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Usable Usability. Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better

  • ID: 2253529
  • Book
  • June 2012
  • Region: Global
  • 256 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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I stopped reading because I was tempted to steal stuff for my next book!"
Steve Krug, author of Don′t Make Me Think

If you′re serious about creating great user experiences, this is a must–read book! Eric′s insights on usability are reinforced with delightful examples and are presented with a business–smart perspective that few others can match."
Richard Dalton, Senior Manager, Experience Strategy & Measurement, The Vanguard Group

"I just want it to work!"

That′s what "usability" means to the user. It′s about whether a product or service does what the user wants and expects it to do. And that′s what makes people want or not want what you have to sell. This book is packed with suggestions, steps, and guidelines to help you create products and services that do what users want. Many of them are unbelievably simple. They just work.

How to create usable stuff

  • Have clear goals for what you want to accomplish
  • Use the checklists in each chapter to help you spot potential problems
  • Learn what makes users happy or not happy
  • Discover three keys to responsiveness
  • Put logical reasoning to work for you
  • Improve profitability by improving usability
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Introduction xvii

Part One 1

Chapter One Functional 3

The three keys to functionality 5

From click to conversion: making sure the buttons work 6

Browser wars, hardware headaches 7

Don t sweat the home page. Fine–tune your forms 8

Four keys to creating functional forms 9

Required fields 9

Forms and business rules 10

Interdependent forms 11

Instructions and functionality 12

Navigation: Getting folks where they want to go 14

My crappy new TV 14

Understand your goals and keep them in focus 15

A true story about a fairy tale 15

Functionality can change over time 17

A complaint is a gift 18

The Donation That Couldn t Be Made: A Tale from the Trenches 19

Chapter Two Responsive 25

The myth of two–way communication 26

Three traditional keys to responsiveness 26

A fourth view: Responsive design 27

Wake up, you stupid machine! 30

A closer look at transitional techniques 33

Transitional techniques and physical objects 35

Response mechanisms in the online environment 35

Response mechanisms in physical objects 37


Chapter Three Ergonomic 43

Henry Dreyfuss: Introducing ergonomics to industrial design 44

Buttons: Why bigger sometimes is better 46

Milliseconds count 48

Bring on the scientists 49

First word after the bullet 50

Tabs and other keyboard shortcuts 53

Provide clearance 54

Go to the back of the line 55

Improve work organization 56

Eric and the IRS 56

The silent usher 58


Chapter Four Convenient 63

Giving inconvenience a positive spin 64

Eric s advice for the lovelorn 66

Multimodal experiences 66

Switching routines 67

Why I hate calling my bank 68

Switching interfaces 69

Switching from on– to offline 70

Unfamiliar situations highlight convenience 71

Personas and other useful tools 73

Context is the kingdom 73

Make everything people need available 76

Three clicks and you re dead 77

Buying Vacuum–Cleaner Bags Sucks: A Tale From the Trenches 79

Chapter Five Foolproof 85

How the RAF can help win your battle 86

People forget to do stuff. So help remind them 86

Alerts and other warnings 87

The boy who cried wolf syndrome 89

Forcing the issue 90

The dangers of personalization 91

The magic of redundancy 92

Write helpful error messages 93

Helping people make better decisions 94

Not everyone can spll 95

People don t read instructions 96

Don t make people memorize your messages 98

Sometimes you do have to state the obvious 100

People don t remember things from one time to the next 100

Physical deterrents 101

Exploding Chicken Alfredo: A Tale From The Trenches 104

Part Two 109

Chapter Six Visible 111

Four ways things become invisible 114

The mysterious fold 115

People do scroll! 116

Why we can t pinpoint the fold 116

When the fold is important 120

When the fold isn t important 122

Creating scroll–friendly pages 123

Unfriendly scroll–friendly pages 123

Scrolling, menu length, and mobile phones 124

Don t make important stuff look like an ad 124

USA TODAY .com and banner blindness 125

Blocking out the sum 127

Eric s Enlightening Elevator Examination 129

Sherlock, Edward, Don, and Ch i 130

The Perks of Business Travel: A Tale From The Trenches 132

Chapter Seven Understandable 137

What is shared reference ? 138

A word about words 138

Eric s light bulb test 139

Five keys to creating effective shared references 141

Creating a comfort zone 143

Don t be afraid to tell your story 144

Photos and other visual aids 146

Icons and other troublemakers 148

As big as a breadbox 149

The sun never sets on the World Wide Web 150

Audio and video 152

For Whom The Ringtone Tolls: A Tale From the Trenches 153

Chapter Eight Logical. 157

Three basic types of logical reasoning 157

The magic word why 158

Functionality and logic 158

Responsiveness and logic 159

Ergonomics and logic 159

Convenience and logic 160

Foolproofing and logic 161

Design dissonance 162

Use cases 164

Linear processes 166

Six Detours on the Road To Usable Navigation: A Tale from the Trenches 167

Chapter Nine Consistent 171

A caveat 172

Seduced by synonyms 172

Keeping things homogeneous 172

Retroductive inference revisited 175

Standardization promotes consistency 177

Don t take consistency for granted 178

One button, one function 180

One icon, one function 182

One object, one behavior 182

Speed Limit Signs in Denmark Putting Brains into Top Gear: A Tale from the Trenches 184

Chapter Ten Predictable 189

Six ways to enhance predictability 190

Knowing what to expect 191

Branding, customer satisfaction, and expectations 192

Helping set expectations 193

Instructions revisited but never visited 194

Telling folks what you expect 195

Let folks know how many steps are involved 195

Let people know which process they are actually in 197

Put things where folks expect to find them 199

Warn of invisible conditions 200

A Short Introduction to McDonaldization: A Tale From The Trenches 202

Chapter Eleven Next steps 207

Guerilla–style usability 208

Formalized think–aloud tests 208

Making usability part of the business case 209

Invention or innovation? 211

Accidents can never be attributed to a single cause 212

Don t draw a conclusion based on an isolated incident 213

Bibliography 217

Index 223

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Eric Reiss
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