For many designers usability is the last concern – if the HTML and CSS code is OK and the site displays properly in various browsers, everything is fine and there is no need to bother with how the user feels. Needless to say, this is a very wrong approach.
If you are a real design/development pro, you should be not only concerned about user experience but also try to follow all the latest and greatest trends in usability. This is much easier to accomplish, if you know which the best usability blogs are and read them regularly.
Fortunately, there are some good usability blogs where you can read about all that’s new in the field. However, if you don’t want to waste your time with second rate ones, here are 10 usability blogs which stand out from the crowd and which you do need to follow.
1. Nielsen Norman Group
If you know anything about usability, then there is no way you haven’t heard about Jacob Nielsen – the pioneer and living history of usability. Over the years he published his insights on various blogs but now the place you can find them is here. The blog is regularly updated with fresh content not only by Jacob Nielsen but also by other names in the industry.
For me personally the Nielsen Norman Group blog is a pleasure to read not only because of its valuable content but also because of its brilliant minimalistic design. If you like fancy designs, you will hardly appreciate the beauty of this blog that uses only a bunch of colors and has no images just to fill space but if you are fond of minimalist designs, then you will certainly love it.
2. UX Magazine
UX Magazine has been around for a couple of years and it has managed to become an authority among usability professionals. This site frequently updates its content and they publish quite a lot of good articles. In addition to articles, there are other useful resources, such as usability events (conferences, meet-ups, classes, etc.) you might be interested in, as well as usability jobs, most of which can’t be found on other job sites because they are published only here.
3. The Usability Blog
This Usability Blog with a very lucky domain name is a relatively new site but it looks quite promising. It is not as high ranking as the previous two but in terms of the content it publishes, the quality is comparable.
What makes this site different from all the rest is its UX Tools section. There you can find tools for session replay, heatmaps, eyetracking, etc. These tools are mainly third-party tools and you can’t expect them to be free but still it’s great to have that many UX tools gathered in one place.
4. User Experience Magazine
The magazine of the User Experience Professionals Association – User Experience Magazine – is another good site to visit in order to stay current on usability trends. For each issue they usually pick a topic, such as health care, or collaboration, or mobile, and most of the articles in this issue are about this particular topic.
User Experience Magazine publishes 4 issues a year, so you can’t complain reading them is taking all your time. One of the nice features of the site is that they offer an archive of old issues, so even if years ago you missed an issue, you can still read what’s in it.
5. Usability Geek
If you want more regular and current usability news and analysis, you might want to check Usability Geek. It’s a nice site with lots of good usability articles, written for the ordinary person, not for the academician. The articles offer lots of practical tips, so even if you are not strictly in usability but in design, development, or marketing, you can certainly benefit from reading the site.
6. User Testing
While most of the other blogs on the list are independent magazine blogs, User Testing is not. It’s a company blog but it’s quite good and you will certainly won’t waste your time, if you follow it regularly. The blog offers lots of useful info and the best is that they publish almost daily. The topics they choose are of practical importance and the articles themselves are written in an easy to understand manner. User Testing frequently has different polls, so you can see what other usability pros feel about a given hot topic.
7. The Usability Section of SitePoint
In addition to the blogs that are devoted to usability only, the usability sections of design/development sites are also a valuable source of information. For instance, the UX section of SitePoint is a great source of fresh UX information – from trends, to tools, to howtos for particular tasks. They publish UX articles 3 to 5 times a week, so there is a lot to keep you busy.
8. The UX Design Section of Smashing Magazine
Similarly to SitePoint, the UX Design section of Smashing Magazine is a great resource for in-depth UX news and analysis. They also publish frequently and their pieces are detailed and well researched. Most of the articles are packed with practical tips but in my opinion, if you are a usability newbie, you might not be able to understand absolutely everything. Still, this is not a reason to give up – just keep reading and sooner or later you will have learned enough about usability and you will be able to understand even the most complex ideas.
9. A List Apart
A List Apart used to be an iconic blog years ago and now they have somehow faded but still it’s not a bad site. The style and tone of the site are very different from what you will find elsewhere and probably this is what keeps it afloat – readers like when something is different. A List Apart doesn’t publish way too often and they rarely post UX stuff but when they do, this occasional UX stuff is good, so it makes sense to check every now and then if there are new articles of interest to you.
10. The UX Section of Mashable
Finally, if the other resources on the list couldn’t manage to occupy all your time, here is one more resource to check. The UX section of Mashable nowadays looks like a shadow of its past glory because they haven’t been very active recently but still there is some good evergreen stuff. Let’s hope that this is a temporary slowdown and that in the future there will be more to read.
Since some of these usability blogs publish content quite often, it might not be possible to read absolutely everything. You can browse through the headlines and read only the important articles. Even this might seem too much work but if you care about your customers and visitors, you do need to keep your knowledge about usability trends as current as possible. Usability articles aren’t as hard to read as code tutorials, for example, so you could consider them as a leisure activity, not as another mandatory boring task you need to include in your busy schedule.