Oldie but goodie: Don’t Make Me Think

Post of the week is a first book review of Don’t Make Me Think.

It’s a web development classic, and after a read, I think it’s for a good reason. Thanks to a friend at work, I finally got to read this long overdue classic. So here’s a quick and fast review.

What it won’t do

  • Tell you how to fix your website
  • Give you a list of 100 things that are Terrible and No One should do (unfortunately or fortunately, the world is more flexible than that)
  • Give you a list of 100 things TO do (see above)

What it will do

  • Show you an interesting perspective — someone whose daily job is to defend the users from well intentioned project managers, designers, and developers.
  • Remind you that there’s not so much an ‘average user’ and your assumptions may well be totally wrong.
  • Presents the arguments for your use when you’re playing that defender role in your own company.
  • Convince you you need to start user testing NOW.

Overall, a really good read. I found it especially interesting after studying Tufte, who has said in public (I saw) that focus groups are silly because you’re asking non-designers to design, essentially. I think Krug does a good job distinguishing user testing from focus groups though — and I suspect Tufte wouldn’t find fault with the approach.

I’m interested to learn more about user testing, as it seems that it is a gathering of data and less a dictation of “if they found it confusing, it must change” than “this is interesting data, let’s think about it from our multi-faceted and informed perspective as the makers of this tool.”

If you’ve read it, what do you think? Does your company do user testing often? What interesting things have come up?

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