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Preface

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

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