Today I received in the mail a copy of Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach To Web And Mobile Usability” (oh, that’s a long name). I went through the whole book only in under a few hours, and I am so glad I’ve read it. It’s a very quick read, but the book is full of concrete and valuable tips and advice about usability.
“Don’t Make Me Think” contains practical advice on a large number of topics: web and mobile usability, design, and writing for the web. The advice can be easily used and incorporated into your daily workflow; and the author provides concrete guidelines for applying his tips in the real world.
The biggest thing I’ve learned from this book (and want to apply in practice) is individual usability testing. I actually performed my first usability test just three days ago, just before reading “Don’t Make Me Think”, after I found that Donald Norman’s masterpiece mentioned observing user interactions with your product (I’ll get to the similarities between two of these books in a moment).
I asked two of my colleagues, one after another, to visit a website I was working on, and I silently watched them navigate through it. They had never seen the website before, and the results were very shocking to me: they ignored the things most obvious to me, but attempted to click through things which are not even meant to be clicked. I carefully wrote down all of my findings, and delivered the patches with enhancements to improve the biggest areas of struggle these particular users had faced.
Usability testing turned out to be invaluable: it pointed out actions that I, as a developer, did not anticipate, and highlighted parts of the system ignored by the users. I now plan to run usability tests regularly, grabbing colleagues from the hallway, and asking them to use my application for a few minutes.
Steve Krug’s book is very much like “The Design Of Everyday Things”, but stripped from the extended theoretical part. The book references Norman’s work quite a lot, and seems to be heavily influenced by it. It focuses on practical aspects of designing easy to use and understandable user interfaces. It successfully explains why you should be thoughtful of user experience, accessibility, and understanding the way users think. I would recommend reading this book after reading Donald Norman’s masterpiece first, since it provides you with the reasoning behind many decisions Steve Krug makes throughout his book.