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Synopsis of Don't Make Me Think

By Steve Krug

"It's not rocket surgery"

  1. Make links and buttons "obviously clickable". [How? Color, underlining, common button style, change cursor when mousing over.]
  2. How we really use the web: we don't read pages; we scan them. We tend to focus on words and phrases that seem to match (a) the task at hand or (b) our current or ongoing personal interests.
  3. Create a clear visual hierarchy.
    • The more important something is, the more prominent it should be (i.e., larger, bolder, in a distinctive color, set off by more white space, or nearer the top of the page).
    • Things that are related logically are also related visually.
    • Things are "nested" visually to show what's part of what.
    • Example: menu items separated by a dark line are harder to scan than menu items separated by a gray line.
  4. Omit needless words: Happy talk (introductory text with no real content) must die; instructions must die (no one reads them).
  5. Navigation conventions:
    • "You are here" indicator, breadcrumbs (which should use common ">" separator, boldface the last item, appear at the top, use tiny type) on every page.
    • Exceptions: Home page, forms (you don't want the user tempted to exit the form before completing it).
    • Search: Users look for the word "Search", not "Find", "Quick Find", "Quick Search", or "Keyword Search". Also, adding "Type a keyword" is like saying "Leave a message at the beep": there was a time when it was necessary but now it just makes you sound clueless.
    • Page names: the name needs to be prominent (the largest text on the page) and it should match what the user clicked.
  6. Home page:
    • Tagline versus motto: A motto expresses a guiding principle, a goal, or an ideal, but a tagline conveys a value proposition.
    • Don't use a mission statement as a welcome blurb (a la Nobody reads them.
  7. Usability testing:
    • Often too little, too late, and for all the wrong reasons.
    • Focus groups vs usability testing: focus groups react to ideas and designs shown to them whereas usability tests show one user at a time a website (or sketches) and are asked to figure out what it is or try to use it to do a typical task.
    • Testing one user early in the project is better than testing fifty near the end.
    • The purpose of testing is not to prove or disprove anything. It's to inform your judgment.
    • Usability testing on 10 cents a day: grab anyone who uses the web and find an office or conference room. Each observer writes one page of notes the day of the test.
    • Find a way to observe users doing tasks that they have a hand in choosing. It's much better to say "Find a book you want to buy, or bought recently" than "Find a cookbook for under $14."
    • Keep the instructions simple:
      1. "Look around the page and tell me what you think everything is and what you would be likely to click on."
      2. "Tell me what you would click on next and what you expect you would see then."
      3. "Try to think out loud as much as possible."
    • Review the results right away:
      1. Consider tweaking things before re-doing the entire site. Then, re-test.
      2. Focus on specifics: "They didn't seem to notice the navigation when they got to the second-level pages" is better than "The navigation didn't work."

Additional Information:

First Principles of Interaction Design