Notes on Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think”

I am working my way through Jeff Atwoods reading list and finally got around to reading Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. This is one of the best books that I have read in quite some time. His writing style is amazing, and there is so much useful content in the book that I don’t even want to spoil it by talking about it here.

As a completely unrelated side note, Steve Krug is a Usability Professional, the last time I read about this specific term was in Cory Doctorow’s Eastern Standard Tribe where the main character had the same career.

Hot Takes

  1. People don’t read your website, stop designing it like they do. Instead, learn how to make great billboards.

  2. Focus on the problem you are solving rather than the problem that has already been solved.

There is a common trope these days on Twitter where people joke about the fact that every product website looks the same. Jumbotron header, green call to action, and a three column list with icons that explain what your product does. For instance:

Mockup of Every Website Ever Made

I see this now as a less of a problem, this model works, its clear, use it and focus on building your product instead of re-inveting the wheel of what product pages are supposed to look like.

  1. Write Less. My favorite part of this book is the heading to Chapter 5; Omit Needless Words. I learned about this when I read On Writing Well during an expository research writing course in college, but based on how much text is in this paragraph, I seem to have forgotten the lessons that the book taught me.

  2. Write Less.

  3. Don’t punish users for not doing things your way. This is especially true for forms of all types.

Don’t make me jump through hoops just because you don’t want to write a bit of code.

  1. Think about Accessibility. I am guilty of this myself, but primarily because all of my projects are half finished. The main things to watch out for are color coded things, inability to adjust text size, and making things impossible to read via a screen reader. (Like by using HTML tables for structure). Ricardo is famous for thinking about these types of things in his projects and it motivates me to do better.

Further Reading

I am one of those strange people that read the bibliography, further reading section, and hang on to each recommendation. This is partially why my current reading list is too long to even look at. With that being said, a couple books that I plan to read per Krug’s recommendation are:

  1. The Design of Everyday Things — Classic Book about design. If you look at some of my work (this blog, braindump) you will immediately realize that I am not a designer. I am OK with that, I hope this book will help me get a better understanding of the fundamentals.

Update:
By the time I finished this post, I already bought the book at my local bookstore. Can’t wait to read it.

  1. Letting Go of the Words — how to become a better writer for the web.
  2. Forms that Work: Designing Web Forms for Usability — I have not heard about this book before, but as someone who has used and designed a bunch of awful forms this seems like a great use of my time.
  3. Rocket Surgery Made Easy — Don’t Make Me Think had a great overview of DIY usability testing, this is a follow up from Krug that dives deeper into Usability Testing for teams that cannot afford the $5-10K cost of a professional usability test.
  4. A Web for Everyone: Designing Accessible User Experiences — The chapter about Accessibility in Don’t Make Me Think really hit home for me. I look forward to learning more about the accessibility problems that I do not think about that often and apply them to my own work.

If you made it this far, you should probably follow me on twitter. 🙂

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