Saturday, December 15, 2007

Book Review: Designing Web Navigation

Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience by James Kalbach, published by O'Reilly.  ISBN:0596528108.

This is a book about design, not implementation.  You may have grokked that from the title...  The book's beautifully laid out with lots of shots of real websites scattered across full color pages to help illustrate important points.

This book's really targeted to make you think about how to make your site's visitors best able to easily and repeatedly find content you deem important.  You won't find bits on CSS, Javascript, or Ajax.  Instead you'll find out things such as selecting appropriate navigation menu styles for given contexts, information architectures, the impact of tagging systems, and some of the complexities around search.

The first chapters are pretty academic and can be pretty dry, but they provide good information on content/information architecture.   The rest of the book is an easier read, but that doesn't mean you should skip the first chapters.  Lots of good sidebars call out specific topics -- accessibility is a hot topic throughout the book and gets a lot of sidebar treatment.

The book's full of gems such as how you should consider workflows in navigation (think shopping cart systems, e.g.), or the differences between "lingo" and vocabularies.  There are also a bunch of great references to other works, and each chapter has some nice exercises which are actually pertinent and helpful in making the reader more aware of that chapter's points.

I was surprised that globalization/localization didn't get more treatment in the book, but there are quite a few example screenshots and discussions around international websites.

Overall it's a very interesting, thought-provoking book.

1 comment:

Keith Instone said...

Hi - thanks for the review - a reminder that this is yet another book on my list to buy. By the way, here is James' blog, which has more info on the book.


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