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General Usability Resources | Books | Discussion Groups

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Usability References and Resources

There isn't a clear demarcation between usability resources and accessiblity resources. A usable website is more likely to meet accessibility guidelines and most accessible websites meet usability criteria. Nevertheless, in an effort to organize this subject I have divided the resources into usability and accessibility sections. These usability resources cover a wide range of topics: human-computer interaction, human factors, user-testing, interaction design, information architecture, information design, interface design, and related subjects.

General Usability Resources

Eyetrack Online News Study
This compelling study by the Stanford Poynter Project shows that Web users read online news differently than they read print news. Rather than focusing on the graphics first, they focus on the text and quickly scan for key points.

User Interface Engineering Newsletter - UIETips
Free newsletter discussing the hottest usability tips.

How to Get a Usable Website
By Jakob Nielsen, ZDNet, October 5, 1998.,4413,2137664,00.html Jakob Nielsen's Website
Nielsen is one of the foremost usability experts. His website has links to many of his writings, interviews, products and services, as well as to usability news and an explanation of why his website has almost no graphics. Sign up for his monthly newsletter "Alertbox," and read reviews of his excellent book Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity

Usable Web: 703 links about web usability
Usable Web is a collection of links about human factors, user interface issues, and usable design specific to the World Wide Web.

The Elements of User Experience by Jesse James Garrett.
This page leads to a much referenced one-page pdf file that graphically outlines the varied nature of the Web user experience. The page also has a number of other references about usability and information architecture.
The National Cancer Institute is the owner of this site that contains a lot of basic information about web site design and usability.

Win Consumers with Better Usability
By Kevin Scoresby, in e-Business Advisor, June 2000 issue. p.16-22.

Resources for Human-Computer Interaction
This is the appendix of a paper about usability curriculum by some of the leading lights of the usability field. The appendix covers the basic books, papers, journal, articles and so on that are the foundation of the field.

IBM's Ease of Use Website
This is IBM's usability web site. It has an extensive section on web design guidelines that includes a bibliography.

Cost-effective User Centred Design: Web Site Design by Serco Usability Services.
This London-base firm published the results of a project that raised the "usability maturity" of two large organizations. The section on web design covers planning, site structure and content, support navigation, page design, evaluation methods, and management & maintenance.

Boxes and Arrows
Boxes and Arrows is a peer-written e-journal for the professional community involved in information architecture, information design, interaction design, and interface design.

This is a short list of HTML and accessibility validators that will help you see how your coding meets current standards. Validators are important web design and usability tools.


Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity
by Jakob Nielsen. New Riders Publishing, Indianapolis, IN, 2000. ISBN: 156205810x.
Nielsen is one of the foremost usability experts. His website has links to many of his writings, interviews, products and services, as well as to usability news and an explanation of why his website has almost no graphics. Sign up for his monthly newsletter "Alertbox," and read reviews of his excellent book

Web Site Usability; A Designer's Guide
by Jared M. Spool, Tara Scanlon, Carolyn Snyder, Will Schroeder, Terri DeAngelo. Morgan Kaufman Publishers, Inc., San Francisco, California, 1999. ISBN: 155860569x.
This is an excellent book on the subject of web site usability. It reports the conclusions of a number of studies that the author and his colleagues conducted. The conclusions on how web users read news online are similar to those of the Poynter report.

About Face: The Essentials of User Interaction Design
by Alan Cooper. IDG Books Worldwide, Inc., Foster City, CA, 1995. ISBN: 1568883224.
This is the basic handbook for interaction design.

The Inmates are Running the Asylum: Why High-Tech Products Drive Us Crazy and How to Restore the Sanity
by Alan Cooper. SAMS, 1999. ISBN: 0672316498.
This book is an explanation for business strategists about the need for user interaction design in the product design process.

Cost-Justifying Usability
by Randolph G. Bias and Deborah J. Mayhew. Morgan Kaufman, San Diego, CA, 1994. ISBN: 0120958104.
This is one of a very few books that specifically deals with how to determine Return on Investment (ROI) from usability projects. Available at many bookstores.

Built for Use: Driving Profitability Through User Experience
by Karen Donoghue. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, 2002. ISBN: 0071383042. Available at many bookstores.

A Practical Guide to Usability Testing
by Joseph Dumas and Janice Redish. Ablex Publishing Company, 1993. ISBN: 089392990x. Or Intellect Ltd., 1999. ISBN: 1841500208. Available used at many bookstores.

Handbook of Usability Testing
by Jeffrey Rubin. John Wiley & Son, Inc., 1994. ISBN: 0471094032. Available at many bookstores.

Don't Make Me Think: Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
by Steve Krug and Steve Black. New Riders Publishing, 2000. ISBN: 0789723107. Available at many bookstores.

Usability-related Discussion Groups and Associations

CHI-WEB Usability Discussion Group
CHI-Web is a discussion list of the Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) special interest group of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM). You don't need to be a member to join this discussion list.

SIGIA is the discussion list of the Information Architecture (IA) special interest group of the American Society of Information Science and Technology (ASIST). Although you need to be a member to join the SIG, you don't need to be a member to join the list.

Usability SIG
This is the special interest group (SIG) for the Society of Technical Communication (STC). The Topics in Usability section is an excellent collection of resources on topics of interest to usability professionals. The SIG has an email discussion list that is open to non-members. It also has a magazine called "User Interface" whose archives are available on the site.

Usability Professionals Association (UPA)
This organization provides its members with a forum to promote usability concepts and techniques worldwide. It holds conferences, has a quarterly newsletter, and a private online discussion forum.

The Computer Human Interaction Forum of Oregon has monthly meetings in Portland on issues of usability and computer-human interaction.

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