Books : Don’t Make Me Think

Dont make me think

Don’t Make Me Think
A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
by Steve Krug

Thoughts that striked me the most.

“Don’t make me think!” 

– first law of usability. User should be able to ‘get it’. When you are creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks in the user’s head.


How users use the web.

  • We don’t read pages. We scan them.
  • We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice. – users don’t choose the best option, they choose the first reasonable option.
  • We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through.


  • Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.
  • Happy talk must die. – introductory texts, blah blah text
  • Instructions must die. – no one ever reads them


Oddities of web space.

Reasons why nav bar is important.

  • No sense of scale. We don’t know how many web pages there are, of whether we’ve explored half or all of it.
  • No sense of direction. We don’t know whether we should move left or right, up or down.
  • No sense of location.

Also, nav bar tells the user where he/she is.


Problems with pull-downs.

  • You have to seek them out. You have to click on them to see the list.


On Homepages.

  • Don’t overload the homepage.



  • The antidote for religious debate. Testing tends to defuse arguments and break impasses by moving the discussion away from the realm of what’s right or wrong and into the realm of what works or doesn’t work.
  • Two kinds :
  1. Focus group. A group process, and much of its value comes from participants reacting to each other’s opinion. Good for testing whether the idea behind a site makes sense.
  2. Usability test. One user at a time is shown something and asked to either a) figure out what it is or b) try to use it to do a typical task.
  • It reminds you that not everyone thinks the way you do, knows what you know, uses the web the way you do.
  • After you’ve work on a site for weeks, you can’t see it freshly anymore. You know too much. The only way to find out if it really works is to let others use it and to test it.
  • Testing 1 user is better than testing none.
  • Testing 1 user early in the project is better than testing 50 near the end.
  • The importance of recruiting representative users is overrated. Recruit loosely, and grade on a curve.
  • Testing is an iterative process.
  • The best kept secret of usability testing is the extend to which it doesn’t matter who you test.
  • Its a good idea to encourage everyone to attend a testing.
  • Review the test results right away.


Guides on deciding what to fix and what not to.

  • Ignore kayak problems – problems where users will go astray for a moment but manage to get back on track without any help.
  • Resist the impulse to add things. You’re merely adding more distractions.
  • Take new feature requests with a grain of salt.
  • Grab the low-hanging fruits.


Readings :

  • Information Architecture for the WWW – Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville, O’Reilly
  • Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping – Paco Underhill, Simon and Schuster
  • Sources of Power : How People Make Decisions – Gary Klein, MIT Press
  • The Practice of Creativity : A Manual for Dynamic Group Problem Solving
  • Web Application Design Handbook : Best Practices for Web-based software – Susan Fowler and Victor Stanwick
  • Defensive Design for the Web – 37 Signals, New Riders
  • The Design of Everyday Things – Don Norman, Basic Books

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