be mindless and kill the happy

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Krug, chapters 4-6

Chapter 4 - "The point is, we face choices all the time on the Web and making the choices mindless is one of the main things that make a site easy to use."(43)

As a habitual questioner of all things, online or off, I appreciate this rule.  I like anything that will cut down on my reasoning process.  Alright, I'm just plain indecisive sometimes.  Well, a lot of the time.  In life, if I don't feel like I have enough information I'll start asking several other questions.  For example, I'm the one in a restaurant who, when trying to order a salad, reads the menu but then still asks 20 questions.  Does the salad have onions? Are the dressings homemade?  Are they fat free?  Can I get it without the olives?  And this aspect of my personality is just magnified on the internet.  If I can't find what I'm looking for I direct my round of questioning to the website itself - that is, I start searching and clicking everywhere for the information I'm trying to find.  (This also ties into Krug's web audience analysis from earlier in the book, in which he describes users as "muddling through" a website)

Chapter 5 - "If you're not sure whether something is happy talk, there's one sure-fire test: If you listen very closely while you're reading it, you can actually hear a tiny voice in the back of your head saying, "Blah blah blah blah blah..." (46)

This almost made me laugh out loud.  I always think something along these same lines when I'm reading (or skimming for a very brief second) the opening pages of a website I've never been to before.  I don't even bother to read the sites I'm on often; I'm there for a specific purpose.  Take the SHU homepage; usually, I’m there to check my e-mail or log onto GriffinGate.  I couldn't begin to tell you what public address it makes to new visitors, if any.

The next sentence, however, kind of made me cringe:

"A lot of happy talk is the kind of self-congratulatory promotional writing that you find in badly written brochures." (46)

This caught me because of my communication studies.  I definitely don't want to be the author of "happy talk," which is really a nice way of saying "weak writing with no substance or appeal to your audience."  I think if you're just learning (like me) or just not being careful when writing promotional pieces, "happy talk" is an easy trap to fall into.

Chapter 6 - "Navigation isn't just a feature of a Web site; it is the Web site, in the same way that the building, the shelves, and the cash registers are Sears.  Without it, there's no there there." (59)

This chapter packed a lot of punch; it gave you a very concise but detailed overview of effectively designed Web navigation, along with an introduction that explained users’ underlying need for Web navigation. 

I understood the logic behind many of the main concepts, such as including a Site ID (in the upper-left hand corner, ideally), a set of primary navigation tools (sections), secondary navigation tools (subsections), utilities tools, "you-are-here" denotations, search engines, "breadcrumb" tools, and visual to logical hierarchy consistency.  However, I was frustrated because I know I don't know the coding/programming skills necessary to create such design elements.  I wouldn't even know where to begin.

Nevertheless, I don't feel too discouraged because I don't think the point is for me to go out and learn the coding skills because I don't want to design websites for a living.  However, I do want to be a member of the communication profession, and as such it is likely that I will interact with those who do create websites for a living.  At least from reading this book I'll know the background of their field and we will (hopefully) be able to communicate intelligently. 

 

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