Don't Make Me Think - A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
- by Steve Krug
'Don't Make me think' is an excellent book on website usability. Simple concepts presented in an easy-to-understand, pictorial way. Lot's of real world examples of websites - what works and what doesn't.
The main concept is that a website should be so intuitive that a visitor should not have to think about where to look, what to click etc. The website should be designed so that using it will come natually and the visitor easily finds what he/ she is looking for.
He draws parallels to real world examples like supermarkets or billboards and how we can apply similar principles in website design. He lays out some simple rules that we can keep in mind while designing our website.
He outlines some of the behavior and thought patterns of visitors so that we can design our websites keeping that in mind. He also emphasizes the value of testing the site on the end user throughout the design process.
Rule # 1: “Don’t make me think!”
- Make things obvious. E.g. buttons, links and search
- Eliminate question marks. E.g. Where am I?
- Make pages self- evident or at least self-explanatory (appearance of things, well-chosen names, layout of the page, and the small amounts of carefully crafted text should all work together to create near-instantaneous recognition). The visitor should not have to think about:
- Where should I begin?
- Where did they put ______?
- Why did they call it that?
- Work your magic at a glance because people usually read by scanning, satisfying, and muddling through. The visitor should intuitively figure out wWhat are the most important things on the page are.
Rule of life #1: We don’t read pages. We scan them.
Looking for things that are of interest to us.
Rule of Life #2:
We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice.
We don’t choose the best option – we choose the first reasonable option because:
- We are usually in a hurry
- There’s not much of a penalty for guessing wrong
- Weighing options may not improve our chances
- Guessing is more fun
Rule of Life #3: We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through.
- It’s not important to us.
- If we find something that works, we stick to it.
If the audience is going to act like you’re designing billboards, then design great billboards!
Design pages for scanning, not reading.
- Create a clear visual hierarchy on each page.
- Take advantage of conventions
- Break pages up into clearly defined areas
- Make it obvious what’s clickable
- Minimize noise.
Create a clear visual hierarchy on each page.
- Prominence: The more important something is, the more prominent (larger, bolder, in a distinctive color, set off by more white space, or nearer the top of the page or a combination of the above) it is.
- Grouping: Things that are related logically are also related visually (grouping under same heading, displaying them in similar visual style, or putting them in clearly defined area).
- Nesting: Things are “nested” visually to show what’s part of what.
- Minimize Busy-ness
- Minimize Background noise
Rule #2: It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.
Rule #3: Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.
- It reduces the noise level of the page.
- It makes the useful content more prominent.
- It makes the pages shorter, allowing users to see more of each page at a glance without scrolling.
- Happy talk must die
- Instructions must die – eliminate instructions entirely by making everything self-explanatory, or as close to it as possible. When instructions are absolutely necessary, cut them back to the bare minimum.
Navigation and Breadcrumbs
Utility links should be slightly less prominent than the Sections. 4-5 with the persistent navigation.
For any page (except home page and forms) you should be able to answer these questions:
- What site is this? (Site ID)
- What page am I on? (Page name)
- What are the major sections of this site? (Sections)
- What are my options at this level? (Local navigation)
- Where am I in the scheme of things? (“You are here” indicators)
- How can I search?
Components of Homepage Design
- Tagline (near the site ID)
- Prominent but terse welcome blurb.
- Where do I start? – to search, to browse, to sample their best stuff. Make entry points look like entry points. Search box should look like a search box; list of sections should look like a list of sections. Clear labels – search, browse by category, Sign-in, Start here (for a step-by-step process).
Buy "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug.