Don’t Make Me Think

If you have or are planning a web site, you should read Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug.

Oh, you want to tell you more.

Don’t Make Me Think is subtitled “A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability” and that’s exactly what it is, written in a clear, lighthearted, easy-to-understand tone with plenty of illustrative examples. Krug admits he’s designed to book to be read by an executive on a long plane flight, so it’s brief and direct.

It’s not about HTML coding or snazzy interfaces or frontends for dynamic pages. It’s about making a web site that real people (like your customers and clients) can — and will — use. And it’s about the avoiding poor decisions because no one paid attention to how the decisions were being made.

The book covers how people use the web and how to design sites that match people’s actual behavior. Starting with the first law, don’t make me think!”, Krug moves on to the way people initially scan a web page then delve deeper and the need to design pages for scanning. He delves deeper himself in the issue of navigation, particularly “signage” and “breadcrumbs” (those little textual lists of where you are in the structure of the site). And he devotes a whole chapter to one of my ongoing struggles when working with many designers — the fact that the page, particularly the home page, is out of our control. I confess I don’t keep my pages as tight or my text as brief as Krug recommends, but we all have our faults and I like to give more complete information to my visitors.

There’s considerable excellent information on low-budget (I mean really cheap) useability testing, how to interpret the results, and how to fix what needs to be fixed in the most cost effective manner.

This is one of those books that pays for itself in project savings. Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability is a book I wish I’d had on the last 3 large web startup projects I worked on. It would have saved hours in pointless meetings and tens of thousands in wasted dollars. Even if you are planning a simple “brochure” site of a few pages, this book would be worth reading to avoid making major design blunders.

So don’t think about it, buy it.

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