Don't make me think(R)

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##Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (2nd Edition)

ISBN: 0321965515 READ: 2014-03-2 RATING: 9/10

####Key Points: Don’t make me think? refers to the idea that when a web site makes you stop and think about what you are doing,it’s making your life harder, and perhaps isn’t designed as well as it could be.

###Chapter Highlights

###Chapter 1 Don’t make me think!

Acts as an introduction to the rest of the book. It also explains the two types of thinking your users engage in and why one of them is bad. Hint: if your users are busy thinking about how to navigate though your site, they aren’t thinking about buying your product or service.

Dozens of other things that visitors to a site shouldn’t spend their time thinking about, like:

  • Where am I?

  • Where should I begin?

  • Where did they put __ ?

  • What are the most important things on this page?

  • Why did they call it that?

###Chapter 2 How we really use the web Scanning , satisficing, and muddling through

Most people don’t read an entire web page, but simply scan it for the first thing that looks good, which they then proceed to click. People don’t attempt a thorough understanding of a web site, but prefer to satisfice - making do with what seems like pretty good choices.

We don’t read pages. We scan them.

  • We’re usually in a hurry.
  • We know we don’t need to read everything.
  • We’re good at it. We’ve been scanning newspapers, magazines, and books all our lives to find the parts we’re interested in , and we know that it works.
  • We don’t make optical choice s. We satisfice.

In reality, though, most of the time we don’t choose the best option,we choose the first reasonable option, a strategy known as satisfying. As soon as we find a link that seems like it might lead to what we’re looking for, there’s a very good chance that we’ll click it.

Why don’t Web users look for the best choice?

  • We’re usually in a hurry.

  • There’s not much of a penalty for guessing wrong.

  • Weighing options may not improve our chances On poorly designed sites,putting effort into making the best choice doesn’t really help.

  • Guessing is more fun.

###Chapter 3 Billboard Design 101

Designing pages for scanning, not reading

Faced with the fact that your users are whizzing by, there are five important things you can do to make sure they see- and understand- as much of your site as possible.

  • Create a clear visual hierarchy.

  • Nest text to show what belongs to what.

  • Conventions are useful,Stick to them unless you have a really good reason, because they help people to avoid thinking.

  • Clearly define portions of a page.It should be very clear what is clickable.

  • Try and avoid noise.

####Create a clear visual hierarchy

  • The more important something is, the more prominent it is.

  • Things that are related logically are also related visually

  • Things are “nested” visually to show what’s part of what

####Conventions are you friends Conventions enable users to figure out a lot about a Web page, even if they can’t understand a word of it.

  • They’re very useful

  • Designers are often reluctant to take advantage of them.

####Try and avoid noise One of the great enemies of easy-to-grasp pages is visual noise. There are really two kinds of noise:

  • Busy-ness

  • Background noise.

Users have varying tolerance for complexity and distractions: some people have no problem with busy pages and background noise, but many do. When you’re designing Web pages, it’s probably a good idea to assume that everything is visual noise until proven otherwise.

###Chapter 4 Animal, vegetable, or mineral?

Over the years, web designers and usability professionals have spent lots of time debating how many clicks you should expect a user to go through to get what they want without getting too frustrated…many designers in fact have rules specifying the maximum number of clicks to get to any page on a site.

Krug thinks numbers aren’t so important though – while it seems like a useful criteria to him, it’s generally safe to assume most users don’t mind a lot of clicks as long as they’re effortless.

Making choices as mindless as possible is in fact one main task to making a site easy to use. Be sure links and drop-down menus are clear in what they offer.

###Chapter 5 Omit needless words

Considering the vast majority of web users scan web pages and don’t read them word for word, having needless words in your copy will only frustrate matters from a usability perspective. In his Elements of Style book, E.B. White details several rules, the 17th of which is the following:

####Omit needless words

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. Omitting needless words has several benefits, including:

  • Reducing noise level on a page

  • Making useful content more prominent

  • Making pages shorter, which allows users to see more of the page without having to scroll

Therefore, if you’re going to omit needless words, all the happy talk (i.e. self-congratulatory promotional writing) must go. You can tell when you’re reading some. In the back of your head, you hear voices saying, “Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah…”

###Chapter 6 Street signs and Breadcrumbs Krug explains how he finds driving in LA an absolute pleasure compared to Boston because the signage is so good - never any question about where you currently are and where you can go next. As he puts it, he is not forced to think. It’s the same with web pages and sites, as this chapter demonstrates.

Breadcrumb trails are analysed, broken apart and generally tested to see how effective they are (not so when they double up as page titles), while tabs get a very thorough look at.

Almost half of the chapter appears to be devoted to Amazon and why they are doing things right. Admittedly, Amazon’s site has changed somewhat since this book was published but the basic theory still exists on their site.

‘the trunk test’. Krug gives the metaphor that you have been bundled blindfolded into the trunk of a car driven about a bit then landed on a web page.

Well designed pages answer the following questions without hesitation:

  • What site is this? (Site ID)

  • What page am I on? (Page name)

  • What are the major sections of this site (Sections)

  • What are my options at this level? (Local navigation)

  • Where am I in the scheme of things? (“You are here” indicators)

  • How can I search?

Very rarely do information architects, web designers or project managers think much beyond the third tier of navigation, an area where much of the browsing takes place. This is usally borne out when you try the trunk test on some of the lower level pages of many sites - they just scream ‘afterthought’!

###Chapter 7 The first step in recovery is admitting the Home page is beyond your control Homepages are the water-front property of a website. They have to accommodate several things like site identity and mission, site hierarchy, site search, teases, promos, timely content, deals, shortcuts and registration if that applies to your situation.

This is prime real estate - it’s where everybody wants to be, and therein lies your battle - you have to structure something that is usable for the person browsing your site, not pander to management or marketing desires to have ‘shortcuts’ to something that is important to them. As Krug puts it “Everybody wants a piece”.

###Chapter 8 “The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends”

###Chapter 9 Usability testing on 10 cents a day

###Chapter 10 Usability as common courtesy

###Chapter 11 Accessibility, Cascading StyleSheets, and you

###Chapter 12 Help! My boss wants me to ____

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