Digital Media

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Don't Make Me Think, second edition, by Steve Krug

In Don’t Make Me Think, second edition, Steve Krug follows his own usability guidelines to create a book that is practical and approachable. The title of the book is also Krug’s first law of usability. The purpose of Web pages should be evident without spending a lot of effort trying to determine what it’s about.

One of the most enjoyable parts of Don’t Make Me Think is Krug’s sense of humor. With cartoons and humorous quotes to help him make his point, I never felt like reading this book was a chore. The illustrations and humor help to reinforce the concepts of the book in my memory and apply them to other sites I visit.

Krug says the reality of Web pages is that people will scan to find something that seems to match what they are looking for and simply hit the back button if it doesn’t work. For this reason, he says Web sites should be designed like billboards by: having a clear visual hierarchy, making use of conventions, having clearly defined areas, making it obvious what’s clickable and minimizing noise. Krug also says that users don’t mind clicking — as long as they don’t have to think about what they are clicking.

Another rule that Krug emphasizes is to omit needless words. He advises removing half of the words on each page and then getting rid of half of what’s left. As an editor and as a Web site visitor I appreciate having concise information that directs me to where I want to go without a lot of unnecessary noise.

Krug’s book is ideal for both beginners and experts. While the book offers an easy-to-follow overview of Web usability for the novice, it helps veterans to look at Web pages from the point of view of the user and offers common-sense approaches to such daunting tasks as usability testing and designing for people with disabilities.


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