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on November 19, 2005
When we design Web sites, we often overlook the simplest things because we're too wrapped up in the design. After working on Web sites for a while, some of us have slowly moved away from what we know is usable to adding or removing elements that may enhance the `look' - and also break a site's usability.

Steer back on track with the new edition of Krug's highly referenced book. Novice, intermediate, expert. No matter where you are on the scale, the book provides value to everyone - even managers, testers and project managers. Management likes to get their hands a little dirty when it comes to Web design projects and sharing this book may make the team's life easier.

Anyone involved with Web design or usability will recognize most, if not all, of the concepts covered in the book. What makes Don't Make Me Think usable is that it's a great checklist to ensure you've covered all the basics.

Krug provides many before and after examples to show how a few changes can enhance a Web site's usability. The illustrations reinforce the concepts covered as well as how visitors use and read a Web site.

As for the differences between the first and second editions, the second addition has three new chapters while usability testing shrinks from two chapters to one and with good reason.

The testing chapter breaks down the testing process into digestible steps; complete with a script between the tester (user) and the person watching the tester. Too often, we've seen testing get mangled or ignored. With this chapter, teams might find themselves empowered and eager to do testing.

The chapter on "Usability as common courtesy" explores how a site can make or break the "reservoir of goodwill" as Krug puts it. We arrive at a Web site with some goodwill and depending on how well the site meets or misses our needs; the goodwill level goes up or down. It may only take one mistake to propel visitors to flee.

Another new and short chapter is "Accessibility, Cascading Style Sheets and you." Krug captures what developers and designers hear when it comes to accessibility and addresses what they fear. He lists five things designers and developers can do make a site accessible without a lot of effort.

Finally, the book closes with "Help! My boss wants me to..." Krug has received plenty emails and questions on the topic to identify two questions that repeatedly come up. He provides email examples for free re-use, so no one has to explain it to the boss.

It only takes about two hours or a plane trip to read. The writing is conversational, clear and packs a punch with a dash of humor thrown in. Reading the book is not much different than reading fiction because it flows well and the information sinks in without much effort.

If you get this book and have the 1st edition, I recommend keeping both. You might find helpful stuff in the original material not found in the new edition.
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on June 4, 2006
First off, let me preface this by admitting that I am not a web designer or information architect expert by any means. I work in tech being a "jack of all trades" with internet applications where we are always strapped for resources (ie we don't have designers or web producers for this side project, all those resources are devoted to the cash cow at our company). At some times I'm an acting site product manager other times I'm a product marketer.

Steve Krug distills "everything you need to know" into a short book that is written colloquially and deals with real-life web team scenarios, and gives some really simple exercises for reviewing a website.

I especially appreciate his beginning most chapters with a real-life example (ie a designer vs a developer disagreeing about the use of a pulldown menu). This shows me he's been in the trenches before, and keeps me interested in what his solution is.

His chapter on how to run usability tests on a shoestring budget will help not only me (who'll have to run the tests), but also will provide a lot of background on scenarios where usability efforts tend to not take off within a company. Additionally he provides solutions on how to mitigate these excuses -- he's about how to get things done, not about theorizing.

Thanks Steve - another new fan has joined the fold.
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on October 8, 2009
The overriding theme to the book is that anything on your web page that takes more than a fraction of a second of thought is bad. When I worked at the Internal Revenue Service, we were never allowed to post anything that took less than a day of thought.

Sure - the topics in this book are obvious. There's nothing here you couldn't have figured out yourself if you took the time to do so. But that's the point - Krug took the time to assemble these obvious but numerous issues for you, so you don't have to think through all of the potential problems your web site is likely to have. IRONICALLY, THE REAL VALUE OF THIS BOOK IS NOT IN ANY BRILLIANT INSIGHTS. THE VALUE IS THAT YOU ARE FORCED TO STOP AND THINK ABOUT YOUR OWN WEB SITE AS YOU READ. That is, simply by taking the time to drift through this light read, you can't help but to ponder how your own web site suffers from each of Krug's common web page problems. You'll undoubtedly end up making a number of improvements to your own site. Krug's small suggested improvements taken collectively really do end up making a big difference to your site. I made at least ten changes to the web site that hawks my own cheesy book (Web Service and SOA Technologies) based on Krug's very good advice.

Weakness #1 - The book's pace slows down at the end. I can't help to wonder if Krug was a little concerned that he wasn't going to have enough pages. Do we really need an entire page that tells us that some people are naturally less patient than others? But even at his slower pace, there are still many sentences that make you think (errr....even if you're not supposed to).

Weakness #2 - Why didn't Krug design a checklist of issues as the last page? You can't use his table of contents as that checklist since his style is to use titles that don't mean anything without reading each chapter. He needs a summary page like this:

* Is it obvious where you can click and where you cannot? Are there "hotspots" on images that are not obvious?
* If a user were to squint and look at your web page, could they discern what each area on the page was most likely about?
* Does your search capability have confusing pulldowns?
* If a user arrives at any random page on your web site (say, from a search engine), can they figure out what site they are on, what the page name is, what are the major sections of the site, what are the best options on the page, where they are relative to the other pages, and how they can search?
* Do your user's eyes have to leap all over the page in order to figure it out?
* Does any operation ever take more than a few seconds to figure out?
* Does the reader ever have to read through instructions to figure something out? (They won't.)
* Is information organized in a clear, visual hierarchy?
* Do you violate any web page conventions?
* Does your site have excessive images and flashy items on it?
* Are your pages reasonably short? (that is, not too much scrolling required)
* Does the page have any text on it that isn't absolutely necessary? (like this parenthetical note, for example)
* Navigation on your site has to be crystal clear. If the user is "looking for a chainsaw", do they know if they should look in the "tools" section or in "lawn and garden"?
* If the user makes a bad guess when navigating your site, is it easy to recover from the error?
* Do any of your pages look so different from the others that the user might be confused if they've accidentally hyperlinked off your web site?
* When you analyze your site, have you spent the majority of your time thinking only about the higher level pages (rather than the low down, leaf node pages)?
* Does every page have a unique identifying name?
* Is every page name prominent?
* Does the page name ever not match the hyperlink that was used to arrive at that page?
* Have you favored the use of navigation tabs? (Krug is a big proponent of tabs.)
* Does your home page establish the site mission, hierarchy, and search method? Do users immediately know why they should be on your site and not someone else's?
* What items appear "above the fold" on each page? (that is, without having to scroll down)
* Does the site have any current references so users know they are not looking at an old, dead site?
* Does the company have a good, descriptive tag line?
* Is it clear where the user can search, browse, and find the best your company has to offer?
* Are you aware that display space devoted to promoting one item implicitly detracts from other items on the page?
* Have you ever observed a completely new user (with no introduction whatsoever) land on your site?
* Have you made the mistake of doing no user testing at all because comprehensive testing is too expensive?
* Did you perform usability testing very early in web development, like you should?
* Did you make the mistake of giving help to your new test user during your usability test?
* Does your site blatantly omit obvious information about your company because of embarrassment? Does it conceal information like contact phone numbers?
* How quick and easy does your site service its most common request?
* How kind is your site to the vision impaired? What happens if you change the browser font setting to "largest"? Anything?
* Does every image have "alt text"?

You may think you don't need to read the book now, but remember the real value of the book is to force you to stop and think a while about each issue. You can't do that blowing through this list in 10 seconds, especially without the examples in the book.

Overall - Despite some minor weaknesses, the book is great and offers enormous value. Don't Make Me Think has been one of the best sellers in software books since August 2005 and for good reason. Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" really does warrant some thought. If you have a web site, there's no question that you should buy this book.

Glenn Hostetler
Author, Web Service and SOA Technologies
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on May 5, 2006
Not much too add beyond what many of the other reviewers have said, except that it was a real pleasure to read such an approachable book, and get so many good ideas in such a short amount of time. Note: this isn't a book about theory. It's about what works and doesn't work in practice and that's it. Krug gets right to the heart of the matter on every point. If you're looking for detailed discussions of web design techniques and why they're good or bad, this is not the right book for that.
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If I read a book on web design or web usability, the thing that will turn me off the quickest is the dogmatic rantings of a self-proclaimed "expert" on the subject. It's far too easy to call one's preferences "best practices" and think that everyone needs to conform to them. Hate it, hate it, hate it! So why did I pick up and read Don't Make Me Think : A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2nd Edition) by Steve Krug? Because it's one of those usability books that actually clicks with me and restores my faith in common sense design techniques.


Guiding Principles: Don't make me think!; How we really use the Web; Billboard Design 101; Animal, vegetable, or mineral?; Omit needless words

Things You Need To Get Right: Street signs and Breadcrumbs; The first step in recovery is admitting that the Home page is beyond your control

Making Sure You Got Them Right: "The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends"; Usability testing on 10 cents a day

Larger Concerns And Outside Influences: Usability as common courtesy; Accessibility, Cascading Style Sheets; and you; Help! My boss wants me to ______.

Recommended Reading; Acknowledgments; Index

First off, Steve Krug does this web design stuff for a living. So rather than live in the world of theory and stopwatches, he's actually seen and built things that both work and fail. Because of that, his common sense experience shines through in his writing. Couple that with some unique page design and entertaining graphics, and it's hard to not sit through and read the book from end to end in one sitting. In fact, that's *exactly* what he designed the book for! For those of us who have been working on the web for a very long time, it's amazing how much we take for granted and just "assume". But the audience of our site(s) may be far less sophisticated, and the only way to understand usable web design is to see things through fresh eyes. His pragmatic approach to usability testing is refreshing, and is something that you can easily do on any project without having to spend thousands for a full-blown lab. Those findings will drive much of your design and help you to realize what works and what doesn't. And it will probably surprise you what falls into which areas...

This is one of those classic titles on a subject that needs to be read by everyone who makes their living doing web site design. There's absolutely no reason *not* to spend the three or so hours it will take to cover the material. I'm willing to bet it will make a positive impact on your design skills, and your audience will thank you profusely...
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on September 11, 2007
A good book for web design beginners who are just starting their studies or careers in the industry. Someone with a lot of UI design and usability experience won't probably get anything new out of this one (except some perspective I guess).

The book is covering only the basics and is very light on content. On the other hand once you've got those basic design principles you are ready to go. The book is also very fast and fun to read and the author definitely has his own humorous style of writing. I hope we'll see more web design books like this one in the future. Books that are easy to digest between more serious reading.

Other related suggested reading could be the Designing the Obvious: A Common Sense Approach to Web Application Design by Robert Hoekman Jr. which is a bit more serious title but definitely good reading too.
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on November 10, 2006
if you want a quick crash course in web usability, this is the book for you. it's an easy read, taking away all of the technical jargon and explaining it, instead, in every day terms. the book is appropriate for everyone from beginners to the advanced usability experts, but beware it is not an indepth how-to manual. full of examples and screen shots of real world, current examples. you can read the whole book in one sitting and never get bored. two thumbs up.
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on August 19, 2007
I usually don't make time to do reviews (mainly because with kids you rarely have time just to read). But this was a great book on web design usability. I read it in about 3-4 days and it provided such a great approach to web design usability with so little effort that anybody doing any kind of web development needs to have this book on their shelf. Most of it is common sense ... but you don't realize it until after you read it. Once you read some of the chapters you kind of say to yourself ... "DUH! Why didn't I think of that before!" I wish all software development books could be written in such a fashion. You'll do yourself good by getting this book and reading it if you're a web developer.
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on November 9, 2005
I've been working in the web industry for over 5 years now, and pretty much thought I had it all figured out, as far as usability is concerned.

Wow, was I wrong. Reading Krug's book opened up my eyes to several important aspects of web usability that I had overlooked. I especially found the section on user testing useful.

This is one of the best investments you can make for your career!
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on August 31, 2013
I read this because it is referenced in several other design & usability titles. Overall, it's a quick, entertaining, and well-written primer for people who have little experience w/design or the internet. My main criticism is that it cannot bend space-time to remain perpetually relevant.

I was surprised to realize how radically the internet has changed in only a few years. The 2nd edition of this book is from 2006, which doesn't SEEM that long ago ... but the examples all look ancient. Much of the specific advice on interface design conventions has since become either passe or common knowledge. It reminded me of flipping through old magazines or photo albums and laughing at how ridiculous things used to look.

I will say that the chapter on early, iterative, affordable usability testing was a prescient & enduring section. Mr. Krug suggests a process & rationale that seems to be the foundation for modern iterative web/app design workflows, and user-centered design.

A good book if you've read nothing else on the subject, or have recently emerged from a cave that lacked a strong 4G signal... I might suggest you get this from your local library, and look instead for his newer titles.
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