The latest book I read was a gem, pure and simple. I’ve read about usability with some frequency online and I’ve attended Human Factors usability training. It turns out the best documentation on the whole web usability question is in the form of a short and sweet book by Steve Krug called

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<a href=""><em>Don't Make Me Think</em></a>

Definitely a must buy, Don't Make Me Think runs the gamut from name dropping William Strunk to explaining exactly why one would benefit from copying Amazon to just how to cheaply and easily make usability testing a part of every project. There’s a reason that this book costs as much on as it does on it’s that good.

Brain Dump:

Most important usability feature: Don’t make me think.

Happy talk must die:

  • Avoid Self congratulatory promotional writing
  • Web users don't have time for small talk

Omit needless words (Strunkism).

No one will read instructions unless your site sucks.


  • Helps us find what we're looking for
  • Tells us where we are
  • Gives us something to hold on to - feel grounded
  • Tells us what is here
  • Tells us how to use the site - instructions
  • Gives us confidence in the people who built it

Every page needs a name - highlights in navigation are not sufficient. (Name needs to match what was clicked.)

Make tabs look tabby.

Copy Amazon tabs:

  • Physically connect with space below.
  • Color code different sections.
  • Make sure a tab is selected at beginning of site.

Trunk test for good web navigation. On any page, answer these questions:

  • What site is this? (Site ID)
  • What page am I on? (Page name)
  • What are the major sections of the site?
  • What are my options at this level? (Local navigation)
  • Where am I in the scheme of things?
  • How can I search?

Convey the big picture on the home page. Answer:

  • What is this?
  • What can I do?
  • What do they have here?
  • Why should I be here versus somewhere else?

Avoid mission statement on home page.

Home page is one of the most important pages to test.

Get a good tagline.

Home page should show where to start if:

  • I want to search
  • I want to browse
  • I want to sample stuff

It’s OK for homepage to have different orientation from the rest of the site, though navigation should have commonalities.

The book contained too many excellent usability testing tips to count.

Accessibility low-hanging fruit:

  • Add appropriate alt text to every image
  • Make your forms work with screen readers (use label element)
  • Create "skip to main content" link at the beginning of each page
  • Make all content accessible by keyboard
  • Don't use JavaScript without good reason
  • Use client-side image maps

Feb 15, 2007 · Subscribe · Archive · Projects · Twitter · GitHub · Flickr