Don't Make Me Think - A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Steve Krug

Key Facts and Insights from "Don't Make Me Think"

  1. Usability is king: A website should be self-explanatory and easy to navigate for users.
  2. Don't make users think: The more a user has to think about how to use a website, the less likely they are to enjoy their experience.
  3. Krug's First Law of Usability: A web page should be obvious and self-explanatory.
  4. Design for scanning, not reading: Users typically scan web pages rather than reading them in-depth.
  5. Eliminate distractions: Unnecessary elements on a page can distract from its main purpose and decrease usability.
  6. Effective navigation: Navigation should be consistent, clear, and visible across all pages.
  7. Homepage importance: The homepage is your company's face to the world and should clearly communicate its purpose.
  8. Usability testing: Regular testing is important to identify and fix usability issues.
  9. Mobile usability: With the increase in mobile browsing, mobile usability is as important as desktop usability.
  10. Accessibility: Websites should be designed to be accessible to as many users as possible, including those with disabilities.

An In-Depth Look at "Don't Make Me Think"

Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think" is a seminal work in the field of web usability, which places emphasis on the fact that a user's experience on a website should be as effortless as possible. The title itself is a fundamental principle of the book - users should not have to think about how to navigate a website or understand its content.

In accordance with Krug's First Law of Usability, Krug argues that a good web page should be self-evident, where users understand its functionality without needing explanations. If a self-evident design isn't achievable, a web page should at least be self-explanatory, providing users with answers as soon as questions arise. A design that requires users to puzzle over how to use it fails the usability test.

The book highlights that users generally don't read web pages, they scan them. Therefore, a vital tactic in web design is ensuring web pages support scanning rather than reading. This can be achieved through the use of headings, bullet points, and highlighting keywords. This aligns with the concept of information foraging theory, which suggests that users behave like wild animals hunting for information - they want to expend as little effort as possible to get what they need.

An important aspect the book tackles is the elimination of unnecessary elements on a web page. Each added element on a page, whether it's a button, image, or a piece of text, competes with the important elements and can distract the users from their goal. This relates to the Hick's Law in cognitive psychology, which states that the time it takes for an individual to make a decision increases with the number and complexity of choices.

Krug insists on the importance of clear and consistent navigation. This consistency allows users to develop a set of expectations as they move between pages, making the navigation process easier. This resonates with the concept of cognitive load theory, which suggests that human cognitive processing capacity is limited, so the less mental effort required, the better the user experience.

The book places significant importance on the homepage. According to Krug, a well-designed homepage answers the questions: What is this? What can I do here? and Why should I be here? It should also provide users with a clear starting point. This aligns with the information scent theory, which suggests users follow clues to find the information they need. A clear, well-designed homepage provides a strong 'scent' for users to follow.

Krug also discusses the importance of usability testing and how it can be done on a shoestring budget. He suggests that it's better to conduct small, quick tests and iterate on the design based on feedback. This aligns with the lean UX methodology, which emphasizes iterative design and constant feedback.

In the updated edition of the book, Krug acknowledges the rise of mobile browsing and the importance of mobile usability. He suggests that the principles of desktop usability still apply, but the constraints and context of use are different. This resonates with the concept of responsive design, which aims to ensure a consistent user experience across different device types.

Finally, the book stresses the importance of designing for accessibility. Inclusive design aims to ensure as many people as possible can use a website, including people with disabilities. This is not only a moral obligation but can also increase your potential audience and improve SEO.

In conclusion, "Don't Make Me Think" is a must-read for anyone involved in web design or concerned with creating user-friendly websites. The book's principles and insights are backed by established theories and concepts in psychology and design, making it an invaluable resource in the field of web usability.

Maria Kubysh

Maria Kubysh DE

Lead UX/Product Designer