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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Designing Web Usability : The Practice of Simplicity
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Jakob Nielsen
Rating: 1/5
Customer opinion - 1 stars out of 5
Talk about a waste of time!

In this book on web usability, Jakob Nielsen is doing a heroic effort to envision how the average internet user (which equals a potential customer for an e-commerce web page) looks today in the year 2000. The average user can be characterised using many parameters like: Internet connection speed, IT knowledge, internet experience, disabilities, etc. Bottomline is that If you want to design a web site having the maximum impact on all potential users, it is crucial to pay attention to such "facts". Why cut away 5% of all potential customers because they for some reason are unable to use image maps for navigation purposes, or because they lack the ability to distinguish different colors? What you get from this splendid book is an update on what you can do to your web site in order to please the user and in the end (it all ends in business anyway) make sure that this user is converted to a loyal customer. The book is not a technical walkthrough of HTML coding. It is merely a large collection of tips and ideas on how to involve the end user, both mentally and physically, in the process of designing stuff for the internet or intranet. There are many good examples thoughout the book on good practice and worst practice. Considering this being a book on Usability, it is relevant to rate the usability of the book itself also. The design of the book is lavish, with a clear and simple layout containing a large number of useful color illustrations (actually almost 30% of the book are illustrations). I found it, however, fairly difficult to read it in a linear manner because of these large illustrations (sometimes extending 3-4 pages). I do recognize that there is no other way around it, unless Jakob should choose a larger but less handy book format (like the triology of Edward R. Tuftes on information graphics) for his next book. All in all a "must buy" for anybody in charge of anything on the internet which has the potential of being serious business.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Web ReDesign 2.0: Workflow that Works
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Kelly Goto, Emily Cotler
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
I wish some of the people I work with would read this.

Actually, not particularly work with, but the developers in the so-called "web development department" at the company I work for. Reading through this great book, I now know that we very rarely are doing anything correctly.
I do websites on the side and have had some issues with customers and "featureitis", scope creep or what-have-you. Another biggee is inadequate content. The author brings all these up and more.
I wish I'd have had this book years ago. It would've saved me a lot of grief.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: XML for the World Wide Web: Visual QuickStart Guide
Publisher: Peachpit Press
Authors: Elizabeth Castro
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
Development Shops should have this book.

Great overall resource for learning and understanding XML. This is a great place to start if you're not sure how to use XML in your development endeavours. The fact that its the only book i've needed (about xml) is a tribute to how well it's served us in our office.
Great background of the subject, and a great overview of DTD's a majore part of XML's scope. This book will definitly get you up to speed on the world of XML.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: A+ Certification for Dummies
Publisher: For Dummies
Authors: Ron Gilster
Rating: 3/5
Customer opinion - 3 stars out of 5
Buy this book, avoid the CD, then buy another book.

Coming from only a year of hands-on experience, Gilster's book helped to put concepts I had already dabbled in into concise terminology that helped me pass the test. Many of his chapters provided excellent introductory material to concepts of computing and the DOS/Windows environment, which made this book an excellent beginnning to studying for the A+ exam. Unfortunately, the book does has several typos and a few all-out mistakes, but you'll pick those up when you buy a more advanced test prep book.
AVOID THE CD TESTS! The Self-Assessment test is fair but not comprehensive, and the Practice test is riddled with so many mistakes it makes me sick to think about it. One good note on the CD: it provides a number of links to help you find that perfect, SECOND test prep guide.