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Book review : Don't make me think

January 28, 2010

I had already read some books on usability. The last one had about 400 pages and lots of texts. It laid out 10 (or 12) rules regarding usability. I can’t even remember one !

On the other hand, Steve Krug’s Don’t make me think is still deeply in my mind. Not only the author applied usability to his book (about 200 pages, very easy to read with drawings right to the point), but, even better, what he wrote is enlightening.

First, Steve Krug introduces the “guiding principles”, all evolving around his First Law of Usability : Don’t make me think. Simply put, the aim is to remove all questions, even unconscious ones, when browsing the web. All these littles inconveniences or inconsistencies which go in the way must disappear. And Steve Krug presents this with way more skills and drawings than I do, making it really impressive and long lasting.

He goes on speaking on the way we use the web (scanning, not reading), than that we should “Omit needless words”.

These first chapters are still vivid in my mind. They come with very relevant examples that we’ve all seen before, and thus that we’ll see again in the future, bringing back the good stuff of this book.

Then, Steve Krug goes on a more general level : why/how to avoid these endless discussions about “mine design is better than yours”, how to do “real size” usability tests (and not the ones requiring huge resources/teams/testers/rooms/… as was put in this previous book!) and how to deal with Pointy-Haired Bosses. Less crazy than the first chapters, but really helpful.

Overall, this book really helped me. I now have quite a tool set (and mindset) to deal with usability questions. To put it shortly, I feel now empowered on this topic, quite a change from my previous readings.

To conclude, if usability is remotely some of your concern (and you don’t know it all already), read this book !


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  1. Eyal Golan permalink

    First click I made after reading the review was to Amazon and buy the book.

  2. Eyal Golan permalink

    A question: can I have ideas from the book for an enterprise web application? or is it mostly directed to web sites?

  3. Joseph Pachod permalink

    Hi Eyal

    I hope you’ll share my view on this book !

    What do you call an “enterprise web application” ?

    Anyway, the book is about websites made for companies, by that I mean it covers topics like navigation, asking for users involvement (for surveys for example), company brand/image, dealing with the home page and the like. All that on top of the advices on how to deal with real enterprise issues of “my boss wants me to ____” and how to reach a common agreement.

    Maybe the table of content could help you :
    Ch. 1 Don’t make me think!
    Ch. 2 How we really use the Web
    Ch. 3 Billboard design 101
    Ch. 4 Animal, vegetable, or mineral?
    Ch. 5 Omit needless words
    Ch. 6 Street sings and breadcrumbs
    Ch. 7 The first step in recovery is admitting that the home page is beyond your control
    Ch. 8 “The farmer and the cowman should be friends”
    Ch. 9 Usability testing on 10 cents a day
    Ch. 10 Usability as common courtesy
    Ch. 11 Accessibility, cascading style sheets, and you
    Ch. 12 Help! my boss wants me to _____.


  4. Eyal permalink

    actually I’m working on an “enterprise web application” based on Wicket.
    It’s not a site, but it’s just an application that the employee can log into and do some stuff.
    So reading the TOC and the first chapter (in Amazon) really looks exiting.
    It will take a while until the book arrives. around 14 days…

    BTW, ever since I read your review (and bought the book), I keep looking on how site I’m surfing look.
    Or, how my wife is looking for the edit info option in Facebook :)

  5. Joseph Pachod permalink

    hi Eyal. I see you’re infected as well. Damn ! ;)

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