Don’t make me think! (Krug) — DAY 22

Let’s start the dive into this amazing book: Don’t make me think! From Steve Krug. In the first chapter, which has the same name as the book, Krug starts explaining about his first rule for usability:

Don’t make me think!

Don’t make the users think is the most important thing that designers should do to ensure that a website or app is easy to use. This is a law and decides whether a design works or not. It is the line between success and failure, and following the author, in order to achieve it a webpage must be:

  • Self-evident
  • Obvious
  • Self-explanatory

The user should be able to ‘get it’ at the first time, without needing any help. The user have to figure out by himself what is the website about and how to use it. Anyone who visit the webpage must be able to say “Oh! This is a ______”, even (or specially )if it is someone who don’t know anything about the page, the company or its products.

A good UX designer is the one who get rid of question marks from users’ minds. He makes the user’s mind flow within the page giving clues of what each section or element are talking about and are related to. Simple things, like the name chosen for a button, or even the button itself, can make a huge difference on eliminating question marks. Every option can be analyzed in a line going from obvious in one edge to require thought in the other, and pretty much always you will be better served with obvious options. Going back to the names, the book shows three options for the jobs section of a website: jobs, employment opportunities, job-o-rama. Which one do you think a user looking for jobs would find easily? Yep, you got it! (the first, jobs, if you didn’t). So, be careful with the names you choose, because they probably make a lot of sense for you and for the company, but the user is the one that should be in the center of your development.

Question marks add workload to our cognitive system, distracting us from what we really should pay attention on: the task we are trying to accomplish. If it happens once, you can say, it’s not a big deal. But if it happens a lot? This affects your reputation and the credibility of your site, at first, but also of the whole company in a second moment, as the user unconsciously thinks that the team didn’t care enough to make things easier. Even if it is only once in the whole experience, these milliseconds that happen inside users’ heads while trying to solve a question mark can affect the whole experience and impact in results.

The author also list some things that users shouldn’t spend their time thinking about. This is a good checklist for UX designers and beginners:

  • Where I am?
  • Where should I begin?
  • Where dd they put … ?
  • What are the most important things on this page?
  • Why did they call it that?
  • Is that an ad or part of the site?

The chapter finish talking about the difference between the self-evident and self-explanatory for a website. Sometimes, specially if your product is really new, you can’t make it self-explanatory from begin. You need a little bit more of explanation. In this cases, if you can’t make you site self-evident, at least you must make it self-explanatory. In order to achieve that, your whole system have to work towards this goal, with your colors, type, layout, size, names and a little information converging to explain your idea and make it understandable.

Why to think about all of these aspects? Because the user experience can help you on retention, conversion and a lot of other dimensions of your business. And don’t forget that in the internet, your competitor is always 1 click away.


Roberto Pesce —