Don't Make Me Think

Don't Make Me Think, Steve Krug, 2000Krug, Steve, Don’t Make Me ThinkNew Riders, 2000

Krug used to write computer manuals, but in 1989 changed to usability testing and interface design. He advocates a common sense approach to web design, and says that there is no ‘right’ way to design, but there are guiding principles that are already accepted, although all are learning their way through a new medium. Krug is a big fan of the Amazon website, and the book has many illustrations from this, and other, sites. He devotes the last three chapters to the importance of testing, and how to test sites.

From the word go sites should be self-evident or self-explanatory, in order to make sites user-focused. Users are the more likely to return if they feel ‘smart’, and by trying to be too clever, you will add to the ‘cognitive workload’, and makes users feel less intelligent. Krug insists that conventions work for a reason, and that if you decide to deviate from this, you must at least understand the rules that you are breaking. Users don’t necessarily understand how the web works, they skim pages, and choose the first reasonable option, rather than the ‘best’ option, and pages must be optimised to allow users the best chance of finding what they want.

Krug devotes a lot of attention to navigation, which he compares with directional/item signs in the supermarkets, although online the user loses any sense of scale, direction and location, and it is up to the web designer to offer some idea of this through navigation elements. Sites should identify a particular need, and try to answer it, keeping the overall site simple. There are many ideals for what a site can involve, but compromises must be made, and designers should avoid the temptation to add ‘just one more thing’. (January 2002)

Buy the 2005 edition from Amazon.

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