The Design of Sites: Patterns, Principles, and Processes for Crafting a Customer-Centered Web Experience


Creating a Web site is easy. Creating a well-crafted Web site that provides a winning experience for your audience and that enhances your profitability is another matter. It takes research, skill, experience, and careful thought to build a site that maximizes retention and repeat visits.

The authors of The Design of Sites have done much of the research for you. Based on extensive investigation and analysis of more than 100 of the highest-quality Web sites, this book distills the...

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Creating a Web site is easy. Creating a well-crafted Web site that provides a winning experience for your audience and that enhances your profitability is another matter. It takes research, skill, experience, and careful thought to build a site that maximizes retention and repeat visits.

The authors of The Design of Sites have done much of the research for you. Based on extensive investigation and analysis of more than 100 of the highest-quality Web sites, this book distills the principles and best practices that make sites enjoyable to visit and a huge asset to the organizations they serve. This comprehensive resource features numerous design patterns that offer proven solutions to common Web design problems. These patterns are appropriate to a wide variety of site genres and address every aspect of Web site design, from navigation and content management to e-commerce and site performance. In addition to enhancing the usefulness and quality of your site, the patterns outlined in The Design of Sites will also shorten development cycles and reduce maintenance costs.

You will find discussion on such topics as:

  • Understanding your customers' needs through field studies, interviews, surveys, and focus groups
  • Decreasing development time and improving quality through rapid prototyping
  • Creating browsable content and multiple ways to navigate a site
  • Learning principles for designing a powerful homepage
  • Writing for search engines
  • Building trust and credibility with a privacy policy and secure connections
  • Designing a shopping cart for e-commerce
  • Cross-selling and uWeb sites
  • Designing effective page layouts
  • Developing a fast and relevant site search function
  • Optimizing your Web site for fast downloads
  • Creating Web pages accessible to people with visual or hearing impairments
  • Adapting for international audiences
  • And much more

Whether you are involved in building a site for business, government, education, or entertainment, The Design of Sites will help you focus on the needs and expectations of your customers and give you the tools you need to create a satisfying and effective Web site.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780201721492
  • Publisher: Pearson Education
  • Publication date: 7/12/2002
  • Pages: 762
  • Product dimensions: 7.42 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.22 (d)

Table of Contents

Pt. I Foundations of Web Site Design 1
Ch. 1 Customer-Centered Web Design 3
Ch. 2 Making the Most of Web Design Patterns 19
Ch. 3 Knowing Your Customers: Principles and Techniques 31
Ch. 4 Involving Customers with Iterative Design 61
Ch. 5 Processes for Developing Customer-Centered Sites 87
Pt. II Patterns 107
Pattern Group A Site Genres 108
Pattern Group B Creating a Navigation Framework 183
Pattern Group C Creating a Powerful Homepage 227
Pattern Group D Writing and Managing Content 243
Pattern Group E Building Trust and Credibility 315
Pattern Group F Basic E-Commerce 351
Pattern Group G Advanced E-Commerce 409
Pattern Group H Helping Customers Complete Tasks 461
Pattern Group I Designing Effective Page Layouts 503
Pattern Group J Making Site Search Fast and Relevant 529
Pattern Group K Making Navigation Easy 545
Pattern Group L Speeding Up Your Site 601
Pt. III Appendixes 625
App. A Running Usability Evaluations 627
App. B Sample Web Site Evaluation Plan 643
App. C Sample Consent Form 647
App. D Sample Observer Form 649
App. E: Online Research 651
Glossary 669
Resources 695
Credits 727
About the Authors 731
Index 733
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You are probably wondering how this book is any different from the numerous other Web design books out there. This unique book is not about programming or any specific technology. Nor is it a quick fix for all of the problems you and your team will face in developing a Web site--no single book can do that. What this book does offer are principles, processes, and patterns so you can develop successful customer-centered Web sites. With this customer-centered focus, your Web site can be relevant, self-explanatory, and easy-to-use.

Creating a Web site is easy. Creating a successful Web site that provides a winning experience for your target audience is another story, and that is what this book is about. And when you are finished, it will be a valuable reference tool to keep on your desk. You can turn to it again and again as you design, redesign, and evaluate sites.

Certainly, your target customers1 will differ. Depending on your business, they might be members in a club, or students of a university, or concerned citizens, or paying shoppers. The goals of each of these audiences will also vary, but the challenge is the same: creating an interactive interface that provides tangible value to the people who go there.

The patterns in this book provide you and your team with a common language to articulate an infinite variety of Web designs. We developed the language because we saw people solving the same design problems over and over again at great time and expense. The patterns examine solutions to these problems. Here are our best practices from our consulting experience, our research experience, and our Web development experience, put together in one place.In The Design of Sites, we give you the tools to understand your customers better, help you design sites your customers will find effective and easy-to-use, shorten your development schedules, and reduce maintenance costs.

If you do not have "customers," think of "target audiences." One focus of the book is on designing e-commerce Web sites; however, you can successfully apply the majority of the content to make any Web site better.

Who Should Read This Book?

This book is written for anyone involved in the design and implementation of a Web site. Its focus is tilted more towards Web design professionals, such as interaction designers, usability engineers, information architects, and visual designers. But this book is also written to be a resource for anyone on a Web development team, from business executives to advertising mangers to software developers to content editors. The best possible team will understand and buy into the customer-centered design philosophy, because every person on the team influences how the Web site is shaped and formed.

Web design professionals. Start with Chapters 1 and 2 to understand the motivation for customer-centered design and the patterns approach to Web design. If you already have a strong background in the principles (Chapters 3 and 4) and processes of customer-centered design (Chapter 5), you can skim these chapters and move quickly to the patterns themselves (Part II of the book). If you have less experience, these three chapters on customer-centered design and development should prove useful for whatever kind of Web site you are developing.

Business managers. Please read Chapters 1 through 5 to understand the business consequences of ignoring customer-centered design, as well as to learn the principles and processes required to build a customer-centered site. If you manage an e-commerce site, the risk of project failure is greatest. These chapters show techniques you can use to reduce this risk, decrease feature creep, and minimize implementation and maintenance costs. Customer-centered design will also help you shorten development schedules and increase overall customer satisfaction--and consequently, client satisfaction too.

Business clients. If you are the client who funds development of a Web site, read the first five chapters. Since you are paying, you will be especially interested in why there is such an urgent need for a strong customer focus, and what steps design teams can take to ensure that your customers' needs are met. You will see why these steps will actually reduce your costs and give you happier, more loyal customers.

Benefits of Using The Design of Sites

We know that improving your customers' Web experience will take more than reading this book. The principles, processes, and patterns in this book are not a magic solution to your problems. However, by putting them into practice in the design and evaluation of your Web sites, you will improve the overall customer experience. Success requires an extreme focus on customer needs, but one that will pay off in the long run. Your work will result in the following benefits:

Improved customer satisfaction. By focusing on your customers throughout the development process, you will discover their needs, design Web sites for those needs, and evaluate those designs to ensure that the needs are met. You will test your site iteratively with representative customers to make certain that you work out the majority of problems before they cause serious problems, and before they become expensive to fix. Customer-centered design concentrates on making sure you are building the right features on your Web site, and that you are building those features right!

A balanced approach to Web design. Too many books read like ancient scripture, as in "Thou shalt do this" and "Thou shalt not do that." Such approaches are too dogmatic for Web design, which needs to be flexible and adaptable to a wide range of situations. The Web has led to more customer diversity, as well as a wider range of customer goals and tasks than was commonly seen in the past. However, we also acknowledge that customer needs must also be balanced with your business goals, usability requirements, aesthetics, and technological constraints.

That is why we aimed for general principles, processes, and patterns that can be applied to many Web site genres. We integrated the three together in one book because each is part of a comprehensive solution: the patterns provide a language for building Web sites; the principles and processes provide the instructions on how to use the language.

Incremental improvement of design practices. It is unlikely that anyone has time to read and put into practice an entire book about designing customer-centered Web sites in a short period of time. So we have divided this book into many small, digestible parts. The first five chapters describe the key ideas behind customer-centered design. The rest of the book is devoted to Web design patterns that can be applied to practically any Web site. You can skip around, mix and match, skim, and sample what you need. This is not a book that you must read from cover to cover.

The ideas in this book do not require a wholesale adoption. You can take small parts at a time and try them out to see what works for you. In fact, we encourage many small steps instead of a few big leaps, because it takes time to become practiced in the many ideas presented here. For example, you could improve your design practices by using the design patterns that comprise the bulk of this book. Or you can use some of the techniques described in the first part of the book, such as observing some representative customers using your site. It can often be a humbling experience, but it will help ground your perceptions in the way your customers think, and, in the long run, improve the overall design of your site.

Conventions Used in This Book

The following typographical conventions are used in this book:

Constant width courier type

is used to indicate HTML tags and code examples.


is used to indicate the pattern name, the pattern group (letter and color), and pattern number. In this case, A2 means the second pattern in pattern group A.

Blue italicized text

is used to indicate Web pages and Web sites we reference.Disclaimer

We use many screen shots of Web sites in this book to illustrate examples of good and not so good design. We offer kudos to the Web teams and companies that made the good designs. However, the examples of not-so-good design should not be construed as an attack on the company or its Web site. Wrestling the technological, economic, and organizational beasts can be quite an endeavor, and change can be slow, even in Internet time. Besides, we are all still learning. We are all in this together.

We Would Like to Hear from You

Please send us your comments, questions and any errata. Although we cannot update your copy, we will organize your feedback on our Web site.

We are especially interested in finding out how well particular patterns worked for you and comments you have on improving them. We plan to share new patterns that you have discovered with other readers of the book. You can reach us at our e-mail addresses .

1We use the term customers for any person that will use the Web site you are designing. We use the term clients for the people for whom you are doing the work, the people providing the funding.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2003

    Extremely Helpful

    Although this book was slightly difficult to get the hang of reading...once I figured it out I found that this book is far superior to anything that I have read so far on this topic. It shows how to do and why and tags all related topics to each other. It is like the bible of good site design. Highly recommend that if you design sites you get this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2003

    A top tier book on developing customer-centered web usage.

    Have you ever wondered why you return time and time again to certain web sites yet there are others you wish not to return again? One of the measurements of site success is customer retention. In order to retain your customers, you must know and understand them. Not all web sites have the same customer requirements but they do share some of the same principles. Van Duyne, Landay, and Hong provide the guidance to explain the differentiation of site categories, what they have in common and what customers expect out of them. They reveal how the top benchmark sites are developed from the customer viewpoint. They explain how a customer should know where they are on a site and to navigate, even if they enter the site 5 layers down. The authors define eleven site genres and then discuss the various patterns that best fit specific type of site or general to multiple types of sites. There have been many books written on web usability and design ... but this book provides the reading experience that can be applied to any site. Have you ever wondered why you return time and time again to certain books yet there are others you wish not to return again? This book is a 'pager returner.' This book is highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2002

    Finally a design book that cares about usability

    I admit it; I'm a sucker for web design books. Whenever a book comes out on the subject, I tend to rush to buy it, hoping it can show me how to improve my craft, and make the designs I create better and more effective. Most of the time I'm disappointed because the book is simply a paean to whatever the latest and 'greatest' is in the world of hip and hot design. I don't want to know how to make what's hip and hot...I can figure that out for myself. What I want is to see how I can implement proven strategies that help users (my users) get things done as they use the product. And that¿s the true strength of this book; it¿s what it¿s all about. With almost 100 'patterns' of website design, this book breaks it down in simple, easy-to-get terms, that I, a technical usability specialist can understand and then turn around and reproduce. It's almost like a cookbook, in the sense that the book shows me: 1) What the patterns is, how it¿s used in the real world, and different flavors of it 2) Why the pattern is good, how it¿s been successful, and in some cases how it¿s been refined. 3) How the pattern works, what are it¿s components, and what does it need to be successful 4) And finally, what other patterns it¿s like, and how by incorporating parts of other patterns, I can strengthen my users¿ experience. I want this¿I don¿t have time to be reinventing the wheel every time my employer or a client wants a site. I need to be able to pick up a reference book and see exactly what a `community¿ site (or one of a hundred other types of sites) is like, so I have a good starting place to work from as I delve into what the project sponsor wants. This book helps me by already doing the leg-work of research into best practices, common features, and pitfalls. By giving me that already, I don¿t have to spend time doing figuring that stuff already out, and rather can spend time doing what¿s important¿listening to my client, employer, and user base to figure out how to meet their specific needs, and make them all happy. That¿s easily worth the price of admission.

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