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BookReview: Don't Make Me Think
by Steve Krug, New Riders Press, 8/18/2005, 0321344758

Steve Krug is a web usability consultant. The book covers usability well. His writing includes too many "trivia" and "joke" footnotes for my taste, but it doesn't distract from the message: keep it simple and test with real people.

Since it is a book about usability, I think he could have done a better job with the medium. It's laid out in classic designer style, which is nice, but it tries too hard, e.g. the square brackets around the page numbers, which are red and centered at the bottom of the page. The square brackets are unnecessary, chart junk -- although I have no doubt he has read and probably admires Tufte.

Another usability issue with the book are the references. While he underlines and turns blue every link in the footnotes, he doesn't do the same in the text, where it is hard to see the link. Another issue is that sometimes he lists a link to a specific reference simply as www.sensible.com or www.useit.com. (Also, sensible.com doesn't redirect to www.sensible.com, which I find odd since it's a major usability issue on the web.) When you get to his website, there are no links to the references on the home page, and if you drill down to "The book" link, you don't get a list of references there, either. Sometimes he has a footnote, e.g. "I'll keep an updated list of recommendations on my Web site.", without listing the website. I don't want to think, give me the direct URL, thanks.

This gets back to my URLby idea, which I think has merit, but no time. URLby is about managing book and article references

automatically with deadlink detection and short links for printing.

Krug gets it right with this quote:

[p138] In fact this is one of the reasons why I've almost completely stopped generating written reports (what I refer to as the "big honking report") for my expert reviews and usability tests. I finally realized that for most Web teams their ability to find problems greatly exceeds the resources they have available to fix them, so it's important to stay focused on the most serious problems.

Amen. The book is short, which I like. It has well-illustrated examples. The annotated recommended reading list includes standard fare and some books I haven't read, which I intend to read. It even includes sample emails from Krug to send to CEOs who want to muck with web designs. The problems of web design are not new. It's just very hard to find the time to implement all the solutions to the problems we see in our designs.

Via Rob 2007