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Dean Steuer
MFC 215
Steve Krug: Don’t Make Me Think
Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think is an analysis of web design which considers the users will
look at and interact with a website. There are many ways to make a website appealing to a user and,
similarly, many ways to make your website unappealing. Writing a website is as much about
understanding how people will use it as it is about the code. A page needs to be both portable between
machines and user friendly.
A webpage should be easy to use, it should not require thinking in order to properly use. Things
need to be obvious to uses and if they cannot be, they should be clearly explained. Users should be able
to look at the page and know instantly what it is about, what the subtopics are, and where they can go
for more information. Clarity is paramount to a good website design. As Krug notes, not everything can
be self-evident, but it should be self-explanatory. This leads into his next point about website design.
A user does not read an entire website; they do not analyze all parts. Instead, users typically
scan a website for the information they are looking for, because they have come there with a goal. Walls
of uniform text are unpleasant to read and difficult to navigate. Text should be short and to the point.
There should be a visual hierarchy, vital information and navigation should be more noticeable. Not
everything can shout for attention, a developer must reduce noise. Related topics are visually nested
without broader fields. Use lists instead of paragraphs. Define portions of the page, either by blocking
the text or color coding, to separate elements from each other. Important information should be easily
accessed. Remove the unnecessary, keep pages brief, his convention it to remove half the words and get
rid of half of what’s left. Wordiness kills a webpage. Don’t include instructions if you can make
something self-evident.
In some ways the book is an analysis of humans more than it is of websites. People are creatures
of habit, once they find a way of doing something; they tend not to deviate so plan accordingly.
Information should be quickly accessed. Humans create maps of a website, rather than remembering
the physical layout, they rely on an informational hierarchy. Krug says that users satisfice - we choose
the first reasonable option even though it may not be the easiest way. Users are typically in a hurry.
Certain tools will be frequently used and a web developer must account for this. The back
button and search bar are frequently utilized and must be accounted for. No one likes clicking back
through twenty slides to exit a page. Similarly, the search bar should be navigable and the results
relevant to the question. Additionally, the homepage is the most frequently used page, beyond being
accessible and containing a hierarchy of information it should be a click away at all times. Every page
should have link back to the home page and it should be clear.