At college, my Interaction Design teacher recommended several textbooks, among them Don’t Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, by Steve Krug. I read its 2nd edition, and it’s a-w-e-s-o-m-e.
The book is based on Steve’s work as a usability consultant, therefore it shows a real and practical facet of web usability. It’s probably the best book on the topic for beginners. Among other topics, the book covers:
- User patterns
- Wise use of copy
- Navigation design
- Home page layout
- Usability testing
My favorite parts were about navigation design (I made improvements on several projects I was working on) and usability testing - I even managed to conduct a few simple usability tests, and the feedback I received was priceless.
Even though the book is a bit old (the 2nd edition is from 2005), its key ideas are still valid, and every web professional should read it.
Book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0321344758