My Takeaways From The Book Don’t Make Me Think

By Mike Maddaloni on Friday, August 21, 2009 at 03:04 PM with 1 comments

Computers are supposed to make our lives easier, right? Despite this, people still have a hard time using the hardware or software on it. What should be intuitive is not usually the case. This is the premise of Steve Krug’s book, Don’t Make Me Think, as he explores the world of Web design.

How many times have you been on a Web site and you are having a hard time finding information when you know you should be able to easily find it? I am not just talking about novice users here, as this happens to yours truly all the time, and I like to consider myself an experienced Web user! Somebody somewhere made some decision to layout and design a Web site a certain way, and thus your pain. In Don’t Make Me Think, common-sense, straightforward information is presented to the reader, who should be everyone from a Web designer to Web developer to Web site owner.

Needless to say, I had many takeaways from this book, all of which are of equal weight as I believe in what this book talks about quite a bit! Here are a few of them:

Creative Doesn’t Mean Different – Many times I see a Web site or hear from someone who created one that is virtually impossible to use, and it is deemed to be “highly creative.” Where there is more than likely some creative minds behind it, in the end a Web site needs to be usable, and if it is not, then it is merely something nice to look at, but not touch. A Web site can still be creative yet intuitive, and great Web designers know how to do that.

A Redesign of a Web Site Should Be Thorough – Many times when Web sites are redesigned, it is merely a fresh coat of paint on an old home (page). If that is the case, then the design can be hampered by old code behind the scenes, which can hamper its usability as well as its growth. When approaching a Web site redesign, be as comprehensive as possible, including all elements, to prevent the need for more work soon after it is completed.

There Is No Such Things As A Typical User – When we at Dunkirk Systems, LLC work with clients on a Web site, we seek to identify potential users of the Web site. These users are identified by their role or title – media, consumers, students, etc. – and not by their technical ability. In the past, there was always a desire to identify the “typical user” and this meant more about their ability, which related to the complexity of the Web site. Krug backups the notion that there is no such typical user, and I concur from my own personal experience.

Testing a Web Site is Not Just for Experts – Where quality assurance (QA) and usability experts are vital to many Web sites and applications, if your budget does not allow for such experts, you can still do effective testing.

I enjoyed reading Don’t Make Me Think, and I highly recommend it to anybody involved in the creation or maintenance of Web sites, as well as anyone who owns one or who wants to. It is written in a no-nonsense yet lighthearted style that is suitable for the most technical and non-technical people.

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