After reading “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug, I realized that there really is a common sense approach to creating a good website. Websites need to be organized, pleasing to the eye, and easily accessible for everyone. Krug made this book fun to read by writing conversationally and displaying a lot of images as examples.
The first chapter really helped me build a sturdy foundation for what a good website should look like. For instance, as a website owner, you don’t want people who view your site to have to think about where to click, or where to find the information they’re looking for. Sometimes clever names can confuse people. It’s better to keep your buttons very obvious, so people know where to click and what they can expect to find once they click on it.
One “Fact of Life” Krug gives in this book is that people tend to spend very little time reading most Web pages. Instead, we scan pages looking for information, words, or images that catch our eye. Therefore, a good website would bold important words or include prominent headers and interesting pictures. People are usually in a hurry and don’t have time to read every detail. Creating a clear, visual hierarchy is one tip to build a good website.
The more important something is, the more prominent it should be on your website. This is very easy on the eye and quickly shows what information is most significant on the page. It’s also essential to group related items together in a clearly defined area. “Nesting” things visually is another good tip to show what’s part of what.
For a website to be successful, the pages should be broken up into clearly defined areas. This allows users to decide quickly which areas of the page to focus on and which areas they can safely ignore. Another tip is to make it obvious what’s clickable on the site. Studies show that a large part of what people are doing on the Web is looking for what to click next. Making sure all of the site’s buttons and search bars are consistent is especially imperative. Omit needless words and keep it to the point, which I suggested earlier. Some examples of this are getting rid of “happy talk” and instructions.
An organized, dependable Web navigation is vital to having a good website. Someone is usually trying to find something (that’s why they’re on a website to begin with) and they’re trying to decide whether to “ask first or browse first”. If the person chooses to browse, they’ll make their way through the hierarchy, using signs on the site to guide them. The reason the navigation is so fundamental to the well being of a website is because if users cannot find what they’re looking for, they’ll leave.
Finally, when you believe you have the perfect website a very important step before launching the site is to test its usability. If you want a great site, you’ve got to test it. Krug explains,
“Testing reminds you that not everyone thinks the way you do, knows what you know, uses the Web the way you do.”
I really like that quote because it’s always a good idea to let go of the reins for a bit, and allow someone else to take a ride on your website.
Krug has a lot more information about creating a good website packed into his book, but those are just a few of the big takeaways I got after reading “Don’t Make Me Think.” Overall, I thought it was a simple and insightful read. I will definitely be able to take these tips and use them in the future!