Back to the User

by Tammy Sachs and Garry McClain

New Riders, January, 2002.
Trade Paperback, 360 pages.
ISBN: 0735711186

Back to the User by Tammy Sachs and Garry McClain Attractive designs, excellent copy and cool special effects like Flash can all be useful on a website, but the most important focus in web design is usability. The users are the ones that will be reading, visiting and interacting with the website. Numerous websites today are so over-produced that they are both confusing to the user and difficult for a web team to easily maintain. Back to the User focuses on developing websites that will appeal to web surfers based on research and analysis of what web users actually what. The authors, Tammy Sachs and Garry McClain, hold positions at Sachs Insights, a company which provides Internet consulting and research. In the book they convey some of the knowledge they have acquired from helping companies establish their online presence and highlight findings from their analysis and research.

From ideas to what to put on your homepage (the book tells you only have about 30 seconds to grab a websurfer's attention!) to tips for when and how to use graphics and icons, the book provides a large amount of good, practical advice for developing a useful website. The most helpful thing about the book is that it points out many common website mistakes that will cause users frustration or to simply ignore a portion of your website, possibly costing you a sale. For example, an inefficient search tool might lead your web users to wander elsewhere. The book provides tips on what an efficient search engine is and how to best design one -- including suggestions for understanding what keywords your users might enter. The book also includes information about conducting your own research, using Flash and plug-ins, when and how to provide online help, site navigation, establishing brands online, online communities and surveys. A must-read for communications, ecommerce and web professionals. Highly recommended.

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This review was published in the March, 2002 of The Internet Writing Journal.

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