Saturday, July 26, 2008

Don't Make Me Think A Common Sense Approach To Web Usability, Second Edition, Steve Krug-- Review

Don't Make Me Think A Common Sense Approach To Web Usability, Second Edition, Steve Krug-- Review

Don't Make Me Think is a book about web usability. Usability is basically how easy it is too efficiently use a website. It tests how to make a website easier for the average visitor.

This book gives you insights into how to make a website easy to use. The first principle is to make your website as obvious as possible. For example, if the visitor is looking for employment information, it should use the most obvious words to describe employment like jobs or resume.

The other point it makes is that people don't read websites they do magazines or books, they scan through a website quickly. Most people do not want to scroll through screens of information. They want to go to the first place which gives them relevant information. They are seeking "satisficing", that is the place where they will get the information they need, not the best information.

Steve Krug describes how a website is more like a billboard than a magazine. The title should be prominently displayed on all the pages, and there should be a link back to the home page on every page. The most important piece of information on the web page should be the most visible.

Links should be obviously shown as links. This is why I usually put the full url in my blog posts for sites that you can visit.

Steve Krug quotes from The Elements of Style, "Omit needless words." He further says you must eliminate happy talk, marketing talk, and jargon from your site. People do not have very much patience on the internet.

There are some interesting concepts described about how people find things. He has many diagrams on how people seek out to buy things on the web. These diagrams explain how to make the experience quicker and easier. He also describes how to create a visual trail for the user on a web site. This often called "breadcrumbs." At times this gets a bit complex.

There is also a description of the basic elements of a homepage for a business. This book is mostly focused on business and professional websites, not the home user. It often describes how a development team in a business would build or test a website. This is my first experience with this kind of material.

Some of the elements in a professional homepage are search functionality, timely content, and shortcuts. He mentions that the title of websites should have a catchy tagline attached to them. This should explain exactly what the website is about.

The final chapters are how to do usability testing in a very inexpensive manner. He describes the basic setup with a camcorder, cabling, computers, and screen capture software. Then he tells how you can test a website with small groups of people to see whether or not it is easy for them to use. I understood the majority of this. However, it is not something I am planning on doing immediately.

Immediately after the cheap usability testing, he gives an outline of the context of what generates goodwill and bad will in a website. For example, some of the elements which generate goodwill are making it easy to recover from errors, putting in printer friendly pages, and knowing what the main thing people want in your website then implementing it.

The last few pages have several books which he recommends you read to improve your web site usability. Some of them look quite interesting. I may order several of them for my library. There is an index in the back of the book as well.

The book is illustrated in full color. There are pictures on almost every page. The artwork is pleasant to look and relevant to the content of the book. The book itself is designed so it is easy to read. The author claims you should be able to read through the book in about two hours. It took me three hours with several interruptions.

This book is very basic. It gives you an idea of what web usability is. I think it is helpful for basic tips on how to improve a website. The material is not advanced or complicated. It is the kind of thing you can read in an afternoon. This is a beginners book. If you already have advanced usability skills, it might not help.


kex said...

I actually just read this about 2 months ago. A client was using it to make design decisions for their web site. Very educational. Very Good. There is another book that should also be read that will enhance your Web Design capabilities.

Book Title : Web Design for ROI - Read both of these books and you will be a design guru. Every web site you create will be the best in the web-o-sphere!

Book Calendar said...

Thanks for the suggestion. I will take a look at the book.