Bookshelf: Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited

Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web and Mobile Usability is a new edition (2014) of a classic book in the field of web usability (also called User Experience or UX). Krug has a conversational style that minimizes the tech talk and he uses cartoons and realistic website examples throughout the book to make his points clear. It’s a slim book, with new content on how to think about your site on mobile phones that’s fresh and easy-to-understand.

Dont-Make-Me-Think-2014-coverThis book is not just for web designers but for any organizer who wants to understand what will make your organization’s online communications work better.

The centerpiece of Steve Krug’s work is his first rule of usability: “Don’t make me think.” Your web visitors will respond best to obvious choices that don’t require a lot of figuring out or “decoding.” Although it’s easy to think of UX as something that is more important for commercial websites, this is an especially useful concept for social justice activists to remember as you work on your web-based content.

Why should social justice groups be concerned about UX? In many cases, you are promoting ideas that require thought — maybe a different way to think about criminal justice, public education or workers’ rights. So, don’t use up your web visitors’ mental energy by making them have to figure out where you blog is, or where to find your office address. Make the experience of your website as intuitive as possible. Save the big thinking of web visitors for the ideas you’re spreading.

Some of the ground he covers:

  • How to design for visitors who are scanning content rather than reading every word (Chapters 2 and 3)
  • How to avoid arguments about what’s going to work better on your website (Chapter 8)
  • Why your website should be “a mensch” (Chapter 11)
  • What we really mean by “writing for the web” — omitting needless words and instructions (Chapter 5)

Improving your organization’s website takes many of the same qualities central to organizing: listening, respecting and responding to people’s real-life concerns. As Steve Krug points out late in the book, empathy is practically a prerequisite for people who want to improve user experience. This book will show you how you can apply empathy to your organization’s web-based interactions.

You don’t have to be a geek to appreciate and learn from Steve Krug’s book. But, if you are, it will be especially enjoyable.

My Latest Tweets