Designing Easy-to-Use Websites

Donnelly 2000Donnelly, Vanessa, Designing Easy-to-use Web Sites: A hands-on approach to structuring successful websitesAddison-Wesley Professional, 2000

Donnelly comes from a software design perspective, specialising in user interfaces, and applies similar principles to web design. The testing of a site by real users throughout the design and production process is stressed as an important element throughout the book, as it is easiest to change elements then, rather than at the end. The book ignores the technology, which dates so fast, and concentrates on the fundamentals of getting web projects to succeed. Web development is now a discipline for a team to work on, rather than the province of enthusiasts, and business models need to be created, and the second half of this book defines the roles of those who are likely to be involved. Chapter 7 particularly concentrates on critical design features such as navigation and readability.

The text is aimed at businesses, and it is stressed that in order to succeed the sites must be user-focused, based in good market research. It is claimed that the changing nature of the web is not always recognised by businesses, and that businesses often to do not recognise the negative impact of a poorly designed site. She feels that there needs to be a shift away from using the web for marketing and advertising messages and a need to apply software development processes, based upon the interactive nature of the web. There needs to be a focus on web sites, rather than individual web pages, and companies must evaluate the business reasons for undertaking the project, then rigorously analyse the user goals and tasks. These goals must be borne in mind at all times: interaction is more important than the aesthetics of a site, the nature of the web is different to that in the ‘real world’, with a need to establish trust, particularly when personal and financial details are requested. (January 2002)

Reviewed for Web Usability and Accessibility Project.

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