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DONT MAKE ME THINK

Summary chapters 1 - 5

Dont me think is Steve Krugs first law of usability. It means that as far as
humanly possible, when one looks at a web page it should be self evident. And if
that cannot be achieved, then at the very least it should be self explanatory.
Example: dont make users think how to search. Let them just search. By
eliminating things the user doesnt have to think about, then already youre
making the website a more enjoyable experience for them.
Why? Because people on the web dont read pages, they scan them. They do this
because they dont need to read everything and have grown up scanning
newspapers and magazines. They know it works.
Designers tend to assume users will scan the page, consider all of the available
options and choose the best one. In reality, they choose the first reasonable
option. This is a strategy referred to as satisficing.
An example of this in the real world would be firefighters. Observers studying
them conservatively assumed that because of the high stakes and time pressure,
firefighters would only be able to compare two options. As it turned out, they
didnt compare any options. They took the first reasonable plan that came to
mind and looked for potential problems. If they didnt find any, they had their
plan of action.
Also remember that people invariably use things without understanding how they
work. Indeed faced with any sort of technology (eg VCR), few people take the
time to read instructions. Instead they muddle through making up their own
vaguely plausible justifications about what theyre doing and why it works.
Okay, if users muddle through why does it really matter if they get it or not?
Well it matters a lot because whilst muddling through works occasionally, it tends
to be inefficient and error-prone. And this leaves users frustrated.
So the solution is: if your audience is going to act like youre designing
billboards, then design great billboards.
To do this there are five important things you can do to make sure they see and
understand as much of your site as possible.
1. Create a clear visual hierarchy.
2. Take advantage of conventions and only innovate when you know you
have a better idea (and everyone around you agrees!)
3. Break pages up into clearly defined areas.
4. Make it obvious what is clickable.
5. Minimize noise. Indeed its probably a good idea to assume that
everything is visual noise until proven otherwise.
It doesnt matter how many times I have to click, as long as each click is a
mindless, unambiguous choice. Steve Krugs second law of usability.
Real world example: youre standing in front of two mailboxes labeled Stamped
Mail and Franked Mail with a business reply card in hand. What do they think it
is stamped or metered? And what happens if you drop it in the wrong box?

DONT MAKE ME THINK

Omit needless words. Remember users rarely read instructions, they muddle
through, so you objective should always be to eliminate instructions entirely by
making everything self-explanatory or as close to it as possible.

DONT MAKE ME THINK


Navigation chapter 6

People wont use your Web site if they cannot find their way around it.
In fact navigation isnt just a feature of a Web site; it is the Web site in the same
manner that the building, the shelves and the cash registers are a department store.
As well as the obvious, Navigation:
i)
Gives us something to hold onto.
ii)
Tells us whats here.
iii)
Tells us how to use the site.
iv)
Gives us confidence in the people who built the site.
Global navigation describes the set of elements that appear on every page of a site
and should include the five elements you need to have on hand at all times:
i)
Site ID
ii)
A way home
iii)
A way to search
iv)
Utilities (important elements not related to content hierarchy)
v)
Sections (primary navigation, links to the main sections of site)
One of the most common failures of web design is the failure to give lower
level navigation the same attention as the top. Often as you get past the 2nd level
of a website, the navigation breaks down and becomes ad hoc.
This happens for many reasons but the reality is: users spend as much time on
lower-level pages as they do at the top. And unless you have worked out top-tobottom navigation from the outset its hard to solve it later and remain consistent.
The moral? Its vital to have sample pages that the show the navigation for all
the potential levels of the site before arguing about colour schemes.
Four things everyone should know about page names:
i)
Every page needs a name just like every corner should have a street sign.
ii)
The name needs to be in the right place - framing the content unique to it.
iii)
The name needs to be prominent
iv)
It needs to match what the user clicked.
You are here indicators fight designers urges to make them to subtle.
Breadcrumbs in the authors opinion About.com has one of the best examples of
Breadcrumbs implementation. They support navigation and do not replace it.
Tabs are an excellent choice for navigation. Amazons usage of them is spot on.
Three key attributes being:
i)
They were drawn correctly
ii)
They were colour coded
iii)
There was a tab already selected when you enter the site.
To test a sites navigation dump yourself on a page deep within it. Then answer
the following questions without hesitation:
i)
What site is this? (Site ID)
ii)
What page am I on? (Page Name)
iii)
What are the major sections of this site? (Primary Navigation)
iv)
What are my options at this level? (Local Navigation)
v)
Where am I in the scheme of things?

DONT MAKE ME THINK

i)
ii)
iii)
iv)

i)
ii)
iii)

vi)
How can I search?
The Home Page needs to answer four questions as quickly & clearly as possible:
What is this?
What can I do here?
What do they have here?
Why should I be here and not somewhere else?
Inevitably when designing a HP there will be compromise. However the one
thing you must not to lose sight of is the first question: what is this site? Once
this is established, a user should then be able to say with confidence:
Heres where I start to search.
Heres where I want to browse.
Heres where to start if I want to sample stuff.
Unfortunately the need to promote everything sometimes obscures these key entry
points, so the best way to make sure this doesnt happen is ensure that entry
points look like entry points and eliminate user confusion.
If for some reason, the persistent navigation on the HP differs from other pages on
the site then what is crucial is that the two navigations have enough in common so
users recognize immediately that theyre just two different versions of the same
thing (ex: section names should be the same and be in the same order)
Preserving the HP from promotional overload requires effort, since it may happen
gradually with the slow addition of just..onemorething. All the stakeholders
in a Web site need to be educated about the dangers of over grazing the HP.
Usability and the myth of the Average Web User. Often in a clash of opinions the
conversation turns to finding some way of determining what most users like or
dont like. The problem is that there is no Average User. And dont forget it!
Indeed in the authors experience: Web users are unique and Web use is basically
idiosyncratic. Good design, however, takes such complexity into account.
The point of all this is that its not productive to ask questions like Do most
people like pull down menus? The better question 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?
Make clients understand that what they need is usability testing not focus groups.
Focus groups may be a good way to test the names youre using for features of
your site but theyre not good for learning about whether your site works and how
to improve it. So if a client wants a great site, it should be user tested as much as
possible. Indeed view testing like having friends visit from out of town.
Inevitably as you show them around your town, you begin to see things that you
didnt notice because youre so used to them. And likewise, you realize that a lot
of thing that you take for granted are not obvious to everybody.
Testing one user early in the project is better than testing fifty near the end.
Its good to test with people who are like the people who will use your site, but
its far more important to test early and often.
The Accessibility debate. Remember that making sites more usable for the rest
of us is one of the most effective ways to make them more effective for people
with disabilities.

DONT MAKE ME THINK