Don't Make Me Think
6 comments | Posted: 21 August 06 in Books, by Jeremy Flint
I just finished reading the second edition of Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think. The book is short by design which makes it an easy read. In the words of the author, “you can read it on a flight.” Although there are 12 chapters, most of them are fairly short, with only two chapters taking up more than 5 or 6 pages. The author writes with a style that is engaging and witty, which keeps you interested in the book.
He starts out with a brief explanation of why he wrote a second edition and what has changed in this book compared to the first edition. Once he gets that out of the way, he dives right into “Krug’s first law of usability” (hint: its the title). He talks about the way many sites implement the same type of features, and what makes one better over the other.
Krug points out that there is a big difference between how most designers think users see their site, and how those users actually do see it. Designers tend to think that a visitor to their site will read through every single word on the page, taking in all this great copy and information that we spend so much time on. In reality, users scan pages rather than read them. They load a site and immediately begin looking for something that is close to what they think will let them complete the task they have in mind. After talking through these differences, Krug offers solutions to help a site cater more to the user that just scans.
One thing that Krug does keep to a minimum is talk about the proper way to do this or the correct way to do that when building a site. What he does try to convey in this book are some guiding principles for better usability. He discusses proper navigation and sub-navigation techniques as well as arranging content so that it is clear what section of the site a user is in.
The two chapters in the book that Krug commits the most time to covers what are probably two of the most important parts of any site: Navigation and the Home Page. He talks at length about navigation, specifically using the navigation to show a user where they currently are and where they have been. In both cases, real world sites are used to illustrate examples of good and bad navigation design. Krug also exalts the usefulness and importance of the breadcrumb.
If you have been thinking of conducting usability testing, but wrote it off as a luxury that you or your client couldn’t afford, Krug helps smash that myth. With as little as $300, you can run a simple usability test. He even goes as far as to provide details of how to set up the test and a script you can follow if you are unsure of exactly what to ask.
All in all, this is a great book for web designers at any level. It helps put little nuggest of information in your head that you can pull out when designing and building a site to improve things as you build them. If you are new to usability, this book will help show you some simple solutions to common usability issues. The bottom line is that improving the usability of your site will improve your site overall, and this book offers the advice that will help you do that.
Discuss This Topic
Comments closed after 2 weeks.