Don’t Make Me Think

Author: Steve Krug

Get it from amazon.

A very short, precise, and concise book on how to approach a website designing keeping usability in mind.

In the latest addition author has added a new section for mobile usability. To make it clear, The mobile usability mentioned in this book is about websites that are mobile responsive, not the native mobile application.

Because building a good experience in the native mobile application is a different ball game. However, some guidelines like “Design with small space” might also be applied to native mobile applications.

We can pretty much see how much the author cares about usability from the book design itself.
The use of proper font, size of title and subtitle, proper space between paragraphs, website mockups, it’s makes our reading experience pleasant. We don’t feel the burden of reading a heavy book.

Here are my three takeaways from this book.

1. How we really use the web.

One of the eye-opening moments which I didn’t realize until I read it here. That is…

We don’t read pages, We scan them.

We’re just looking for the bits that match our interests or the task at hand, and the rest of it is irrelevant.

Personally, when I am looking for something. I don’t read the whole page. I just look for the keyword in which I am interested. It’s also similar to how I look directly for the answers before reading the entire question in StackOverflow.

That’s why billboard works. Because it gives important information at glance.

So, avoid clutter on the website like adding big images, using filler words, or hiding important information.

Design the website with the first law of usability i.e “Don’t make a user think”. When they land on your website, they should “get it”.

2. Usability testing

Sometimes what we think is not what the users think. They use the website in a very different way than what we designed for.

So How do we know how the user uses your app?

The answer is. Usability testing.

There are a lot of usability testing methods that are very expensive. The author’s usability testing is as simple it can be. Just get a person on sit on the computer, give me them a task to perform and see how they use it. Take notes or recordings.

While doing the usability test, you will be amazed at how the user uses your app. Because a lot of people think Google is the Internet.


The main difference is that in usability tests, you watch people actually use things, instead of just listening to them talk about them.

Try to include the stakeholder in usability testing to get an idea of how their product is working in the real world.

3. Follow the standards

As Creative person, we always want to thrive to do something new, something innovative. But the author suggests keeping things simple. Use things which are already well tested in the field for many years.


For example

  1. Showing logo on the top left.
  2. Brand tagline after logo
  3. Navigation below the brand logo.
  4. Highlight clicked links.
  5. Use different colors for already clicked links.

Innovate when you know you have a better idea, but take advantage of conventions when you don’t.

That’s it folk. I highly recommend this book. It’s very light and easy to read. You can get it from amazon.

Highlighted Quotes

  1. Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not about technology. And while technology often changes quickly, people change very slowly.
  2. If Web pages are going to be effective, they have to work most of their magic at a glance. And the best way to do this is to create pages that are self evident, or at least self-explanatory.
  3. Back is the most-used button in Web browsers.
  5. I’ve come to think that what really counts is not the number of clicks it takes me to get to what I want (although there are limits), but rather how hard each click is.
  6. Don’t make me jump through hoops just because you don’t want to write a little bit of code.
  7. Clear, well-thought-out navigation is one of the best opportunities a site has to create a good impression.
  8. It doesn’t make much difference whether you go with cascading menus or mega menus if nobody understands the value proposition of your site.
  9. You can find a more problems in half day than you can fix in a month.
  10. They really are FAQs, not marketing pitches masquerading as FAQs (also known as QWWPWAS: Questions We Wish People Would Ask).
  11. Blind people with access to a computer can now read almost any newspaper or magazine on their own. Imagine that. How many opportunities do we have to dramatically improve people’s lives just by doing our job a little better?
  12. It’s not what we call ourselves that matters, it’s the attitude we bring and the skills we can contribute.

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