Learn What Usability Really Is, Why to Strive for It, and How to Achieve It
"Highly useable" software is easy to use. It does what you expect it to. And it does it well.
It’s not easy to build but as this book demonstrates, it's well worth the effort. Highly useable software is highly successful software--and everyone wins.
Inside, an accomplished programmer who has made usability his business systematically explores the world of programming, showing you how every aspect of the work is implicated in the usability of the final product. This is not just an "issues" book, however, but systematic, real-world instructions for developing applications that are better in every way. As you'll learn, there's no such thing as "intuitive" software. Instead, there are just the factors that make it highly useable: simplicity, consistency, the recognition of accepted conventions, and the foregrounding of the user's perspective. With these principles under your belt, you'll quickly discover dozens of ways to make your applications more useable:
Making windows and dialog boxes easy to comprehend and use
Designing software that is time- and resource-efficient
Making your software easy to navigate
Reducing the complexity of reports and other presentations of data
Understanding how the wrong programming decisions can limit usability
Ensuring smooth starts and stops
Capitalizing on the usability advantages of object-oriented programming
Understanding how usability affects your product’s financial success
Using the testing process to improve usability
Promoting usability in training, installation, and online help
Making management decisions that will benefit software usability
Some chapters are written primarily for programmers, one primarily for managers. Most are for everyone, and all are filled with illuminating, usually amusing examples drawn from both inside and outside the technical world. A helpful appendix provides information on standards, usability groups, and sources for more information.
Jeff Cogswell has been programming in several languages for many years. His background was previously in telecom, writing software for such strange things as network management protocols. Lately, however, his work has focused more on web development. After spending a few years in both Florida and California, Jeff now lives in Michigan. He's holding out for some warmer weather.