Book Notes: Don't Make Me Think, Revisited by Steve Krug

My notes for the book Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited by Steve Krug.

How People Use The Web

Maximize Understanding

  1. Take advantage of conventions, but realize that clarity trumps consistency.
  2. Create effective visual hierarchies:
    • Which things are most important
    • Which things are similar
    • Which things are part of others
  3. Break up pages into defined areas.
  4. Make it obvious as to what’s clickable.
    • Utilize shape, location, and formatting to achieve this.
  5. Minimize distractions. Consider three kinds of noise:
    • Shouting
    • Disorganization
    • Clutter
  6. Format text to support scanning
    • Use headings effectively
    • Break text up into short paragraphs
    • Use bullet points
    • Highlight important words

Let Users Make Mindless Choices

Omit Needless Words

Web Navigation

Navigation is not just a feature of a site; it is the site.

Purposes of navigation:

  1. It tells us what’s here—reveals content
  2. It tells us how to use the site—should be the only instructions necessary
  3. It gives us confidence in the people who made it—the best way to make a good impression

Persistent components of every page:

  1. Logo
  2. Section Navigation
  3. Utilities (Account, Login, Logout, etc.)
  4. Return to home (often logo)
  5. Search (which should be simple, and always be labeled using the word “Search”)
  6. Page names (with the correct placement and prominence)
  7. Current section indicator
  8. Breadcrumbs (if there are many levels to the site)

Apply the “Trunk Test” to assess usability of any page. Go to a random page and answer the following:

  1. What site is this?
  2. What page am I on?
  3. What are the major sections?
  4. What are the options at this level?
  5. Where am I relative to the hierarchy?
  6. How can I search?

The Home Page

Disagreements About Usability

The myth of the average user—there is no average user.

All web users are unique and all web use is basically idiosyncratic.

Usability Testing

Mobile Usability

Something is usable if a person of average ability and experience can figure out how to use the thing (i.e. it’s learnable) to accomplish something (effective) without it being more trouble than it’s worth (efficient).

Usability as Common Courtesy

Things that diminish goodwill

Things that increase goodwill


Accessibility is the right thing to do, but it can be difficult to make an accessible site.

Four things to do:

  1. Fix the usability issues that confuse everyone.
  2. Test with users using adaptive technologies.
  3. Read accessibility books (e.g. “Web Accessibility: Web Standards and Regulatory Compliance”)
  4. Fix the low hanging fruit.

Making Usability Happen Where You Are

Final Tips