To me, Steven Krug offers the feng shui of web design. When a site, ugly and inconvenient, ignores or rejects the principles in Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, one’s qi or sense of calm vanishes. Not only sites with garish pages possibly designed 10 or more years ago offer bad feng shui, but the sites that are just a little inconsistent or whose designers wanted to flout conventions and come up with their own cutting edge placement for search boxes and buttons, make users perceive that several small things are amiss. Soon people move on to a competitor is that’s an option or get frustrated and put off their task till they feel more patient (as I had to several times with healthcare.gov).
Written for reading in one or two short sittings, Krug’s book offers designers, professional and non, clear advice on how to design a site that people can use without frustration or confusion. The book has a breezy, sometimes humorous tone, making learning easy. Krug practices what he preaches as the illustrations and layout enhance rather than distract.
I have read this book and others before. Rereading didn’t hurt because I could use a reminder of principles such as:
- Take advantage of conventions,
- Break pages into clearly,
- Create effective hierarchies,
- Format to support scanning,
- Innovate when you know (for certain) you’ve got a better idea,
- Name every page, and more.
While many of these principles seem obvious, we know that they aren’t widely followed. Some ideas Krug offers, e.g. people don’t care how many clicks it takes to get somewhere as long as they don’t feel lost, may not be obvious though they are true and should be heeded.
Just as writers benefit by keeping Elements of Style close at hand while working on an important project, web designers ought to have Don’t Make Me Think near to remind them of best practices.