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Design of Sites, The: Patterns for Creating Winning Web Sites, 2nd Edition

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Design of Sites, The: Patterns for Creating Winning Web Sites, 2nd Edition


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  • This book contains the most comprehensive collection anywhere of web site design patterns.
  • Includes clear visual organization with color-coded sections for easy reference
  • Focused on customer needs -- teaches designers to discover these needs, design Web sites for them, and evaluate designs to ensure needs are met


  • Copyright 2007
  • Dimensions: 7-3/8" x 9-1/4"
  • Pages: 1024
  • Edition: 2nd
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-134555-9
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-134555-3

<>Praise for the second edition of The Design of Sites

"In my worldwide IBM marketing role, I have the benefit of working with some of the finest international interactive agencies and internal Web teams. As I read The Design of Sites, [I see] the insight from years of professional advice has been put to paper. Nowhere have I seen such a practical, effective, and easy-to-use book to solve and avoid Internet design issues. I keep a copy of the book handy to remind me of the things I forgot and to gain fresh perspectives. It never fails to deliver."
-John Cilio, marketing manager, IBM System x & z Storage Synergy

"The Design of Sites artfully brings forward the original intent of Christopher Alexander’s pattern language into the user experience design arena. It is a valuable and comprehensive reference."

-George Hackman, Jr., senior director of User Experience for User Interface Guidelines, Patterns and Standards, Oracle Corporation

"The Design of Sites is one of the best tools I have in my usability toolbox. [These] Web UI design patterns make it easy for me to show my clients how to get the most usability bang for their buck."

-Claudia Alden Case, usability consultant and interaction designer, Alden Case Enterprises, Inc.

"If only biology class had been like this. Lucid text, bulletproof content, and a comprehensive taxonomy that’s just as much a source of inspiration as it is a production tool. This is a really, really good book. If you build Web sites, read it."

-Marc Campbell, author of Web Design Garage

Praise for the first edition of The Design of Sites

"Stop reinventing the wheel every time you design a Web site! The Design of Sites helps you rethink your Web sites in terms of genres and patterns. Once you have identified the patterns and applied the best practices for those patterns as outlined in this book, you will reduce your design effort by 50 percent . . . at least!"

-Pawan R. Vora, vice president, Information Architecture, Seurat Company

"The content [in The Design of Sites] could make a novice into a seasoned professional over a weekend. Many companies pay a fortune for the information contained in the book’s primary chapters."

-John Cilio, marketing manager, IBM System x & z Storage Synergy

"This book has many handy checklists for what you should and should not do in creating a conventional Web site. Just following the authors’ suggestions would put your site in the top few percent for readability and usability."

-Jef Raskin, creator of the Macintosh computer and author of The Humane Interface

"Now that The Design of Sites has made its appearance, we won't have to put up with those poorly designed Web pages. These authors have captured patterns from successful Web designers, including their own experience in consulting and teaching, and have made this information accessible to all of us. The book is readable yet full of worthwhile information--a valuable addition to any Web designer’s bookshelf."

-Linda Rising, independent consultant and author of The Patterns Handbook, The Pattern Almanac 2000, and Design Patterns in Communications Software

"[The Design of Sites] bridges the gap from theory to practice and makes it possible for people in the Web-design space to use user-centered design principles in their work—without having to undertake extensive training."

-Maya Venkatraman, human interface engineer, Sun Microsystems

"The coverage [in The Design of Sites] is excellent--issues go beyond the traditional ‘design the best page’ focus and do a good job of showing the context. I haven’t seen any other book with the kind of breadth this has."

-Terry Winograd, professor of computer science, Stanford University, and editor of Bringing Design to Software

"With this book as a reference, you can benefit from what companies like Yahoo! have learned and apply it to your site, even if you don’t have a design and research team similarly sized and staffed."

From the foreword by Irene Au, director of User Experience, Google; former vice president of User Experience and Design, Yahoo!

The Design of Sites, Second Edition, is the definitive reference for the principles, patterns, methodologies, and best practices underlying exceptional Web design. If you are involved in the creation of dynamic Web sites, this book will give you all the necessary tools and techniques to create effortless end-user Web experiences, improve customer satisfaction, and achieve a balanced approach to Web design.

After a comprehensive tutorial covering the foundations of good Web site design, you will move on to discover the thirteen major Web design pattern groups. These patterns solve recurring design problems and help design teams avoid reinventing the wheel. Patterns range from creating a solid navigation framework and the all-important home page, to instilling trust and building credibility with your customers and improving site performance through better design.

The book features

  • Coverage of AJAX, the Mobile Web, and online communities
  • Seventeen new design patterns to add to the original ninety, including the new blog site type
  • More than twenty significantly updated patterns
  • 450 four-color screen shots and diagrams, including more than 150 new images
  • Key site elements, including site maps, style sheets, dynamic elements, and customer profiles
  • Clear, visual organization with color-coded sections for easy reference
  • A balanced approach to Web design that takes both customer and business needs into account


Sample Files

Download the Pattern H1 file from this book.


Related Article

Automate the Pagination of Your Web Pages

Author's Site

Please visit the author's website at www.designofsites.com.

Sample Content

Downloadable Sample Chapter

Download the Sample Chapter from this book.

Table of Contents

Foreword xxix

Preface xxxiii

Acknowledgments xli

Part I: Foundations of Web Site Design 1

Chapter 1: Customer-Centered Web Design: More Than a Good Idea 3

1.1 The Evolution of Web Design 3

1.2 The Importance of Customer-Centered Design 6

1.3 Our First Steps toward Unifying Design, Usability, and Marketing 8

1.4 Why We Prefer Customer-Centered Design 9

1.5 Nine Myths of Customer-Centered Design 12

1.6 Applying Customer-Centered Design 15

1.7 Take-away Ideas 16

Chapter 2: Making the Most of Web Design Patterns 19

2.1 What Are Patterns? 19

2.2 A Sample Pattern 20

2.3 How to Read a Pattern 23

2.4 How Much Do Patterns Change Over Time? 25

2.5 How to Use the Patterns 30

2.6 An Example of Using Patterns 31

2.7 Take-away Ideas 37

Chapter 3: Knowing Your Customers: Principles and Techniques 39

3.1 Principles for Knowing Your Customers 40

3.2 Techniques for Knowing Your Customers 50

3.3 Take-away Ideas 67

Chapter 4: Involving Customers with Iterative Design 69

4.1 The Iterative Design Process 69

4.2 Reasons to Use Iterative Design 71

4.3 Designing with Goals and Principles in Mind 73

4.4 Rapid Prototyping 80

4.5 Evaluating Your Web Site 90

4.6 Take-away Ideas 95

Chapter 5: Processes for Developing Customer-Centered Sites 97

5.1 Development Process Overview 98

5.2 The Discovery Phase 100

5.3 The Exploration Phase 105

5.4 The Refinement Phase 106

5.5 The Production Phase 108

5.6 The Implementation Phase 110

5.7 The Launch Phase 113

5.8 The Maintenance Phase 113

5.9 Take-away Ideas 115

Part II: Patterns 117

Pattern Group A: Site Genres 119

A1: Personal E-Commerce 120

A2: News Mosaics 128

A3: Community Conference 136

A4: Self-Service Government 148

A5: Nonprofits as Networks of Help 154

A6: Grassroots Information Sites 161

A7: Valuable Company Sites 167

A8: Educational Forums 174

A9: Stimulating Arts and Entertainment 182

A10: Web Apps That Work 187

A11: Enabling Intranets 195

A12: blogs 201

Pattern Group B: Creating a Navigation Framework 215

B1: Multiple Ways to Navigate 216

B2: Browsable Content 221

B3: Hierarchical Organization 226

B4: Task-Based Organization 231

B5: Alphabetical Organization 235

B6: Chronological Organization 238

B7: Popularity-Based Organization 241

B8: Category Pages 247

B9: Site Accessibility 251

Pattern Group C: Creating a Powerful Homepage 267

C1: Homepage Portal 268

C2: Up-Front Value Proposition 277

Pattern Group D: Writing and Managing Content 283

D1: Page Templates 284

D2: Content Modules 291

D3: Headlines and Blurbs 297

D4: Personalized Content 303

D5: Message Boards 314

D6: Writing for Search Engines 324

D7: Inverted-Pyramid Writing Style 332

D8: Printable Pages 339

D9: Distinctive HTML Titles 343

D10: Internationalized and Localized Content 349

D11: Style Sheets 356

Pattern Group E: Building Trust and Credibility 365

E1: Site Branding 366

E2: E-Mail Subscriptions 372

E3: Fair Information Practices 378

E4: Privacy Policy 384

E5: About Us 391

E6: Secure Connections 398

E7: E-Mail Notifications 402

E8: Privacy Preferences 410

E9: Preventing Phishing Scams 418

Pattern Group F: Basic E-Commerce 431

F1: Quick-Flow Checkout 432

F2: Clean Product Details 439

F3: Shopping Cart 449

F4: Quick Address Selection 458

F5: Quick Shipping Method Selection 464

F6: Payment Method 469

F7: Order Summary 475

F8: Order Confirmation and Thank-You 480

F9: Easy Returns 485

Pattern Group G: Advanced E-Commerce 491

G1: Featured Products 492

G2: Cross-Selling and Up-Selling 500

G3: Personalized Recommendations 510

G4: Recommendation Community 518

G5: Multiple Destinations 526

G6: Gift Giving 531

G7: Order Tracking and History 537

Pattern Group H: Helping Customers Complete Tasks 545

H1: Process Funnel 546

H2: Sign-in/New Account 552

H3: Guest Account 559

H4: Account Management 564

H5: Persistent Customer Sessions 570

H6: Floating Windows 576

H7: Frequently Asked Questions 581

H8: Context-Sensitive Help 587

H9: Direct Manipulation 591

H10: Clear Forms 600

H11: Predictive Input 609

H12: Drill-down Options 615

H13: Progress Bar 622

Pattern Group I: Designing Effective Page Layouts 631

I1: Grid Layout 632

I2: Above the Fold 637

I3: Clear First Reads 641

I4: Expanding Screen Width 646

I5: Fixed Screen Width 652

I6: Consistent Sidebars of Related Content 657

Pattern Group J: Making Site Search Fast and Relevant 661

J1: Search Action Module 662

J2: Straightforward Search Forms 666

J3: Organized Search Results 669

Pattern Group K: Making Navigation Easy 677

K1: Unified Browsing Hierarchy 678

K2: Navigation Bar 682

K3: Tab Rows 686

K4: Action Buttons 691

K5: High-Visibility Action Buttons 695

K6: Location Bread Crumbs 698

K7: Embedded Links 701

K8: External Links 705

K9: Descriptive, Longer Link Names 709

K10: Obvious Links 714

K11: Familiar Language 719

K12: Preventing Errors 723

K13: Meaningful Error Messages 727

K14: Page Not Found 731

K15: Permalinks 734

K16: Jump Menus 744

K17: Site Map 752

Pattern Group L: Speeding Up Your Site 759

L1: Low Number of Files 760

L2: Fast-Loading Images 764

L3: Separate Tables 772

L4: HTML Power 775

L5: Reusable Images 779

L6: Fast-Loading Content 782

Pattern Group M: The Mobile Web 793

M1: Mobile Screen Sizing 794

M2: Mobile Input Controls 805

M3: Location-Based Services 813

Part III: Appendixes 823

Appendix A: Running Usability Evaluations 825

Appendix B: Sample Web Site Evaluation Plan 841

Appendix C: Sample Consent Form 845

Appendix D: Sample Observer Form 847

Appendix E: Online Research 849

Glossary 867

Resources 897

Credits 935

About the Authors 941

Index 943


In 1979, Christopher Alexander wrote his seminal book, A Pattern Language, in which he introduced an innovative yet practical language for architecture, building, and planning. Since then the concept has been applied to other domains, from computer science to user interface design. The fact that what began as an architectural concept has been extended and is still in use today is a testament to its value and validity. Simply put, a design pattern is a generic solution to a commonly recurring problem, whether for software, buildings, landscaping, or Web design.

Design patterns are particularly relevant to Web design because they are so critical to usability. One of the tenets to building a usable product is to support users’ mental models for how things should work. Consistency reinforces and helps build ease of use into a product as users learn over time how to navigate the product and build a mental model for how to perform tasks. Design patterns are a means for capturing such best practices and provide a guide for implementing solutions in a consistent manner.

Design patterns can also help an organization scale as it grows. As former vice president of the User Experience and Design group at Yahoo!, I was faced with the challenge of creating effective designs for our ever-expanding suite of products and services with limited budget and head count. With the team growing rapidly and organized along separate product lines, designers increasingly worked independently of each other, and yet I found many to be solving the same design problems. Harvesting and implementing best practices became critical to Yahoo!’s ability to deliver quality design efficiently and consistently. Moreover, with Web design patterns established, the front-end engineers could create reusable, modular code, thereby improving quality and speeding up our development time as well as design time.

The authors of The Design of Sites often cite Yahoo! in their examples. These designs were based on extensive usability and ethnographic research, capturing the best practices identified. With Yahoo!’s broad product offering, the team has encountered almost every major consumer product and interface issue. With this book as a reference, you can benefit from what companies like Yahoo! have learned and apply them to your site, even if you don’t have a design and research team similarly sized and staffed.

User interactions on the Web are fluid and seamless. With a single click of the mouse, a user can be on a completely different site, which could have its own look and feel and interaction model. Thus, it is more important than ever that the design community understands, applies, and participates in the development of Web design patterns. The more widely common design patterns are used across the Web, the easier the Web will be for users. And that is a good thing for everyone.

To be sure, design patterns are no substitute for thoughtful design, which takes into consideration the constraints and context of its application. But design patterns should be the starting point for anyone designing Web sites and should be followed whenever possible. Designers can start with something known to work and modify or refine it as needed. Time saved from not having to reinvent the wheel frees up designers’ time to focus on product-specific issues and innovations. The Design of Sites forms the basis of how to think about design problems. It serves as a common language for designers to think about problems, develop solutions, and share ideas.

As vast as the Internet is, many Web design problems are repeated at varying levels. For example, at the architectural level, whether a Web site is content, community, communications, or commerce oriented, design patterns can help guide designers to identify problems and to make decisions critical to the success of the overall execution of the product’s strategy. At the user interface level, design patterns help build consistency in the interaction model for completing tasks, thus improving ease of use.

van Duyne, Landay, and Hong, recognizing the various levels at which design patterns can be applied, have captured a wide range of Web design related patterns, and organized them accordingly in this book. The patterns are cross-referenced and many patterns are used in combination with each other. Each pattern is illustrated with examples from a variety of well-known sites with clear descriptions for the rationale, appropriate uses, and pitfalls. As the language of Web design is still evolving, this edition has been updated with patterns that reflect the rapidly changing landscape of Web design. Given the increasing ubiquity of mobile devices and their uses, the authors have also added an entirely new section on mobile design patterns. This unique, comprehensive, and thoughtfully organized book is an invaluable resource for Web design professionals.
–Irene Au, Director of User Experience, Google; Former Vice President of User Experience and Design, Yahoo!


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