28 UX Design, Usability and Web Content Writing Resources


Back to school season is here. If you haven’t already, now is a good time to brush up on your UX design, usability and web content writing skills. I hope you find these resources helpful.

Speaking of back to school, I’ll be giving a guest lecture on User Personas at Fairfield University this Thursday, September 10. I’ll be doing more speaking engagements throughout the year, so please let me know if you’re interested. Thanks!

User Experience Design (UX) Resources

This oldie but goodie from Peter Morville at Semantic Studios is still relevant to the field today. It lays the foundation of UX in a very easy-to-understand way.
2. Starting A Career In User Experience
This 2003 essay from the folks at Adaptive Path is also a few years old but gives an excellent introduction to the field. It really helped me make the transition from agency/corporate project manager to independent consultant.
New York City-based UX Consultant Whitney Hess has a great primer on dozens of UX design resources here.

Online UX Design Webinars and Courses

4. The Basics of Information Architecture – Thursday, October 8, 2009
This 60-minute virtual seminar covers all the basics of what information architecture is and how to practice it. This seminar is for anyone new to the field of information architecture who is looking to get a broad overview of the ideas and methods of IA.
5. Good Wireframes Faster  – Thursday, October 22, 2009
Firing up Visio or Omnigraffle and throwing some boxes and arrows on the default canvas might seem like the quickest way to start designing an interface. But without a systematic approach to creating and communicating designs, your ability to iterate quickly and collaboratively across dozens of pages can quickly erode.
6. Experience Strategy 101 – Thursday, December 17, 2009
Experience Strategy 101 is a primer for designers and design managers who need to get up to speed on the concepts and principles of corporate and design strategy.
Lou Rosenfeld is one the authors of Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, largely considered the bible of user experience design (see books below). His company, Rosenfeld Media, offers a variety of books and seminars featuring the latest UX talent.

Usability Resources

8. Human Factors International
HFI are the go-to guys when it comes to intensive training on usability. I took a bunch of their courses as a corporate web project manager and they were fantastic. Highly recommended for any organization.
9. Search Engine College (SEC) – Web Site Usability Course
SEC offers a number of online courses for web professionals looking to upgrade their skills. This course covers a broad range of web site usability topics, including logical navigation usage, broken link checking, custom error messages, functional feedback forms, design and layout consistency, intuitive ordering and shopping cart processes etc.
Paul Nuschke provides a useful overview of his QTUT usability testing methodology. The article has useful tips for consultants and corporations faced with short testing windows.

Wireframe Resources

Smashing Magazine’s truly excellent collection of all the web wireframing articles you could ever want to read (except for two of mine below). If you’re a wireframing junkie like me you will love these.

Here’s my own philosophy and approach to making wireframes.
This 12 minute video shows you how to make a basic wireframe using Omnigraffle.

Recommended Books on UX Design:

14. Don’t Make Me Think
Steve Krug
This book has stood the test of time as the gold standard of web site user experience and is used by web professionals all over the world.

Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld
Also known as “The Polar Bear Book”, this book defined the practice of Information Architecture back in the 90s and has been revised and updated. The current edition is very helpful for designing large intranets.
Christina Wodtke and Austin Govella
This book inspired me to become a user experience designer. The first edition had a huge influence on my early web design career. Besides the useful update, the second edition also has a great chapter on designing social media spaces.
Russ Unger and Carolyn Chandler
This is a great book for new UX designers or those already active in the field. There are plenty of useful examples of UX documentation and  process templates.
Nathan A. Curtis
Besides giving a detailed overview of the user experience field, this book has lots of actionable ideas that will help you re-think the way you approach UX deliverables.

Web Content Writing Resources

19. Copywriting 101 (Copyblogger)
Copyblogger is a great site about copywriting in general, and Copywriting 101 is an outstanding post in particular. I’m a big fan of Brian Clark and his team. They are very sharp, smart people who will help you whip your web copywriting into great shape.
I took this comprehensive course last year and it really helped my copywriting skills. I’ve followed Bob Bly, Peter Bowerman, Steve Slaunwhite and Michael Stelzner for many years, all of whom are established and successful copywriters. It’s pricey at $300 but well worth it.
Steve Slaunwhite is the author of Start And Run A Successful Copywriting Business. His book and website both have great information and strategies to help you become a better writer.
The folks over at ALA just plain know how to do stuff well on the web. Read these articles and check out the entire site.

23. Nick Usborne’s Guide To Online Copywriting
Author Nick Usborne has organized dozens of his useful web copywriting tips in one place. Very nice.   

Recommended Books on Web Content Writing

Kristina Halvorson
Holy cow do we ever need this book to help websites not suck. I haven’t been this excited about a new web book since Christina Wodtke’s first edition of the Blueprints book. Get this book, read it through, and watch your content soar and your users cheer.

Virginia (Ginny) Redish
I almost danced a jig when this one came out. Just as groundbreaking as Content Strategy for the Web. The two together are a great match.

Dan Furman
This book has lots of no-nonsense tips on writing effective small business web copy. The author’s sarcastic tone takes a bit of getting used to, but he knows what he’s doing.

27. The Well-Fed Writer
Peter Bowerman
While this book’s focus is on building a successful freelance copywriting business, there is lots of good advice on knowing your audience and how to write crisp, clean copy.

Luke Sullivan
A great read and a great book. If you’ve only got room on your shelf for one of these, get this one. It’s that good.

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