Jan Kubr

A book read: Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2008 at 20:34

Yes, I’ve finished reading another book. And not today, but on Friday. I’ve heard about this before, but now I’m actually experiencing it: If you get into the habit, you can read one book a week and later probably more. I wonder how that can change your personality. Ryan Davis said at last year’s RubyConf that the average number of books read by people from the IT industry is one a year. So if you read one a month, you’re on 12 times the average. And if you read one a week..

I think reading broadens your view. Reading a lot broadens it a lot. Even if you can’t name all the things you found interesting in the book a few months later after reading it, I believe it is there somewhere in your mind and it not only influences you, but also will pop up when the situation is right.

Writing a summary like this helps me remembering the book even better and helps you decide whether you’re interested in reading the book yourself.

So. Don’t Make Me Think is a book about web usability. Mostly usability of web sites, rather than web applications, but still pretty useful for webapp developers as well. Since the author preaches the “common sense approach,” the advices are pretty simple:

  1. General advice: Don’t make people need to figure out what you meant by things on your page. Make it obvious (not dumb). The experts will appreciate it as well.
  2. We don’t carefully read everything on the web page. We scan it and click whatever first seems to get us where we want.
  3. Don’t force people make complicated decisions. They are OK with taking more steps if deciding on each is easy.
  4. Don’t have too much text on your page, especially if the text is not necessary (“Welcome to this page!” kind of thing or lengthy instructions).
  5. Navigation should show on which page I am, how can I get to the homepage, in what section I am, and where can I search. Steve is a bit sceptical about using breadcrumbs (a series of links showing how you got to the section you’re currently at) and so am I.
  6. Homepages should answer four questions: “What is this?”, “What can I do here?”, “What do they have here?”, and “Why should I be here – and not somewhere else?”.
  7. Usability testing is neither complicated nor expensive.

I think especially the part where Steve shows how to do usability testing very effectively and cheaply is very interesting. He is planning a whole book on this topic, so that one should be great as well. Btw there’s a lot of tips for further reading in the book, too.

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