Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better

Technology now is pushing everyone to have some sort of presence on the internet / mobile. Whether it be a Website, iPhone App, iPad App, Android App, or even a Windows Mobile App, design and development needs to happen. Since I am a developer who also advises on designs for websites and apps, I read as much as possible on usability, user experience, and user interfaces that work well. Technology is changing at such a pace that requires new coding languages, new ideas on designs to fit the current theme of what is being released on the internet.

Eric Reiss did an exceptional job writing Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better. He gives a topic and why certain designs / functions should be along a certain path. Filled with perfectly explained examples of best cases and worst cases you feel like your discovering a new world with him. I read it on the Kindle iPhone app and felt like I should just highlight the entire book because it was so incredible. To spare you everything that is explained in the book I will quote some great points he made. That being said there are hundreds more in this book and URGE you to read it! I don’t care if you’re a developer, designer, or a domestic engineer this book will open your eyes to flaws in the world. You just have to decide if you want to be a part of the fixes or the errors in the world.



  • “if you are going to fine-tune any pages on your site, you should concentrate on your forms.” (349 – 350)
  • “most of Europe doesn’t have states, provinces, or regions. That means if you make this a required field, there is no way for a large part of the world to complete this form…ask for the country before asking for other address information and have the form adjust itself” (376-377,  381-382)
  • “When testing the business rules, the idea is not to see what works, but to try and break the system. Ask your family to take a shot at it. This is a remarkably effective way to spot some basic problems.” (400 – 402)
  • “When testing stuff, follow whatever instructions you have been given to the letter! If the instructions don’t work or don’t make sense, you are going to run into functional problems, so be on the lookout for these kinds of issues and fix them. It’s also a good idea to keep everything in the same language.” (434-436)
  • “the faster a page responds to your request, the better the conversion.” (462-463)
  • “How often have you clicked something without knowing whether the machine/ server/ strange-mechanism-in-cyberspace has actually gotten your message? Pretty often, right? A simple electronic “Have a nice day” might be appreciated…The lesson here is this: If you ask someone to do something— and they do it— give them some sign of acknowledgement.”(691-693 ,702-703)
  • “when people skim a list, they look at the first word after the bullet symbol. Occasionally, this word entices them to read the entire link…when you prepare lists— lists of links in particular— you want to make sure the most important words are right at the beginning, not at the end.” (1020-1021, 1042-1043)

NOTE: All page numbers are based on Kindle version


Buy the book here: Usable Usability: Simple Steps for Making Stuff Better


Update 9/1/2013

I tweeted my review and Eric Reiss read it and responded!