If you want to understand how and why your favourite web sites are so easy to use, this is the book for you.
Very occasionally I read a book that covers current issues in a practical, lucid manner, such that my outlook is radically altered. I gladly confess that I had many 'Eureka' moments while reading (and re-reading) this book.
This book discusses the factors that contribute to a web site that 'works' - navigation, labelling organising, finding - a book about information, not data. Data are facts and figures; databases provide specific answers to specific questions. Within information systems it is a rare occasion when there is 'right' answer. Sometimes you are after a specific answer 'What is the population of Oxford?'; sometimes you have an area of interest 'Locomotives of the 19th century', no right or wrong here, some answers will be of real interest, others dross, but you are not quite sure which is which until you see it; sometimes you want to exhaustively explore a topic, leaving no stone unturned, so you cast your net wide and drag up everything that you can. So different ways of locating information are reviewed along with behind the scene techniques to assist the user.
Browsing - Users don't articulate their queries, but reach their goal through menus and links. Issues raised include Navigation systems, Sitemaps, 'Where am I?', Indexes, Linking Systems, Thesauri and Controlled Vocabularies.
Searching - Users enter their query and are automatically presented with a customised set of results that match their query. Issues raised include Search Interface, Query Language, Search Zones, Search Results, Nothing found, Thesauri and Controlled Vocabularies.
The book goes on to explore how to apply Information Architecture, putting it into practice and rounds off with a couple of comprehensive case studies.
If you want to understand how and why your favourite web sites are so easy to use, this is the book for you. Highly recommended.