In my eyes, I always found Rosenfeld Media one of the sole suppliers of premium UX books. Over the past 2 years I have seen Morgan Kaufmann, the organisation that has been publishing computer science books since 1984 and that was purchased by Elsevier in 2001, really improve its portfolio. Improve it enough to even consider their books premium, not only in terms of content, but also print quality. And not only is their selection of UX books growing every month, but the quality of the books are fabulous.
Back in May I reported about the release of several new books. In this post I will do a quick UX book review of 3 books in particular, these being:
- Practical Web Analytics for User Experience by Michael Beasley
- Measuring the User Experience by Tom Tullis and Bill Albert
- Visual Usability by Tania Schlatter and Deborag Levinson
Morgan Kaufmann UX Books & Quality
One point that I made in my opening statement is that the quality of Morgan Kaufmann’s books is improving with every release they do. Even though the books are ‘paperback’ they feel sturdy enough to take along anywhere.
With UX books I still feel the need to own a physical copy versus a digital copy, the reason being that UX, User Experience, is also a very visual topic. Reading UX books on an eInk ereader such as a Kindle, or even on a tablet really limits the enjoyment factor.
Morgan Kaufmann confirms this feeling for me every time I pick up one of their books and read it. Yes, the ‘feel’ is important but content is king, right? All 3 books reviewed here contain top notch color content which is easy to read and make sense of. Ok, let’s now look at each of the 3 books at a little more detail.
Practical Web Analytics for User Experience
The last time I mentioned Michael Beasley in a blog post, I accidentally linked his name to a famous NBA player who shares his name. I’ll prevent it from happening again. Nevertheless, I think that even the NBA Michael Beasley can learn a thing or two from Practical Web Analytics for User Experience.
Personally, I started with Web Analytics before moving into User Experience. I love data, I love basing decisions on data, I love turning user research into awesome quantifiable data (see Measuring the User Experience below). As UX professionals, Usability Experts, Conversion Optimization… well, you get the gist, we are good at answering the questions on how and why things happen. How and why users do what they do. Web Analytics will tell you in much more detail where and how often things happen.
Michael Beasley’s Practical Web Analytics for User Experience focusses only on Google Analytics as the tool of choice to explain the links between Web Analytics and User Experience. Not being new to either Web Analytics and Google Analytics as a tool I can clearly state that the book is manual, albeit an excellent constructed manual, for anyone looking to learn about Google Analytics.
User Experience is at the center of the ‘manual’ as it will teach you:
- how your users consume your content
- how to track changes with Web Analytics
- measure behavior within pages
- pair data with UX methods such as usability testing and persona creation
The book in turn will help you learn how to use Web Analytics data. You will learn how to segment data, create reports, analyse traffic and click paths, and use the basic functions of Google Analytics. All in all a good book to have, especially if you are a freelancer looking to expand his/her service portfolio.
Measuring the User Experience, 2nd edition
What else can I say about Measuring the User Experience that I haven’t said already. In an article I wrote earlier on Expectation Measurements I discussed the value of measuring and comparing a user’s expectations versus experience.
This book is a great addition to the Practical Web Analytics for User Experience book in such that it again strives to get you more comfortable with data. Sure, the source of the data in this book is focused more on the data that you collect while performing user research, but the bottom line is is that it will help you improve your data analysis skills.
Whilst the gap between Web Analytics and User Experience is getting smaller and smaller gaining insights and making decisions in your projects should all start with data.
The authors mention in the preface exactly what is new in this second edition of Measuring for User Experience. The book now includes (but not limited to) information on:
- new technologies for measuring emotional engagement, including wrist sensors and automated analyses of facial expressions
- advances in eye-tracking technology, including remote webcam-based eye tracking
- new methods and tools for collecting and analyzing UX data, including a variety of online tools
Like the previous book, this is a great reference book when you feel stuck with a set of user research data, but cannot figure out how to derive value from it.
To be honest, this last book (for this blog post) was unknown to me until I received an email from Elsevier. Visual Usability, as described by the publishers themselves is a
practical and concise, hands-on guide to visual design
So if you are visually inclined like I am you are going to like this book right from day one. The book itself is split into two parts:
- The META Principles
- The Visual Usability Tools
With Tania Schlatter and Deborah Levinson at the helms, both proven experts in their fields, the book ‘visually’ takes you through all the various aspects of user experience design. With Consistency, Hierarchy, and Personality topics and how they affect the user in every stage of the online journey, to Layout, Type, Color, Imagery, and Controls/Affordances topics linking the visual ‘tools’ to the META principles.
This book is a pleasant surprise, and a joy to read. It is in a strange way the long expected update, or follow-up, of Luke Wroblewski’s 2002 book Site Seeing, and as such a book that I can highly recommend.