Don’t Make Me Think: Turns Out No One Does

As I get older is seems like the Millennial generation becomes more and more of a hot topic. Although whenever it’s mentioned it’s almost always as a reference to how this generation is ruining our current economy in some way. However any person may think about that term and it’s usefulness, it seems to me that defining what a Millennial is, is just another way we are exploring the ways living in the age of the internet is effecting our brains. Don’t Make Me Think is a great insight to how our cave man evolved brains our dealing with the massive over load of information everyone is faced with on a daily basis. It was written back in 2006 and although it does seem to be more and more pointless to read tech material that old, especially within web development, the psychology in website user interface still remains strikingly true.

Some key points:

We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice.

Which is to say no one really ever clicks that “link” because they calmly sat there, went through your entire page, and carefully weighed out why that link was exactly where they needed to go. Steve Krug compares the experience of visiting an unfamiliar website to a firefighter rushing into a burning building. We know the information is there, whether it’s on this website or not doesn’t matter since another site with relevant information is only a click away so the issue becomes how do I get to where I need to go as quickly as possible. Similarly to how a firefighter will deal with a high stakes scenario by finding the best possible plan of action as quickly as possible we dive in to any website just as quickly.

Here is an actual real life depiction of someone being forced to figure something out.
We don’t figure out how things work. We muddle through.

It doesn’t matter how much time you spend meticulously building the connection of your website layout or even the functionality of carefully thought out web app, the fact of the matter is very few people are ever going to take the time to figure it out. People are very comfortable using something even though they really have no idea how it works. So as a developer or designer it’s important to always keep in mind the user’s end goal in your website so you can direct them more efficiently. This is also why common conventions like button hover are incredibly important.

We don’t read pages. We scan them.

Like I mentioned earlier hardly anyone is ever going to read everything on a webpage. The reason has a lot to do with the fact that we are just so good at scanning, that plus our mission for looking up a website is going to affect how we interpret information as relevant or not to what we are doing.

Wether you work design, front-end, back-end or anywhere in between this book is definitely a must read. One of the best parts of the book is that it is a pretty fast read which makes sense since one of it’s main points is the need to minimize information to only what is absolutely important.