Web design

The book presents many Web examples that illustrate concepts, techniques, and guidelines. This clarifies the close relationship between theory and practice, and thus narrows the potential gap between the researcher's interests and the practitioner's needs.

Albert N. Badre
September 2001

0201729938P01102002

Read More Show Less

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