Category Archives: web usability

Book Review: Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

I just finished reading Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability,” and it was very insightful.
While geared towards website usability, I think a lot of the principles and practices that Krug outlines can apply to designing e-learning, online training, simulations, or just about anything interactive.

Krug writes with a light, friendly style, knowing that many readers of his book are going to be first-timers: people charged with doing usability testing, without hiring a professional.

The book is filled with practical examples of real-life “what works and what doesn’t” graphics and explanations. He highlights the differences between what web designers usually have in mind for the user to do, and what the user actually does. Web pages aren’t really read, they’re scanned for anything that seems relevant or “clickable”. Users don’t take the time to figure out how things should work; they would rather just “muddle through”.

Some design concepts covered from a usability perspective include creating a clear hierarchy and designing navigation, paying attention to conventions (rules are there for a reason!), breaking up pages into clearly defined areas, making it obvious what’s clickable, and keeping the “noise” down – cutting out unnecessary images, navigation, and especially text! Both “happy talk” (useless introductory text) and instructions (users don’t read them anyway, remember?) must die.

Finishing up the book is a clear, concise outline of everything necessary to conduct your own usability tests: materials, preparation, and a handy guide written by an expert.

If you’re in charge of doing any sort of web or interface design, or conducting usability testing, I highly suggest you give Krug’s book a read – it’s short, flows well, and gets right to the point – which, if you’re in a pinch, is a great help!