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Website user research books

I was asked today to recommend 2 books that would give someone new to large site design (large organisational web/intranet as opposed to small ‘branding’ site) a good grounding in how to find out what people wanted to use the site for, how to create a usable site, and how to make sure that it would be accepted by management.

What would you recommend?

I’ll tell you what I recommended in a week…

8 Responses to “Website user research books”

  1. Matt Goddard Says:

    Blueprints for the web is must!

    I’ve read the polar book, about face and inmates are running the asylum all of which are really good books but Wodtke’s book eclipses those simply because the information is so accessible! When I was reading it I felt like I was having a chat with the author, not learning about something as “mundane” as IA.

    My second recommendation would be About Face 2 because embracing and understanding goal directed design is a must in my opinion.

  2. Ron Zeno Says:

    With recommendations like “About Face 2″ you could very well accomplish the exact opposite of what you set out to do. It’s an embarrassment – a reverse compass.

  3. Matt Goddard Says:


    I’d be interested to know what you dislike About Face 2. If you don’t want to fill Donna’s comment box then feel free to email me.


  4. joe Says:

    I’m enjoying Mike Kuniavsky’s “Observing the User Experience.” Well-researched and -written, it seems to provide all the pre-construction stuff someone would need. I’d probably then second Christina’s book…and add Jesse James Garrett’s “Elements of User Experience” to gain the 10,000-foot (3,000-meter) view, enabling the person to converse with money-dudes about why’s & wherefores.
    One reason recommend About Face 2.0 is its concentration on HOW to use personas and such…

  5. Ron Zeno Says:

    About Face:
    - Quality of information: Extremely poor, especially when compared to amount of information.
    - Quality of persuasiveness: Poor. Author blames developers (whom he never defines) for a vast array of problems, repeatedly, though the author is himself a developer. Appeals to others who likewise want to blame others for problems while hoping their own expertise is unexamined. Author invents words and phrases rather than use existing ones, then fails to properly and consistently use them.
    - Amount of useful information vs persuasive information: Extremely poor. Appears to be nothing more than a lengthy advertisement for the author’s consulting company, which he hopes no one will actually read closely.

  6. Lyle Kantrovich Says:

    I’d second the recommendation for Mike Kuniavsky’s “Observing the User Experience.” I just got it a while ago, so haven’t read it all, but seems like a very nice overview of user *research* methods. It’s not a primer on UCD…

    Looking back at your question though, I’d also recommend a class on the UCD process rather than books. A class can give them a good overview quickly, and allows for targeted dialog with a seasoned practitioner/instructor. Some of the tutorials before the UPA or CHI conferences would fit the bill.

  7. donna maurer Says:

    Good suggestion Lyle, but we are in Australia and I know that this person’s employer would not send her to the US for this ;) We have OZCHI later this year, but there are rarely introductory tutorials.

    Maybe another workshop for me to write…

  8. donna maurer Says:

    Great suggestions guys. I’m incredibly pleased that Mike Kuniavsky’s book was so recommended – that one was a very easy recommendation.

    Second was pretty hard – I had in mind Christina’s, the Polar Bear and Jeff Veen’s ‘old’ Art & Science & settled on recommending Christina’s book. I think that these two will get the person off to a great start.