Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think is a thin book that packs in a lot of good stuff.
After reading only a few pages the strong points of the book stand out: easy to read, lots of practical examples, often funny, and technology-agnostic. I like good writing and Steve's style alone makes the book worth reading. However, the bottom line is that the content is fantastic and I think the brevity of the book works in its favor. The book is not the be-all and end-all of web usability but it's a good start that will appeal to designers and developers - I'm definitely in the second group - and hopefully non-technical people too.
Steve does lay out some rules, his first being the title of the book. He explains that web pages must be bleedingly obviously self-evident as to their purpose (he puts it better that that, of course). He then goes to look at some other guidelines, and sites that get it right and wrong. One part of the book is dedicated to usability testing. The final section covers accessibility and looks at CSS.
A couple of key things I took away from the book in terms of design and usability:
- keep things really, really simple
- do usability testing
- make the main page elements stand out (page title, section, navigation) and keep them consistent throughout the site
- halve the words on the page...and then remove some more
- the majority of visitors to the site will "satisfice" by scanning text, not reading it
Of course there were lots more gems and pointers to further reading, but you'll have to read the book for yourself!
Tags: Steve Krug, usability, web design, review