Below is a collection of reviews and feedback on my book, Designing Web Navigation

Full Reviews

Henrique Costa Pereira has a review of the Portuguese version of the book (2009):

As ilustrações e estudos de caso estão em todos os capítulos do site. Nada do que o livro trata é descartável ou não teria uma aplicabilidade no mundo real. Sobre o acabamento do livro ele é impecável. É um dos livros relacionados com web com melhor acabamento que eu vi até hoje. Papel couchè, impressão colorida de alta qualidade e design moderno. Se você trabalha com desenvolvimento, programação, planejamento ou qualquer outra especialidade relacionada com desenvolvimento de sites para web, você deveria ler este livro. Boa leitura!

And here’s another review of the Portuguese version from Rogerio Pereira:

O mais interessante desse livro foi perceber que existem numerosos mecanismos de navegação para que possamos resolver nossos problemas de interface. Não existe uma receita mágica, e sim muito bom senso e testes com quem irá utilizar o sistema de navegação.

O livro possui uma linguagem simples e direta e é recomendado para quem de alguma forma está envolvido em um projeto online.

Here’s another review of Handbuch der Webnavigation, this time from Jens Grochtdreis at F-LOG-GE:

“In meinen Augen ist dieses Buch eine Pflichtlektüpre für alle Informationsarchitekten, Konzepter und Designer. Aber grundsätzlich sollte jeder, der professionell mit dem Internet arbeitet, den Inhalt dieses Buches zur Kenntnis genommmen haben. Es gibt sehr wenige Computerbücher, die sehr gut sind, die das Zeug zum Klassiker haben, die man getrost als Pflichtlektüre bezeichnen kann. Dieses Buch gehört dazu.”

One of the first German reviews is out. Here are Moritz Sauer’s comments in the Phlow magazine (August 2008):

“Auf 400 großformatigen und farbigen Seiten widmet sich James Kalbach ausführlich dem Thema Webnavigation, Webdesign und Usability. Wunderbar gegliedert, mit fundierten und fast schon ausschweifenden Erklärungen, jeder Menge Links und Studien zum Webdesign füttert der Experte den Leser mit Wissen.
[...]
Insgesamt ein tolles, tiefgründiges und wirklich komplexes Werk mit zahlreichen weiterführenden Links und einem wirklich wunderschönen und fast schon anmutigen Buch-Layout. Tipp.”

Deborah Lynne Wiley writes in March/April (2008) issue of Online Magazine (32/2 p. 62):

“Every person who is involved with website development or user interface design should read this book twice. It is packed with so many good ideas and guidelines that it should be a standard on every web developer’s shelf.

[...]

It is a tool book providing the background, reasoning, and examples to help develop sensible navigation and information presentation schemes for websites large or small. Buy it and keep it handy.”

From Jem Matzan on The Jem Report (April 2008)

“It’s an outstanding guide to building effective, professional navigation for sites of all kinds.

[...]

This book is easy to read, exceptionally easy to understand because of the graphical examples, and fun to progress in because of the creative use of color and the excellent chapter summaries and questions.

[...]

In all ways, this is a unique book. It was well planned, creatively executed, and its graphic-heavy style with colorized headings shows that the book itself has an effective interface. So not only is this book about creating user-friendly Web interfaces, but it is also an excellent example of good interface design. There is no doubt that you’ll get an outstanding education in Web interface design from reading this book.”

From Roger Johansson from 456 Berea Street (March 2008):

“Overall this is a great book that I enjoyed reading. The examples and references are current and credible. One area that has room for improvement is the layout and typography, which I think could be more usable. Line-length is a bit too long for the book to be a really comfortable read, and page numbers are smaller than the text on websites designed by ad agency art directors.

But don’t let that discourage you from picking up a copy of this book. My impression is that there is a lot of research behind this book, and I think all web designers and front-end developers can learn something from it.”

Erik Vlietinck writes for the IT Enquirer (Jan 2008):

“Designing Web Navigation is an interesting read for everybody involved in web design. It is a useful reference for those of us who want to create the best web experience and the knowledge it contains can make a difference especially for business sites. “

Aspi Havewala writes on Desicritics.com:

“This isn’t a book in which the author has thrown in a grab bag of his experiences together and presented them with splashy graphics. Instead, Kalbach breaks out concepts, often presenting conflicting points of view (he mentions Alan Cooper’s call to dispense with navigation entirely) and embellishes it with research from the fields of usability and human factors. This approach makes the book feel academic but it doesn’t take away from the readability of the text at all. (In fact, it would make a pretty good textbook for a related course).”

Julie Smyth writes on Cyber Aspect Publishing:

“The Chapters break down into readable sections and I really like Mr Kalbach’s writing style, he’s easy to understand and makes a lot of sense.
[...]
This book was a definite treat for me, loads of information from an experienced interface developer, laid out in a clear and precise manner, lots of great and meaningful imagery throughout the full colour layout … lovely.
[...]
A double thumbs up from me, it’s a great book.”

James Piles has a short review on CertForum.co.uk. He says:

“If you’ve been hired to design a site that’s easy to use and with an intuitive navigation scheme and it doesn’t end up that way when tested, you’re going to be out of a job and your rep as a web designer is trashed. Don’t worry. James Kalbach wrote “Designing Web Navigation” to save your ‘butt’.
[...]
Kalbach’s book is well written, organized, and complete. He really drills down into the subject for you and leaves nothing to chance or guesswork.”

Roy Johnson gives a very brief rundown of the book and ends up the review with this comment:

“I think this is a book which aspires to position itself alongside Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville’s Information Architecture for the World Wide Web and Jakob Nielsen’s Homepage Usability as modern classics of web design principles.”

The UGN Books site has a brief writeup by Fred Showker:

“Well-researched and cited, it’s an excellent reference and superb teaching guide.”

Chris Fawley writes:

“Any Web designer or information architect, or digital library designer will welcome this book, which is full of instances from the author’s practical experience.”

Writing for ClickStart, Steven Kersten has this to say:

“Think of this intriguing book this way: it essentially guides you through the entire field of information architecture and Web design by presenting thorough explanation and discussion of almost every design topic you should be pondering. Weaving bibliographic references through the text, Kalbach gives you enough information to consider your design topic and then access material out in the world to further think about it and solve problems. The chapters are short, but they’re full of information. Not a single word is wasted.
[...]
I can’t recommend this book more highly. Time and again I turn to my bookshelf or to the Web, pause, check Designing Web Navigation first, and find the issue at hand treated clearly and helpfully.”

Reviews on Book Sites

Here are some reviews from BookkooB:

“Verdict: Its a classic and truly indispensable in the user experience library. Well researched, well executed and as comprehensive as you can imagine. A holistic view on the art and science of web design.”

“In conclusion, it is a nice book to read if you want to have a successful website. I had a lot of good ideas emerging from the reading of each parts. To avoid forgetting them, I advise you to have always a sheet of paper not too far from you.”

Most customer reviews on Amazon are positive. Here are few quotes:

Designing Web Navigation seems to have it all in one place, including practice discussion at the end of each chapter and further reading recommendations. The amount of information is impressive. There is not a page without a visual aid of some sort. I certainly like having lots of screenshots of real sites with the commentary of the author. ” (Brett Merkey)

“This handsome volume will help web designers learn how to analyze their business needs and translate them into a workable navigation system for their users. Unlike some other design books, James Kalbach doesn’t shove his own design principals down the reader’s throat. Instead, he cites use cases and usability studies that will help readers figure out which design approach will best suit their needs.” (Susan Prosser)

“VERY VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!…Author James Kalbach, has done an outstanding job of writing a book that shows you how to analyze your business needs and translate them into a workable navigation system for your users.” (John R. Vacca)

“Carefully researched, precise and extremely useful” (Aspi Havewala)

There was this slightly negative review on Amazon from Rodrigo Culagovski Rubio:

“This book is shockingly below O’Reilly’s usual design and quality standards. It’s full of pointless little ‘design’-elements, such as lines, colored backgrounds and entirely useless colored tabs down the outside of the book. The font’s barely legible, and the sub- and sub-sub- and sub-sub-sub- headers are in a light blue and fairly fade into the page background. The pull quotes at the start of each chapter are light grey on light blue, etc. The content is very breezy, seemingly written by and for the PowerPoint generation. Topics are rarely developed for more than one page. There are lists and bullet points and tables galore, but not very many cogent discussions of non-obvious navigation issues. I doubt anybody who’s been working in the web development or design fields (or actually, even using the web) for the past 2 or 3 years will find any new information here. My copy of the book is badly printed, with the darkness of the ink varying from page to page. For a book with the subtitle “Optimizing the User Experience”, you’d think they’d have put some thought into the Reader Experience.”

Customer reviews on the O’Reilly site are also positive so far.

“As an application developer, I found the book extremely useful as it provides a vocabulary which one can use to discuss the User Experience on one’s web site/application. The many examples (screen-shots) of web sites from around the world are extremely helpful as they demonstrate the design concepts discussed in the book… All in all – this book is a must.” (JoshSVUC)

“This is really a fabulous book! It puts exactly under words what each designer tries to do every day.” (Edwin V)

This one from the O’Reilly site had some good criticisms of the book, too:
“The main problem in this part [Chapter 10, Presentation] is that there are different examples for different activities. The understanding of the framework and how to use it would have benefited from an unique example evolving through the activities. There is also a lack of links with the first part, which could be interesting as arguments for the presentation activity.
[...]
In conclusion, it is a nice book to read if you want to have a successful website. I had a lot of good ideas emerging from the reading of each parts.” (Stéphane (NamurLUG))

Dave Stevenson writes this on PC Pro:

“If you want to overhaul a site or need to respond to a flood of ease-of-use complaints, this is a good investment.”

Blog Postings

Joerg Hoewner has a very short review on his blog (9. August 2009):

“Wenn es ein Referenzwerk zum Thema “Web(site) Navigation” geben sollte, das ist es. Dermaßen strukturiert und systematisch (und übersichtlich gestaltet) werden hier alle möglichen Navigationsprinzipien und -systeme erläutert und illustriert…Für jeden Webkonzeptioner, Webdesigner und Webberater ein “Must-read”.”

The Designing User Experience blog has this to say (7. September 2008):

“As the world wide web evolves and rich internet applications continue to be designed and developed, Designing Web Navigation offers a thorough look at designing navigation effectively. Along with Designing Interfaces, this book is one that occupies an honoured place on my shelf, and is another must-read for any user experience designer. The techniques used here can be applied on the web or anywhere interface navigation is used.”

Thomas Duff has a few nice words to say about the book on his blog (29. June 2008):

“Kalbach has compiled a wealth of information here that spans both the theory and the practice of web navigation.  Rather than just say “do this, this, and this”, he starts off with the foundational theory behind how people think about getting around a web site.
[...]
This really should be on the reading list of anyone who designs websites that go more than one page deep. Not only will you design better sites, but your users will thank you.”

On the Enter Venture blog, Patrick Cushing has some good things to say (28. May 2008):

“The book takes the website beginner through the conception of the site, structure, and how to flesh out the details that will frame the way the user interacts with the site.

The final chapter devoted to tagging seemed a bit like an after thought, but that may be due to my prejudice against tagging. It leads to a quicker way to visually summarize a lot of content, but I’ve never found tagging to be particularly useful for navigation.

I think books like Designing Web Navigation can help bridge the divide between developers and subject matter experts. There’s an education that needs to happen on both levels and I think this book is a great place to start meeting each other in the middle.”

Kyle Hayes posted this favorable review on his Rich Internet Solutions blog (16. May 2008):

“James Kalbach does an excellent job describing every facet of this complex and sometimes daunting process in a very detailed yet easy to comprehend fashion. He backs up all the research he has done with references as well as providing great additional reading and other resources. The full-color diagrams and case studies of existing navigations on real-world websites prove invaluable to the reader. One small complaint I have is that for a book on designing navigation, the page numbers are quite small and difficult to glance at when you are flipping through the book. Aside from this small glitch, as it were, this book is a must have in every web developer or designer’s library. Even if you consider yourself to be an expert at web page flow, you cannot go without learning a rule or two, and perhaps some great what not to dos in this book.”

The folks at Subvert Marketing liked the book in their 30 second review of it:

“The book is stuffed with key fundamental navigation concepts that any web designer or developer should know, including user behaviour patterns, functional approaches, analytics research, accessibility, layout and presentation. The author then goes into step-by-step details on how to apply these concepts to your website projects. The sidenotes, graphs, tables and references are also well done.

All in all, Designing Web Navigation is a tremendously helpful resource with contents that benefit both novice and advanced web professionals. You would be remiss not to purchase a copy of your own.”

James Kelway posted a long-ish review on his blog (27. Mar 2008):

“To have books like this define our discipline’s design history, and it gives it more credence. By doing that we set a positive course towards the future where more people gain an understanding of the challenges and opportunities that occur in designing our future online interactions.

Verdict: Its a classic and truly indispensable in the user experience library. Well researched, well executed and as comprehensive as you can imagine. A holistic view on the art and science of web design.”

Rob Price added DWN to his current reading list and has these thoughts (24. Mar 2008):

“The design of each page is almost worth the price of the book alone. A lot of this just reiterates best practices of navigation design but had lots of fantastic sidebars on Usability and Accessibility.”

Jonathan Christopher wrote this about the book on his blog (21. Jan 2008):

“By far, my favorite aspect of this publication was seeing consistently placed sidebar-esque paragraphs titled ‘Accessibility’ which outlined key accessibility concerns tied in with the topic of conversation. There were a number of accessibility concerns discussed in these areas causing me to sit back for a moment to think about how great it was that the author took the time to spotlight this important information.
[...]
Recommended? Absolutely. This is a really great book on a topic which isn’t a primary focus very often. If you work on the Web (especially if you’re a designer) I would recommend you give this book a quick read over a weekend or two. There is some really great information provided which will definitely help you design better navigation systems for your websites.”

Jim Holmes liked the book, too, but wanted more on localization (15. Dec 2007):

“The book’s full of gems such as how you should consider workflows in navigation (think shopping cart systems, e.g.), or the differences between “lingo” and vocabularies. There are also a bunch of great references to other works, and each chapter has some nice exercises which are actually pertinent and helpful in making the reader more aware of that chapter’s points.

I was surprised that globalization/localization didn’t get more treatment in the book, but there are quite a few example screenshots and discussions around international websites.

Overall it’s a very interesting, thought-provoking book.”

Stephen Chapman has this to say on his site:

“Just about anyone involved in creating a web site can benefit from the information in this book. At the very least they will be able to confirm that their current navigation system is working or not working.”

Greg Storey also posts about Designing Web Navigation:

.”..after scanning every page and reading a few snippets here and there, I can assure you this is a book you’re going to want. Maybe not right away, but make sure Santa doesn’t let your chimney scuff his reindeer fur without leaving one of these beauties under the tree.”

Other Feedback

Thomas Vander Wal spotted a copy of Designing Web Navigation at the O’Reilly table at dConstruct and added this comment to a photo of the book in flickr. He says:

“…After a flip through it I really want one. It looks to be quite exhaustive, well designed, and in color. It is a gem of a book.

Janette Toral has this to say in the Sun Star, a Philippine internet news site:

“There are many web sites and books that you can read for guidance. A favorite of mine is http://www.useit.com. “Designing Web Navigation,” (published by O’Reilly Media Inc.) by James Kalbach is another good read.Kalbach’s book is very useful, especially when you are designing a huge site where there are a lot of considerations to be made, such as your navigation style, labeling, site architecture, layout, presentation and social tagging, among others. With so many new features on the web today, we can easily get lost on the things that we can do in our site for the sake of just having them. Kalbach’s book can help in keeping us objective and to base our decisions with the best interest of the user and owner in mind.”

From the Web Architeutre Forum at the University of Greenwich:

“Very comprehensive with hundreds of colour illustartions, this is an excellent book and goes straight onto the key text reading list for the Website Planning course.” (Post from David)

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