Don't worry Steve, I'm not thinking ;)

April 6, 2005

These days, my leisure reading is dominated by non-fiction. As a kid, I remember being puzzled as to why anyone would choose to read non-fiction; at the time, fiction was far more entertaining. Anyways, just this past weekend, I read Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. It was an awesome, quick read on web usability. In it, Krug goes through a ton of material (he covers content delivery, front page and website layout, navigation, and even some advice on managing team relationships) and he does all of this in a concise way – the book is less than 250 pages and most pages are full of supporting examples and screen shots.

The main idea in the book is that most web sites are too confusing. Users have become used to certain constructs when browsing the web (such as navigation bars, buttons, logo placement, etc.) and are unsure of what to do when they get to a site that violates these norms. He asserts that with the advent of modern search engines, users will simply go somewhere else – probably your competitor’s site. In addition to web site layouts, Krug talks about how to deliver content to the user so that he/she can easily digest it and make choices without having to think too much. He is a big advocate of having more steps in a process with easier choices rather than one big decision on a single complicated page.

His arguments make a lot of sense, but I see how they can be taken too far. You definitely don’t want to get users in a zombie state where they just click through your site without thinking.

If you’re an interaction designer, web designer or pretty much have any responsibility over the user experience in general, whether it be online or offline, this book has some great insights and case studies to look at. Best of all, it’s so short you can easily read it on a single plane ride.

By the way, anyone notice that Amazon was testing out a new layout last night? I was browsing around and saw a strange vertical layout without any sidebars. It wasn’t just me either, I pointed it out to some people at the office and friends online and they saw the new layout as well. It looks like they’ve switched back to their normal layout now (argh, I should’ve snagged a screen shot), but I wonder if we’ll see them rollout this new layout soon πŸ™‚

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No Responses Yet to “Don't worry Steve, I'm not thinking ;)”

  1. JanSchmidt Says:

    At the “General Online Research Conference” in Zurich two weeks ago, Prof. Andreas Weigend who was Chief Scientist at Amazon.com from 2000 to 2004 remarked in his keynote that every now and then they would change layouts to test users’ behaviour (e.g. – do more people click on “Other recommended items” if they are displayed on the left vs. right side of the main column). With the heavy traffic on amazon.com, they could easily collect enough data within a day or so to compute significancies etc. So maybe that was another one of their experiments? πŸ™‚

  2. PLMIV Says:

    thanks alot for reintroducing me to that book, i’d forgotten about it. it’s just what i need to help me with my new store, since i’m obsessed with usability…many thanks

  3. Olaf Says:

    I’ve read the book and recommended to many other web designers. I thought it was an excellent read myself! Few other books have pulled me along consistently to the point (save Harry Potter), though this one was certainly the shortest.

  4. dali Says:

    Well I hope they are (experimenting). I hate it now. I am a BIG amazon customer, I love their prices and best of all, customer service, but the site has some problems.

    did you ever searched for an item, lets say RCA Lyra Audio/Video 20 GB Jukebox, adn you get to this page:
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00008VFCU/ref=pd_pym_ka/104-8258386-7551120
    but then, you want a list of all similar products? there is no “tree” like or path that goes to that category. Sure, there is a “similar” link which is OK, but it is a selection, not the root of a category path)


  5. […] d see I guess. btw, I think this is the layout I saw a few months ago and commented on at the end of this entry. Neat stuff!

    […]


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