In order to become a better developer, I felt I needed to read more about usability. After reading Don’t Make Me Think!, I knew that I wanted a book that was both instructive and fun to read. I chose Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better, by Eric Reiss, and I believe I couldn’t have chosen a better book.

Eric talks about usability in a general way, focusing in usability for the web. The book is full of user stories and real life usability issues, and it’s very fun to read.

The book is divided in two parts, “Ease of Use” and “Elegance and Clarity”, each one divided into chapters. The chapters and their key ideas are:

Part I: Ease of Use

  • Functional: things should work as expected
  • Responsive: things should give proper feedback
  • Ergonomic: controls should be accessible
  • Convenient: related information should be displayed when needed
  • Foolproof: tasks should be easy to perform

Part II: Elegance and Clarity

  • Visible: important things should be really visible
  • Understandable: people should know what’s happening and what’s going to happen
  • Logical: things should follow a logical flow
  • Consistent: a particular interaction should always produce the same result
  • Predictable: things should do what people expect them to do

The topics are covered more deeply than that, but they’re very understandable and they come with lots of real life examples. This book gives precious tips on what to do and what not to do, and it’s a great tool to improve your knowledge on usability.

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