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Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability

ISBN: 978-0-7645-3674-8
368 pages
July 2002
Site-Seeing: A Visual Approach to Web Usability (0764536745) cover image
Although Web usability has received lots of hype, especially during the dot-com meltdown, the focus has been mostly on technical issues. Usability experts stress the pitfalls of frames and too many images on Web pages. They recommend editing out unnecessary words and writing in a non-linear style-all valuable advice, of course. But less frequently do they highlight the importance of the visual presentation of Web pages.

The Web is a communication medium that does most of its talking visually. What you see on a Web page tells you what you might find within the site, how to get there, and why it might interest you-not to mention the instinctive emotional response that shapes your Web experience. As a result, Web usability issues are communication issues. Easy-to-use sites are those that communicate quickly and effectively.

Site-Seeing takes a fresh approach to Web usability by applying visual communication principles and decision-making to Web design. Specifically, readers will learn the key concepts behind visual organization, look and feel, technical considerations, and clear planning that stem from audience awareness. Through numerous, full-color examples author Luke Wroblewski deconstructs "the good, the bad, and the ugly" of Web design.

The visual presentation of a site does more than merely making it pretty. It organizes information according to function. It creates distinct and appropriate personalities. It provides emotional impact and attachment. In short, it engages the audience-and keeps them coming back.
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PART ONE: THINK BEFORE YOU...COMMUNICATE: THE PLANNING STAGES.

INTRODUCTION: Learning to Speak Web.

The Evolution of the Web.

The Usability Era.

What This Book is About.

CHAPTER 1: What Do You Want to Say? Decide on Content.

Know What to Say.

Say it in "Web".

Getting to Know Your Client.

Understanding your client's goals.

Understand Your Audience.

What they are looking for.

How they communicate.

Using profiles and scenarios.

Determining Content.

Writing It All Down.

Referring back to it.

CHAPTER 2: You Need a Plan: Preparing for Content.

Organizing Your Site.

Categorize your information.

Accommodate your audience.

Visualize it: schematics.

Navigating Your Content.

Getting around the site.

Too much versus too little.

People are different.

Visualize it: navigation mock-ups.

Finding Your Personality.

Describe yourself.

Visualize it: sample combinations.

Remembering Your Limitations.

Think technically.

Think globally.

List it: product requirements.

Scheduling Your Progress.

Visualize it: content delivery schedule.

PART TWO: HOW TO...COMMUNICATE: THE THREE LEXICONS OF WEB USABILITY.

CHAPTER 3: Technically It's a Lexicon: Technical Considerations.

Getting Technical.

Responding Promptly.

Paying attention.

Providing feedback.

Unifying the Web.

Breaking the model.

Keep 'em browsing.

Nonstandard interactions.

Incorrect use of conventions.

Following Links.

Different destinations.

Marking the trail.

Assembling the Page.

Keep content dominant.

Being Accessible.

Provide ALT-ernatives.

Leaving a forwarding address.

CHAPTER 4: Birds of a Feather, Flock Together: Visual Organization Principles.

Speaking Visually.

Seeing Information.

Understanding perception.

Forming relationships.

Building a hierarchy.

Using visual weight.

Keeping it balanced.

Educating your audience.

Explaining where.

Explaining what.

Explaining how.

CHAPTER 5: Who Are You? Get a Personality.

What is Personality?

Why Have a Personality?

Say the right thing.

Be unique.

Invite and engage.

Bring it all together.

How to Get a Personality.

Investigating the possibilities.

Using color.

Using type.

Using visual elements.

Using interactivity.

PART THREE: START COMMUNICATING: ONLINE, THAT IS!

CHAPTER 6: Fundamental Particles: The Elements of Web.

Working the Elements.

Know your basics.

Elements and personality.

Navigation Systems.

Keeping it clean.

Providing alternates.

Keeping navigation in its place.

Body Text.

Being readable.

Linking within.

Images.

Eliciting interest.

Part of the bigger picture.

Keeping it small.

Page Footers.

Within the footer.

The footer and the page.

Forms.

Ask the right questions.

Make consistent requests.

Create a visible order.

CHAPTER 7: Home Is A Cluttered Place Indeed!

What Belongs at Home?

Everyone wants to be at home.

Leave it in the garage.

First Impressions.

What's Inside?

The right amount of contrast.

Entrance hierarchy.

Grouping entrances.

New Additions.

Working together.

Getting noticed.

CHAPTER 8: We Are Always Changing.

A Web in Need.

The dynamic advantage.

No longer just browsing.

Dynamic Designs.

Getting to content.

Template power.

Know what to expect.

Generation PLEX.

Our complex nature.

Doing our own thing.

More to Come.

Conclusion.

Permissions.

Bibliography.

Index.
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Luke Wroblewski heads the interface design and new media design and development efforts at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA). At NCSA, he redesigned the Kellogg Company's intranet, codeveloped the Open Portal Inter-face Environment (OPIE), and spearheaded many other Web and interface projects. He has also taught Web design courses at the University of Illinois and presented papers on interface design at professional conferences.
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" a carefully considered text if you are involved in designing a website this is one of the books you should consider reading before you start " (Cvu, October 2002)
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