Don’t make me think was one of the first books I read about website design and usability, and it’s still one of the most relevant and useful in today’s online world.
Steve Krug has a simple, no-nonsense approach to usability that is refreshing in a field that is often obscured and mystified by consultants with a vested interest in making it sound difficult. At around 200 pages it’s a
short read too. Most readers should manage to get through it in a few sittings, or one long flight.
The basic premise of the book is that the more we make users think about what they are doing, the more we give them opportunities to leave our site. They either get fed up and confused, or are unable to make decisions on the questions we present them with. Think of your user as coming to your site with a small pot of patience and good will. Good UX is keeping this pot full and retaining the user by making things easy for them.
This is at the heart of the common sense approach to usability, and the rest of the book builds on this premise and shows examples of what it could mean when we’re designing forms, navigation, calls to action, and so on. This is where the book
shines, you will start seeing your own website experiences through the Steve Krug filter and immediately be inspired to improve your experiences!
I really recommend this book for marketers moving from traditional media to online media. The best marketer in the traditional media world can easily fall into some of the traps exposed in this book! Best practice online is a totally different kettle of fish to traditional print media and this book will really help you get the mindset you need to get off to a good start!
There are some specific tips and tricks in the book, and Krug has had some criticism regarding these. Specifically, people have suggested that the usability Steve espouses is USA-centric, and not applicable to international markets. My website at work is published in 22 languages, and I can assure you that the usability in this book is absolutely applicable to international markets! Don’t look at the specific example of a form in this book (containing a zip code for example) and assume this is going to be the best form for your site targeting Russia. Don’t Make Me Think is not going to do the hard work for you, but will be onto a winner if you take the principles and apply them to your market!
One other tip, if you do pick up this book, be sure to get the second edition with 3 additional chapters on why people leave websites, web accessibility and hippo management.
You can help me earn a couple of pence by buying Don’t Make Me Think from Amazon via this link.
Have you read the book? What did you think? Any other usability books out there that I should get my hands on? I’d love to know your thoughts…