Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug - Book Notes, Summary, Review

Book-Notes
Written: March 05, 2021
Reading Time: 15 mins

Don’t Make Me Think was a transformative reading experience for me. It boils down a lot of complex and indepth usability research and best practices into easy to understand advice with examples.

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Who Should Read This Book?

I would recommend this book to anyone interested or working in Usability design, Web design, and Web development.

There are lots of great insights and guidelines for creating websites, apps, and designs that are highly usable.

Even though this book is quite old now by technological standards, it still offers timeless advice and helpful examples.

I imagine a lot of designers would consider this book a staple to read to become a good designer. I’ve certainly seen and heard this book being recommended in lots of places.


How This Book Changed Me

There were a lot of things I already knew before reading this book.

With that said, I found that from reading this book I have new ways to explain these concepts. New mental models if you will.

The best example is the idea of the reservoir of good will.

I generally knew that if you annoy users enough with bad design choices that they’ll leave your site and never come back.

However, the way the author described this really clicked with me. A reservoir that can be emptied over time but can also be replenished.

This is something that I’ll consider from now on whenever I’m designing something new or performing a UI review.

Reading this book further highlighted the importance of frequent testing.

I certainly understand the need for testing and am a strong advocate for the process but it’s hard to find ways to make a case for it in a world where testing and usability aren’t considered important.

This book has given me renewed motivation to be a testing advocate and to test my own work early and often.


My Top 3 Quotes That Resonated With Me

“Your objective should always be to eliminate instructions entirely by making everything self-explanatory, or as close to it as possible.” p61

“This is what I call the Big Bang Theory of Web Design. Like the Big Bang Theory, it’s based on the idea that the first few seconds you spend on a new Web site or Web page are critical.” p93

“Testing reminds you that not everyone thinks the way you do” p112


Book Notes

Chapter 1 - Don’t Make Me Think

“When you’re creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks.” p25

Chapter 2 - How We Really Use The Web

Chapter 3 - Billboard Design 101

“Innovate when you know you have a better idea, but take advantage of conventions when you don’t.” p41

Chapter 4 - Animal, Vegetable, Or Mineral?

“what really counts is not the number of clicks it takes me to get to what I want (although there are limits), but rather how hard each click is—the amount of thought required and the amount of uncertainty about whether I’m making the right choice.” p54

Chapter 5 - Omit Needless Words

“Your objective should always be to eliminate instructions entirely by making everything self-explanatory, or as close to it as possible.” p61

Chapter 6 - Street Signs And Breadcrumbs

“Breadcrumbs show you the path from the Home page to where you are and make it easy to move back up to higher levels in the hierarchy of a site.” p84

Chapter 7 - The Big Bang Theory Of Web Design

“This is what I call the Big Bang Theory of Web Design. Like the Big Bang Theory, it’s based on the idea that the first few seconds you spend on a new Web site or Web page are critical.” p93

Chapter 8 - The Farmer And The Cowman Should Be Friends

“it’s not productive to ask questions like “Do most people like pull-down menus?” The right kind of question to ask is “Does this pull-down, with these items and this wording in this context on this page create a good experience for most people who are likely to use this site?” And there’s really only one way to answer that kind of question: testing.” p108

Chapter 9 - Usability Testing On 10 Cents A Day

“People often test to decide which color drapes are best, only to learn that they forgot to put windows in the room.” p110

“Testing reminds you that not everyone thinks the way you do,”p112

Chapter 10 - Mobile - It’s Not Just A City In Alabama Anymore

Chapter 11 - Usability As Common Courtesy

Chapter 12 - Accessibility And You

Chapter 13 - Guide For The Perplexed

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