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Issue 6.5


Book: Don't Make Me Think

Issue: 6.5 (July/August 2008)
Author: Dave Mancuso
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 4,009
Starting Page Number: 10
Article Number: 6506
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A few months ago I discovered a link to a Smashing Design questionnaire for Designers ("35 Designers, 5 Questions" at http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2007/04/20/35-designers-x-5-questions/). The page is worth a look for any designer, not just web developers, but what struck me was the answer to question 4, "1 design book you highly recommend to read."

The overwhelmingly recommended book was Don't Make Me Think, by Steve Krug. Feedback included "the best hour of your time you ever spent" and "it should be the law." Intrigued, I bought the book.

The designers were right. The book is clear, simple, and succinct. It takes you patiently through the mistaken assumptions of designers and shows you where design fallacies can be corrected. The book itself is cleanly laid out, with color illustrations that give good examples to complement the text. Krug talks about designing your interface for scanning, not reading. Users give sweeping glances to program interfaces, and a designer needs to decide what jumps out at the user and gets noticed. Krug also goes over "When bad design happens to good people," with appropriate examples. It helps a great deal to see bad design contrasted with good design, especially with the same screens juxtaposed with different design considerations.

Just as important, Krug gives a great scenario of client testing that's very applicable to the software development process, not just the design process. Even better, he gives you tiers of testing strategies based on your time and budget needs. If you have little time and no budget, there are still ways to test. The book advocates testing as a necessity, with the life of your project at stake. Krug strongly believes that any testing is better than no testing if your program is to be successful.

Krug also discusses the politics of client meetings and management of projects. He notes the different roles and pressures within a project, and how to navigate through them. It's good to see this kind of practical advice in the book.

At times, some of us feel that no matter how simply and helpfully we design the interface, users will complain. I feel that there's truth to this, but that it doesn't ultimately help your application to think this way. Don't Make Me Think is the kind of book that may tell you some things you already know, things that you might say are commons sense, but these are things that you need to be consistently mindful of, and here they're all together in one place.

As you might guess, I highly recommend Don't Make Me Think. You can find out more about the book at its website, http://www.sensible.com/.

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