Book Review: Don't Make Me Think

Sometime last month I received the second edition of Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think.

Many people have raved about the original Don't Make Me Think in the past, but fewer probably realize that there is that new edition out. It's in fact so new, that the copyright note is of 2006.

Anyway, the book:

It's one of the best (and most entertaining) texts on usability that I have read thus far. The writing is concise and accompanied by lots of illustrations, screenshots and other graphics. The aim is not to turn the casual reader into a usability expert, but rather to provide a meaningful introduction, following some very common sense principles.

Here is a (very brief) overview:

Chapter 1 - Don't make me think!

The site should be self-evident - as soon as the user has to ask him or herself how to proceed, the site can probably be improved.

Chapter 2 - How we really use the Web

Often pages are designed for more or less linear reading - users however like to scan a page for whatever information they need. They glance and jump and are mostly not prepared for large portions of text.

Chapter 3 - Billboard Design 101

Eliminate noise, clarify headings, links, etc.

Chapter 4 - Animal, vegetable, or mineral?

Choices are alright as long as they are so obvious that the user does not have to think about the right one.

Chapter 5 - Omit needless words

Decrease amount of text, where possible.

Chapter 6 - Street signs and breadcrumbs

On web site navigation aids that eliminate questions.

Chapter 7 - The first step in recovery is admitting that the Home Page is beyond your control

The home page can follow other rules than the rest of the site. However, it has to communicate very effectively to the user so they don't leave early (and frustrated).

Chapter 8 - "The Farmer and the Cowman Should Be Friends

Dealing with development discussions and personal preferences regarding good design and: The myth of the average user.

Chapter 9 - Usability testing on 10 cents a day

What usability testing is and how it can be done inexpensively.

Chapter 10 - Usability as common courtesy

Usability as a means of promoting honesty and openness to avoid user frustration.

Chapter 11 - Accessibility, Cascading Style Sheets, and you

Accessibility considerations to make a site more usable.

Chapter 12 - Help! My boss wants me to _____.

The author's response to (two) typical design mistakes managers like to force upon their developers.

This is really a quick read; it's a short book. The author has in fact quite intentionally made sure that it remains a short (thin) book in this second edition. I wonder, how many people out there have quietly slipped a copy onto a the desk of a coworker to get them to pick up a thing or two about usability.

Here is a sample chapter from the first edition, so you can check out some of the content and style.

It's good to see a software development book successfully manage to be fun to read, too.