Krug: The Archetype.

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Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability presents the theoretical archtype for web usability.  But really, his book is a archetype for all books about web design and writing.

Don't Make Me Think was like a breath of fresh air in the world of internet texts.  Although I was more or less forced to read the book, (as part of my EL236: Writing for the Internet) the book didn't feel forced at all.  It was a quick and easy read.  Moreover, it was succinct and clear while also being incredibly informative.  Web usability and usability testing were not subjects I had every really been introduced to; after reading this little book, however, I feel not only acquainted with the subjects, I feel as if I know them well enough to use the principles they express.  Ultimately this is the goal of any how-to book or college text, but many fall short of the standard.

Besides packing a lot of power in a few pages, Don’t Make Me Think is a web book that actually practices what it preaches.  The book is catchy in design, layout and text.  Headings, phrasing, comparisons and examples all pull you into the book, rather than lull you to sleep.  And these elements may only seem "skin deep", but they really equated to a higher interest in and higher understanding of the text.  The design of Krug's own book was the best example of the benefits of usability he could have ever offered his readers.  I can probably say I learned more from this text than the others read in this class; not that the others weren't valuable, they were, Krug just bested them in the presentation of his information.  His presentation upped my retention. 

My classmates Megan, Anne, and Jed - among others - all had very positive reviews about the book too, which again speaks volumes about its effective, easy style and refreshing simplicity. This was the third in line for web texts in this class, which presented it with the very formidable task of being interesting and useful to students who were probably feeling, at best, tired, and at worst, exasperated and frustrated!  But Krug delivered.

In addition to Krug's catchy presentation of ideas, his ideas in themselves were well-rounded and useful.  The book logically progressed from principles of web use, to principles of web design, to usability testing and associability.  He even found room to discuss professional conflicts.  And although the book was written in 2000 and some of its examples are obscure and even admittedly outdated, they still resonate with the audience.  Conventions are conventions.  What was "good design" in 2000, I think, is basically still "good design" in 2008.

The only suggestion I'd give to Krug for a future edition would be to cut down a few of the lengthy chapters (chapter 6 and 7).  These two chapters seemed to break the short and snappy pace of the book.  I'd keep all the ideas, most definitely, but I'd categorize them into separate, shorter chapters so readers wouldn't feel so overwhelmed by a long stream of endless content.  It was a lot to take in at once. 

 

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