Don't Make Me Think
I’ve been told that if you only read one book about web usability, this should be it. So it’s actually the first and so far the only book that I read about the subject, and I am not disappointed.
Written for a broad audience, focused on the web, but taking examples from the physical world, its style could not be better. Everybody can relate to the topic (as we are all users at some point), so I can recommend it to basically anybody, but for people who work at something even remotely related to user experience, it’s an invaluable source. Your product doesn’t even have to be web-based to be able to use these principles.
It’s too basic for veteran designers, developers and product managers - and if you are one of them, you’ve probably already read it anyway. But for everyone else working in slightly related roles, like marketing specialists, technical writers or salespeople, it’s a great read.
It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.
The problem is there are no simple “right” answers for most Web design questions (at least not for the important ones). What works is good, integrated design that fills a need—carefully thought out, well executed, and tested. That’s not to say that there aren’t some things you should never do, and some things you should rarely do. There are some ways to design Web pages that are clearly wrong. It’s just that they aren’t the things that Web teams usually argue about.
The point is, it’s not productive to ask questions like “Do most people like pull-down menus?” The right kind of question to ask is “Does this pull-down, with these items and this wording in this context on this page create a good experience for most people who are likely to use this site?
People often test to decide which color drapes are best, only to learn that they forgot to put windows in the room.
Sadly, though, this is still how a lot of usability testing gets done: too little, too late, and for all the wrong reasons.
Some food for thought for technical writers:
Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.
Another major source of needless words is instructions. The main thing you need to know about instructions is that no one is going to read them.