Review of Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think: 2nd Edition (with notes)

As it promises, Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think: 2nd Edition, is a quick, but extremely usable, guide to Web usability and design. The book took me less than a day to read (less than 3 hours total over the days of September 26 and 27, of 2007), but has become, in my mind, a requirement for even beginners (like myself) of Web design. Since everyone who develops for the Web should have some idea of design and usability, this book should really be a mandatory requirement for said work.

In short, there's no reason not to read this book if you're developing for the Web (writing content, programming, etcetera), or working with a team that does so.

Notes on the book

The following are notes that I took while reading the book. They are broken up by chapter. These notes will not replace a reading of the book.

Chapter 1

  • Eliminate question marks - "what does this do?" ...
  • use common language
  • keep things obvious

Chapter 2

  • satisficing - first, best, option
    • guessing
    • back button most used browser feature

Chapter 3

  • billboard design
  • clear visual hierarchy
    • size, grouping, nesting
  • use conventions
  • clearly define page areas
  • make clickable areas obvious
  • minimize noise
    • busyness
    • background noise
    • everything is noise until proven otherwise
  • replace text with a foreign language - does it still make sense (where things are)?

Chapter 5

  • get rid of happy-talk - they're not going to read it, but they may think they have to ... (but they still won't read it)
  • kill instructions 

Chapter 6

  • navigation = getting from one place to another = figuring out where you are
  • navigation reveals content
  • presistent navigation - comfort for user; it'll be here, but it may change
  • simpler navigation for forms and the like (where they need to perform a specific action)
  • common elements; home, search, sections (nav), utilities (help use site: about us, contact, help, site map), site id/logo, title, indication of where you are
  • home page != sub pages
  • let people filter results (simple search) - more useful at that point (instead of before you even search)
  • you need to know navigation from top-level to bottom-most level (id est, don't stop mocking up at the second or third level, keep going as necessary)
  • every page needs aname - largest text
  • visual cues of where you are can't be subtle; maybe two things, not just one
  • breadcrumbs were an oddity - not a substitute for two levels of main nav
    • move them out of page - don't let them conflict with primary nav
  • tabs are self-evident, like the Recycle Bin on computes to delete files
    • connect w/ secondary nav (like real life)
      • have one tab selected by default
  • don't rely on color as the only cue
  • 'trunk' test: look at a page from a distance, or with nonsense text
    • what site am I on?
    • what page?
    • what/where are the major sections?
    • options at this level?
    • where am I in scheme of things?
    • search/find?

Chapter 7 (home pages)

  • common elements
    • site identity/mission
    • site hierarchy
    • search
    • teaser
    • timely content
    • deals
    • shortcuts
    • registration
  • show me what I'm looking for (and what I'm not looking for)
  • show me where to start
  • establish credibility and trust
  • must appeal to all visitors
  • ?s: what is this?, what can I do here? what do they have here? why should I be here and not elsewhere? where do I start?
  • tagline and brief, blocked, welcome blurb
    • tagline = value proposition (like 'the single best source for facts on the net')
  • max of four features (to point out)
  • should be able to answer where to start to search, browse, sample (the best)
  • nav layout changes are oaky, but don't change the order (home page vs. sub-pages)

Chapter 8

  • there is no average user
  • there is no average user :D
  • Web teams don't argue about big things (usually), just the minor issues (and these may not have right answers)
  • testing is a good thing - get people to use proposed idea(s) and see how it really functions 

Chapter 9

  • focus groups vs. usability testing
    • focus groups = group; wants, needs, likes > marketing; do it early, not late in the game (do it before you start designing)
    • usability testing = individual, task based; whether site works
  • if people are getting lost, don't add more text - remove (distractions/noise) 

Chapter 10

  • keep photos/figures in print-friendly pages, but don't include nav, ...

Chapter 11

  • easy accessibility (first steps)
    • add alt tags to images
    • use labels in forms
    • skip to main content link (before any other content)
    • make all content accessible by keyboard
    • don't use JS without a good reason