Book Review - Don't Make Me Think (2nd Edition) by Steve Krug
If I read a book on web design or web usability, the thing that will turn me off the quickest is the dogmatic rantings of a self-proclaimed "expert" on the subject. It's far too easy to call one's preferences "best practices" and think that everyone needs to conform to them. Hate it, hate it, hate it! So why did I pick up and read Don't Make Me Think : A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2nd Edition) by Steve Krug? Because it's one of those usability books that actually clicks with me and restores my faith in common sense design techniques.
Guiding Principles: Don't make me think!; How we really use the Web; Billboard Design 101; Animal, vegetable, or mineral?; Omit needless words
Things You Need To Get Right: Street signs and Breadcrumbs; The first step in recovery is admitting that the Home page is beyond your control
Making Sure You Got Them Right: "The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends"; Usability testing on 10 cents a day
Larger Concerns And Outside Influences: Usability as common courtesy; Accessibility, Cascading Style Sheets; and you; Help! My boss wants me to ______.
Recommended Reading; Acknowledgments; Index
First off, Steve Krug does this web design stuff for a living. So rather than live in the world of theory and stopwatches, he's actually seen and built things that both work and fail. Because of that, his common sense experience shines through in his writing. Couple that with some unique page design and entertaining graphics, and it's hard to not sit through and read the book from end to end in one sitting. In fact, that's *exactly* what he designed the book for! For those of us who have been working on the web for a very long time, it's amazing how much we take for granted and just "assume". But the audience of our site(s) may be far less sophisticated, and the only way to understand usable web design is to see things through fresh eyes. His pragmatic approach to usability testing is refreshing, and is something that you can easily do on any project without having to spend thousands for a full-blown lab. Those findings will drive much of your design and help you to realize what works and what doesn't. And it will probably surprise you what falls into which areas...
This is one of those classic titles on a subject that needs to be read by everyone who makes their living doing web site design. There's absolutely no reason *not* to spend the three or so hours it will take to cover the material. I'm willing to bet it will make a positive impact on your design skills, and your audience will thank you profusely...