Web Site Design: Learn From the Best

Book Review: A powerful tool for Web designers, "Homepage Usability," by Jakob Nielsen and Marie Tahir, deconstructs 50 of the most popular Web sites on the Internet and tells readers what works and why.

"Homepage Usability" deconstructs 50 of the most popular Web sites on the Internet—including Amazon.com and Microsoft.com—and tells readers what works and why.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone involved or interested in Web design. It is a powerful tool that can help you create a user-friendly, organized Web site.

For each Web site deconstructed, a screenshot of the site is broken up to show the use of space in terms of eight categories such as navigation, advertising and content of interest. Following that is a diagram of the elements on the Web page that describes problems with the layout, provides suggestions for changing the elements, and details what the authors really like about the site.

This process is repeated for each of the fifty sites examined in the book. The authors of "Homepage Usability", Jakob Nielsen and Marie Tahir, present this book brilliantly. It is aesthetically pleasing and filled with vibrant colors, graphics and full-sized screenshots. As for the content, it is organized and laid out remarkably well.

"Homepage Usability" has many other features, including guidelines on everything from choosing titles for your Web page window to setting up navigation. In another section that I really enjoyed, the authors show graphics from several Web sites together, including logos, search features, shopping carts and "smiling ladies," which are images of people that Web site designers use to add a human element to the pages. This feature shows the preferred methods used by some of the most popular sites on the Internet today.

The book also includes a section that provides statistics on a wide range of Web design choices, listing such things as the percentage of Web sites that place navigational menus in a certain position on the page and the percentage that use a certain background colors or body text style.

  • Title: Homepage Usability
  • Authors: Jakob Nielsen and Marie Tahir
  • Publisher: New Riders Publishing (www.newriders.com)
  • Length: 315 pages
  • Price: $39.99

Other reviews by Pam Cameron can be found at http://wwrg.cjb.net.