Sunday, May 13, 2007

Don't Make Me Think (1)

I've started reading a new book about website usability: "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug.

The book discusses how to optimize website design to enable users to breeze through the navigation, without having to think. Here are some of the good lessons/take-aways from the book:

1. When you're creating a website, your job is to get rid of the questions that users face when they look at a page. ("Where should I start? Why did they call it that? Can I click on that? Why did they put there there? What is this?") Everything should be obvious to the user--what the site's purpose is, what they should do, etc.

2. People don't usually read web pages--they scan them. They tend to focus on words and phrases that seem to match the task at hand, or their current/ongoing personal interests. There are some trigger words that are hardwired, such as "sex," "sale," "free," and our own name.

3. Design pages for scanning by following 4 simple rules:

  • Create a clear visual hierarchy on each page: the more important something is, the more prominent it is; things that are related logically are related visually; things are "nested" visually to show what's part of what
  • Break up pages into clearly defined areas: glancing around, users should be able to tell, "Things I can do on this site! Links to today's top stories! Products this company sells! Navigation to the rest of the site!"
  • Make it obvious what's clickable
  • Keep the noise down to a dull roar: eschew business and background noise; simplicity is good

4. Get rid of half of the words on each page, then get rid of half of what's left.

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