Posts Tagged ‘usability’

Don’t Make Me Think! by Steve Krug

Dont Make Me Think

Krug, Steve.  Don’t make me think! : a common sense approach to Web usability.  Que, 2000.
Call number:  TK 5105.888 .K78 2000.

Only slightly dated, this excellent, easy-to-read book gives some great tips and techniques for improving the ease of use of web pages and sites.

Krug’s First Law of Usability:  Don’t make me think.  Make it easy for users to answer questions about where to start and what’s clickable, use plain, unique and unambiguous language, and easy-to-locate navigation.

How we really use the web:  Users scan pages, find something that looks like what they want; users don’t completely read pages and then think carefully through choices.

Users muddle through.  Pages are like billboards, so design great billboards.

Billboard Design 101:  Create a clear visual hierarchy.  Take advantage of conventions.  Break pages up into clearly defined areas.  Make it obvious what’s clickable.  Minimize noise: busy-ness & background noise.

Krug’s Second Law of Usability: It doesn’t matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a mindless, unambiguous choice.

Krug’s Third Law of Usability: Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.

Street signs and Breadcrumbs:  Web users like to search or browse, not both.  Browsing requires good navigation.

Searching requires good search tools.  Persistent navigation is comforting.  Breadcrumbs: at the top, tiny type, bold last item.

If given a random page, can you identify:

  • What site is this?
  • What page am I on?
  • What are the major sections of this site?
  • What are my options at this level?
  • Where am I in the scheme of things?
  • How can I search?

Admit your home page is beyond your control.

Some things the Home page has to do:

  • Site identity and mission
  • Site hierarchy
  • Search
  • Teases
  • Timely content
  • Short cuts

And in addition:

  • Show me what I’m looking for
  • And what I’m not looking for (but might need)
  • Show me where to start
  • Establish credibility and trust

But that’s not all!

  • Everybody wants a piece of it
  • Too many cooks
  • Has to appeal to everyone

Problems with rollover menus:

  • You have to seek them out
  • You can only see one at a time
  • They’re twitchy
  • They’re ineffective unless the popup appears near where you’re pointing

Problems with pulldown/dropdown menus:

  • You have to seek them out
  • They’re hard to scan
  • They’re twitchy

Web design team arguments about usability are a waste of time. Everybody has preferences and we think most web users are like us.

Not “do most people like pulldowns?” but “does this pulldown with these items on this page with this wording in this context on this page work for most users?”  Answer with testing.

Usability testing:  Keep it simple to do more. Test early and often, but one is better than none. Not important to get ‘representative users.’  Doesn’t have to be expensive.

Ideal number of testers per round:  3 to 5.

Two types of testing:

“Get it” testing: Show the site, see if they ‘get it:’ purpose of the site, how organized, how it works, etc.

Key task testing: Ask the person to do something and watch how well they do

What to look for:

  • Can they figure out the site or page?
  • Can they find their way around?
  • Head slappers and shocks
  • Inspiration
  • Passion
  • What to do:
  • Brace yourself
  • Don’t panic
  • Be quiet
  • Grade on the curve
  • You’re seeing their best behavior
  • Pay attention to actions & explanations not opinions

Typical problems

  • Users are unclear on concepts
  • Words they’re looking for aren’t there
  • Too much going on

Takeaways:

  • Make web sites as easy to use as possible
  • Do usability testing at every stage of development

To find more books like this one, search subjects web sites-design and web site development.

Jim Hobbs, Online Services Coordinator