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If you are a Website designer, you'll want a copy of this book to read, mark up, and thoroughly digest:

Submit Now: Designing Persuasive Websites


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Review of Submit Now: Designing Persuasive Websites, by Andrew Chak

Reviewer: Mark Lamendola, author of over 5,000 articles, and designer of multiple Websites.

I've been involved in Website design and implementation since 1996. I don't claim to be the top designer, but the success of my sites gives me enough stature to comment on a book like this. First, the downside of this book: It was published in 2003. Consequently, some of the references and information in it are a bit dated. But when you understand the points Chak makes in this book--that doesn't matter. The upside of this book is quite substantial.

When I began reading this, I figured it would be smart to keep a notepad next to the book because I'd probably pick up a pointer or two. I ended up with copious notes and several things to follow up on.

I've read umpteen books, newsletters, articles, and e-mails about Website design. Many of them propose the "right" way to implement a site. That way is "right" because it's the way that particular author does it. Fortunately, Chak stays above the fray, not even venturing into that territory. Instead, he focuses on the theme of getting your Website's visitors to do what you want them to do.

Most "how to do a Website" authors seem to forget why anyone has a Website in the first place--they get lost in the glitzy stuff and forget the site visitor. Chak stays keenly aware of the visitor throughout the entire book. In fact, five of the eight chapters are about Website visitors.

If you have a Website for any reason other than self-stroking your ego, then Chak's book is a "must read." Each chapter provides a solid explanation of key concepts for going beyond simple usability. That's where you want to go. You want to convert visitors into customers.

Chak isn't yet another Web designer who can sling a line of BS and then call it a book. He's a Web designer who has worked for major clients and has amassed the expertise that comes from that experience. He's also a solid researcher, and you can see this in his real-world examples. Add to this the fact that he's a great writer who communicates clearly and you have all the ingredients for an excellent book on Web design. After you read this book, you'll see why Chak is also in demand as a speaker at Web conferences.

This book has the potential to vastly improve the online experience for everybody. The trick to making that happen is to get all Webmasters to buy a copy, read it carefully, and implement what they learned. We can always hope....

A note on style and composition: Form is important, as it dictates readability. Fortunately, this book actually uses Standard Written English (SWE). In an age where most "authors" seem oblivious to basic writing, this book stands out as one where the author actually cares about communicating to the reader. Given the subject matter, Chak's consideration for the reader is a crucial plus.

 

About these reviews

You may be wondering why the reviews here are any different from the hundreds of "reviews" posted online. Notice the quotation marks?

I've been reviewing books for sites like Amazon for many years now, and it dismays me that Amazon found it necessary to post a minimum word count for reviews. It further dismays me that it's only 20 words. If that's all you have to say about a book, why bother?

And why waste everyone else's time with such drivel? As a reader of such reviews, I feel like I am being told that I do not matter. The flippancy of people who write these terse "reviews" is insulting to the authors also, I would suspect.

This sound bite blathering taking the place of any actual communication is increasingly a problem in our mindless, blog-posting Webosphere. Sadly, Google rewards such pointlessness as "content" so we just get more if this inanity.

My reviews, contrary to current (non) standards, actually tell you about the book. I always got an "A" on a book review I did as a kid (that's how I remember it anyhow, and it's my story so I'm sticking to it). A book review contains certain elements and has a logical structure. It informs the reader about the book.

A book review may also tell the reader whether the reviewer liked it, but revealing a reviewer's personal taste is not necessary for an informative book review.

About your reviewer

  • Books are a passion of mine. I read dozens of them each year, plus I listen to audio books.
  • Most of my "reading diet" consists of nonfiction. I think life is too short to use your limited reading time on material that has little or no substance. That leads into my next point...
  • In 1990, I stopped watching television. I have not missed it. At all.
  • I was first published as a preteen. I wrote an essay, and my teacher submitted it to the local paper.
  • For six years, I worked as an editor for a trade publication. I left that job in 2002, and still do freelance editing and authoring for that publication (and for other publications).
  • No book has emerged from my mind onto the best-seller list. So maybe I'm presumptuous in judging the work of others. Then again, I do more describing than judging in my reviews. And I have so many articles now published that I stopped counting them at 6,000. When did I stop? Probably 20,000 articles ago! (It's been a while).
  • I have an engineering degree and an MBA, among other "quant" degrees. That helps explain my methodical approach toward reviews.
  • You probably don't know anybody who has made a perfect or near perfect score on a test of Standard Written English. I have. So, a credential for whatever it's worth.

About reading style

No, I do not "speed read" through these. That said, I do read at a fast rate. But, in contrast to speed reading, I read everything when I read a book for review.

Speed reading is a specialized type of reading that requires skipping text as you go. Using this technique, I've been able to consistently "max out" a speed reading machine at 2080 words per minute with 80% comprehension. This method is great if you are out to show how fast you can read. But I didn't use it in graduate school and I don't use it now. I think it takes the joy out of reading, and that pleasure is a big part of why I read.

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