People won't use your web site if they can't find their way around it. Whether you call it usability, ease-of-use, or just good design, companies staking their fortunes and their futures on their Web sites are starting to recognize that it's a bottom-line issue. In Don't Make Me Think!, usability expert Steve Krug distills his years of experience and observation into clear, practical--and often amusing--common sense advice for the people in the trenches (the designers, programmers, writers, editors, and Webmasters), the people who tell them what to do (project managers, business planners, and marketing people), and even the people who sign the checks.
Krug's clearly explained, easily absorbed principles will help you sleep better at night knowing that all the hard work going into your site is producing something that people will actually want to use.
Review By: Noreen Dertinger 12/22/2006Steve Krug's book "Don't Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability" addresses the subject of making Web sites more user friendly. The central theme of this book is established at the beginning and reiterated throughout: “Make your Web site as clear and easy to use as possible for your visitors. Otherwise, they are very likely to abandon your site quickly.”
The main body of the eminently readable book is less than 200 pages long. Krug has mapped out a logical presentation of what Web developers/designers should consider when creating a Web page. Aside from the central message of making things obvious so people needn't think, he points out that many scan Web pages rather than read the content in depth. Based on that insight, he suggests creating a clearly visual hierarchy with clickable items and breaking up pages into clearly defined areas.
Krug outlines elements that can diminish good will, such as hiding desired information (e.g., customer support, pricing, and shipping rates). Another negative is to “punish” people by presenting information in unfamiliar ways (e.g., formatting data strangely, requesting redundant information, and forcing people to wait through lengthy flash intros). Krug promotes and explains the concept of building sites that facilitate quick comprehension by all and are accessible to the visually impaired. He concludes with some general, good practices that will make any Web site more user-friendly. The short chapter “Help! My Boss Wants Me to __________” provides some general thoughts on how to deal with bad design ideas.
Krug provides liberal illustrations and examples throughout the book to help reinforce his message of making things clear and obvious. At the end of the book is an annotated list of the references that have had the greatest impact on the way he thinks about the Web. The writing style is clear and concise, making the book easy and fun to read. Many people will read it in one sitting. The individual chapters are short enough and sufficiently self contained that one can also take the time to read the book over a longer period of time without losing track of the overall message.
As a software quality control analyst by trade, and a volunteer Web page designer and developer in my spare time, I was intrigued be the title, Don't Make Me Think! If all Web pages and software were built with the idea of making things clear and easy to use, everybody would get more out of accessing the Web and enjoy doing so. Unfortunately, many sites and applications are presented to the public before they have been fully thought through. Therefore, I believe this book is a must read for Web page developers. If they follow most--if not all--of the recommendations given, the end result should be a relatively well designed Web page. I would also recommend it as a handbook to all Web application and software development practitioners. The importance of making software easy for customers to use cannot be overstated.
While the focus of this book is on what could be adopted as best Web development/design practices, I also found the material useful in relation to testing Windows- or Web-based software applications. Don't Make Me Think! includes a chapter on usability testing that will be of interest to all types of usability practitioners and testers. Beyond usability testing, anyone involved in testing the functionality of the code will profit from reading and actively using this book in designing tests.
This book should be mandatory reading for everyone involved in the development of Web sites and is also useful for those working on other software development projects.
Review By: Holly Bourquin 12/22/2006Steven Krug gets to the crux of his book in the subtitle, “A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability.” Common sense--which really isn’t all that common--is exactly what this book presents. In a short and readable format, Krug tells us how to keep it simple and, by doing so, how to create Web sites that work for users.
Beyond the basics, “Don’t Make Me Think” provides readers with a sort of Usability 101 course. It has an appeal for everyone on the project, not just the person who would usually provide usability. If everyone on a Web site development project read this book, we could avoid much of the round and round debate and wondering we’ve all experienced.
Using Krug’s simple steps and questions, you can learn how to review sites yourself to determine their usability. The book walks you through the basics of how to conduct usability tests. This is valuable information, especially for low-budget projects. If you aren’t practicing usability on your Web projects because you thought you couldn’t afford it, this book proves that it can be done relatively cheap. From development of a usability test to tips on how to observe participants while the test is being taken, Krug illustrates what you should be doing using examples throughout the book.
The single greatest feature of this book? It’s compact. This book is small, but it isn’t short of information. Each chapter presents a central principle for designing usable Web sites. Well organized subsections, charts, pictures, clever cartoons, and short, direct paragraphs guide the reader to understand the principle and how she can apply it to her project. Read it from cover-to-cover, skim it, or refer to a specific chapter to meet your needs. Regardless of how you plan to use it, the concise and handy format makes the information within accessible.