I’m always reading new books – the web is constantly changing and I need to keep up. However, some things don’t change for the better and I’m a big fan of common sense when it comes to putting things together for my clients’ websites.
If you’re writing for your website there are two books that are essentials – and are funny too.
When a cat is dropped it always lands on its feet and, when toast is dropped, it always lands with the buttered side facing down. I propose to strap buttered toast to the back of a cat; the two will hover, spinning, inches above the ground. With a giant buttered-cat array a high-speed monorail could easily link New York with Chicago. (John Frazee, in the Journal of Irreproducible Results)
If you’re struggling to work out what this quote could possibly have to do with web usability, it’s about accessibility and the difference between what’s possible and what’s practical.
If you’ve got a website that you haven’t run usability checks on, this book is a great way to ensure that you don’t end up in a situations where:
You think it’s great
Your designer thinks it’s great
Your existing clients (who don’t use it any more) think it’s great
Your wife/husband/sister/mother/brother thinks it’s great
The client you’re trying to attract can’t find what they want/ can’t read it/ gets frustrated/ leaves!
It’s a really easy read and the suggestions don’t require a degree in technology to understand – or to put into practice.
The other book is Eats Shoots and Leaves by Lynn Truss. If your grammar, spelling or punctuation is prone to vary depending on the phases of the moon, this is a must-read book – served up in a light-hearted and amusing way with lots of examples of people who have got it wrong.
Why is this important? It’s all to do with perception. People make judgments based on their perception of your literacy, attention to detail and professionalism – or at least that’s what they judge when you say things like ‘I hope your well*’ in an email or put commas in the wrong places and have no idea of the rules of apostrophes (annoying little things that can completely change the meaning of a sentence) or what inverted commas are really for.
If you struggle with dry business books, these two will be a refreshing change.
*This should be ‘I hope you’re well’; your is the possessive – as in ‘the well belonging to you’! I always want to reply ‘You hope my well is what?’