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Don't Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability 1st Edition

297 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0789723109
ISBN-10: 0789723107
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Editorial Reviews Review

Usability design is one of the most important--yet often least attractive--tasks for a Web developer. In Don't Make Me Think, author Steve Krug lightens up the subject with good humor and excellent, to-the-point examples.

The title of the book is its chief personal design premise. All of the tips, techniques, and examples presented revolve around users being able to surf merrily through a well-designed site with minimal cognitive strain. Readers will quickly come to agree with many of the book's assumptions, such as "We don't read pages--we scan them" and "We don't figure out how things work--we muddle through." Coming to grips with such hard facts sets the stage for Web design that then produces topnotch sites.

Using an attractive mix of full-color screen shots, cute cartoons and diagrams, and informative sidebars, the book keeps your attention and drives home some crucial points. Much of the content is devoted to proper use of conventions and content layout, and the "before and after" examples are superb. Topics such as the wise use of rollovers and usability testing are covered using a consistently practical approach.

This is the type of book you can blow through in a couple of evenings. But despite its conciseness, it will give you an expert's ability to judge Web design. You'll never form a first impression of a site in the same way again. --Stephen W. Plain

Topics covered:

  • User patterns
  • Designing for scanning
  • Wise use of copy
  • Navigation design
  • Home page layout
  • Usability testing

From the Author

Even if every Web site could afford a usability expert (which they can't), there just aren't enough of us to go around. So I tried to boil down what I've learned over the years (principles like "Don't make me think" and "Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what's left") into a short, profusely illustrated book--one that even the guy who signs the checks (the one who looks at the site when it's ready to launch and says "I hate green. And there should be more big pictures.") might read.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 195 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders Publishing; 1st edition (October 23, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0789723107
  • ISBN-13: 978-0789723109
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (297 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Krug is a usability consultant who has more than 20 years of experience as a user advocate for companies like Apple, Netscape, AOL, Lexus, and others. Based in part on the success of his first book, Don't Make Me Think, he has become a highly sought-after speaker on usability design.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

330 of 339 people found the following review helpful By atmj TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
The "show me" what you mean book of web usability review. I particularly like the common sense handling of the main web problems.
Some of the key things that are pointed out in this book are:
1. Don't make me think: Basically the web user does not want to venture into a site that requires them to figure it out. It should be self-evident. How do we use web pages:
a. We don't read pages, we scan them
b. We don't make optimal choices, we satisfice
c. We don't figure out, how things work, we muddle through
2. It doesn't matter how many times I click as long as each click is a mindless unambiguous choice
3. Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what's left.
The first 5 chapters clearly illustrate the three "Krug's Laws of Usability" listed above with lots of pictures and examples. Well done.
His chapters on navigation and finding your way around are a cookbook on how to do it right. He finishes the chapters with several examples, first asking the reader to look at the examples and then discusses how he feels it should be redone. Excellent teaching tool. Similarly, he broaches the topic of the Home page and how it should be structured and the various forces pulling in different directions. The examples he gives at the end here too are a good teaching tool.
The remainder of the book discusses the design processes and the usability tests. These are excellent chapters in the forces at work and it is evident, he has done this many times from the information he has gathered.
He provides specific suggestions for web usability testing for various stages of sites as well as for various problems. This is wonderful guidance if you are new at this. He also provides a guideline on scripting and report writing. Nice job.
He winds up the book with recommended reading and also providing a website for readers of this book: [...]
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284 of 293 people found the following review helpful By Andrew B. King on September 25, 2001
Format: Paperback
A practical Web design usability guide, "Don't Make Me Think!" is based on empirical observation not exhaustive statistics. Steve Krug's five years of usability consulting and testing are distilled down to this thin yet gem-filled how-to. Krug observed how people actually use the Web rather than how we *think* they use it, gleaning key usability guidelines. Most folks can't afford a full-blown usability consult, but they can afford to buy a $35 book. This book shows you how to conduct your own usability tests on the cheap. What follows is a summary of the book's major rules and observations:
1. Don't Make Me Think!
The number one usability rule, most often expresed by users. Web pages should be self-evident, obvious, and self-explanatory. Buttons should have short text and look clickable. The default search for your site should be simple.
2. Design for scanning not reading
By observing users Krug found that people glance, scan some text, and click on the first reasonable option (called "satisficing"). People scan Web pages, they don't read them. We don't make optimal choices, we satisfice.
Here are some things you can do to make sure users understand as much of your site as possible:
a. Create a clear visual hierarchy to show relative importance of content (H1/H2 etc.)
b. Take advantage of conventions
c. Break pages up into clearly defined areas
d. Make it obvious what's clickable
e. Minimize noise
3. Users like mindless choices
Make each click an unambiguous orthogonal alternative.
4. Omit needless words
Get rid of half of the words on each page, then get rid of half of what's left. This is especially important on home pages and
gateway pages.
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79 of 83 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 13, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book walks it's talk. It is written and arranged exactly as a useable web site should be, clear and concise, with scannable (as well as enjoyable) text. The clean attractive design and graphics accurately and efficiently illustrate the text, which is easy to read and to understand. I love the use of cartoon people with thought balloons to suggest how people think while using a web site.
There is no clutter of technical gibberish or endless verbose rambling on statistics. The chapter on usability testing takes us step by step through the process and is descriptive and instructional instead of theoretical. Steve Krug doesn't feel he has to sacrifice creativity, visual interest, individuality, or effective advertising in order to develop a usable web site. "Good tag lines are personable, lively, and sometimes clever. Clever is good, but only if the cleverness helps convey - not obscure - the message."
I can't agree with those who dismiss this book as nothing but common sense. While I see nothing wrong with publishing a reference and instructional manual that is full of common sense, this book also presents the reasoning behind every method that is suggested. The clashes between designers, programmers, and advertisers are explored and addressed. While I agree that the simple and obvious conclusion is that the focus should be on the user, it is refreshing and helpful to find a book which distills information from all of the varied and opposing developer viewpoints, and applies to them to that end. The book is, after all, subtitled "A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability." Also, like most common sense, it isn't really so obvious until after someone has pointed it out to you.
Here are a few things you won't find in this book, which makes it all the more effective and convincing.
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