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Book Review – Designing the Obvious A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design



Author: Robert Hoekman, Jr.
ISBN: 032145345X
Publisher: New Riders Press
256 pages
Published: Oct 2006

I have to admit that although I love all the new bells and whistles that come with each new upgrade of my favorite software, I sometimes use the older versions. Why? Because the older versions have a lower learning curve and are less complicated to use. This is also true for the internet and the new web technologies. Many website designers continue to create simple, static webpages because they are easier to create and their readers find them easier to use.

Designing websites today isn’t as easy as it was just a few years ago, especially with the increased popularity of Ajax and other new scripting languages. Websites are becoming more like desktop applications and less like those old static pages. Of course, internet users expect to see these new features on your websites and that’s the way it should be. After all, that’s what makes the internet so exciting. However when creating these new, powerful twenty-first century websites, you also need to keep them user-friendly. The author, Robert Hoekman, Jr., shows you how to do just that in Designing the Obvious.

He begins by explaining his approach to designing user-friendly websites. He covers the basics such as understanding the user and evaluating what new features to use on your site. He uses many well known websites to demonstrate how today’s new web technologies are being used successfully. After discussing how to design your site for these new website improvements, he then shows you how to implement them into your site.

Once you have the wireframe, or blueprint, for your site, he identifies the usual problem areas and common mistakes and shows how to avoid them. I especially liked the section that covered how to design user-friendly web forms. Web forms are still the best way to collect information from your site visitors for many web applications and the author shows you how to use the new technology to improve the usability of your web forms. He shows may ways to add what he calls Help Aids that assist the user as he progresses through the form and how to design your forms so that user mistakes are almost impossible.

Robert Hoekman, Jr. is a professional Interaction Designer and Usability Specialist. He has authored many books and training courses in this area.




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