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Book Review: Designing Web Usability, by Jakob Nielsen


Designing Web Usability, by Jakob NielsenNovember 10th is World Usability Day. Keeping this holiday in mind, I couldn’t forget about the book written by a legendary person, who devoted many years to studying usability (simplicity and convenience of using web-sites). Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Designing Web Usability, a book by Jakob Nielsen.

Despite the fact that the book was published in the U.S. in 2000, it is still relevant today… in some aspects. ;-)

Initially the book was intended for web masters, but there are also many features for copywriters and Internet marketers. While reading Jakob Nielsen’s book, Designing Web Usability, one is easily reminded of successful and failing sites.

Who rules the Internet? Nope, it’s not Google. It is simplicity and convenience! Each of us gets annoyed with being confused by a pile of hyperlinks, by slow web-site loading or when the site doesn’t answer our questions. Eventually, visitors leave the site and go to another one that doesn’t have such defects.  Thus, dear web masters, we should welcome the book, Designing Web Usability by Jakob Nielsen!

Read also: “Unit Tests, How to Write Testable Code and Why it Matters

Copywriting by Nielsen

Copywriting is the main topic of the whole chapter, Content Development.

Here are four golden rules from Jakob Nielsen’s book Designing Web Usability:

  1. Conciseness and simplicity.  “Most web designers deny simplicity and develop design for their own pleasure”. The same applies to copywriting: make your texts simple and clear. Long sentences with lots of dependent and independent clauses are always difficult to understand.
  2. Convenience for cursory glance. Highlight everything that can hook: unordered lists, subheadings (also good from a SEO perspective for creating h1…h6 tags)
  3. Overly lengthy paragraphs should be divided into smaller ones with hyperlinks to each other.
  4. Learn to write competently or hire someone who can do spell-checking for you,

Next, the author pays attention to the peculiarities of writing headings, applying fonts, alignment, highlighting and using Caps Lock for the Internet. He doesn’t encourage using graphic content: photos, animation, audio, and video.

In Designing Web Usability, Nielsen stresses that while working on usability, one shouldn’t forget about content. If you want users to like your site and to add it as a bookmark in their browsers, not only is it important and needed to have a convenient interface, but to also provide information on the site that is actually useful. An experienced copywriter will perform this task better than anyone.

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