Softway Book Club: “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug

It’s the year 2000. Mobile phones still have antennas, self-respecting people all carry around a Discman, Microsoft has just launched Windows 2000, Bill Clinton is president of the United States, and Moby has captured the zeitgeist of the new millennium with Natural Blues, which plays incessantly on the radio. Meanwhile, Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland has just metamorphosed into the cult film The Matrix, and Steve Krug, our author, has just published the first edition of his book "Don't Make Me Think”.

Marta Guimarães Ferreira
Apr 2 2024 • 3 min reading
Softway Book Club: “Don’t make me think” by Steve Krug

Before we delve into this usability classic, which after twenty years is still regarded as a reference among web designers and programmers, perhaps we should introduce the man behind the legend. Steve Krug has a degree in psychology and has dedicated his career to simplifying the complexities of the user experience and emphasising the importance of investing in user-centred designs. As a usability consultant he has worked with big names in the tech world, such as Apple, Bloomberg and Lexus.

Given the unavoidable success of the book "Don't Make Me Think", Krug decided to launch a new edition in 2020, with current examples. At the end of the day, as the author says, "technology got its hands on some steroids", and the book needed to keep up with the dizzying evolution of the web and the respective needs of its users. We could get lost in Krug's various practical teachings, specific to the world of web design, but we thought it would be more interesting - since our readers come to us from a wide range of areas - to find a middle ground (forgive the foreignness). To stimulate our readers' interest, we've put together a set of points that can be applied to almost any area of specialisation:

  1. A user centered approach
    When considering usability, it's natural to gravitate towards the digital landscape, particularly within the realm of UX (user experience). Nevertheless, a user-centric perspective holds crucial importance across various domains, spanning from product sales to experiential offerings. Grasping the needs, preferences, and behaviors of users or customers stands as a cornerstone element for companies aiming to tailor their products or services to align with user expectations, whether these expectations are consciously recognized or subconsciously inferred.
  2. Don’t make your user think!
    Krug's wise saying nails down the golden rule of web usability: design should always be about making things easy for users while keeping their brains from overloading. This rule isn't just for websites though. Think about education—having clear, easy-to-follow teaching materials and chill learning spaces boosts focus and thinking time. And when it comes to chatting, keeping it short and sweet helps folks understand without having to strain their brains too much.
  3. Be straight-forward
    The importance of simplicity and clarity isn't limited to web design; it reaches far and wide across different domains. Whether it's crafting physical products, writing documentation, or organizing business processes, simplicity makes it easier for potential users to grasp and engage with what's offered. This leads to more effective interactions and outcomes across diverse fields of expertise.
  4. Striving towards an ongoing improvement
    Krug emphasizes that "there's always room for improvement." We have been echoing this sentiment in our blog, for quite some time now. We are firm believers that a stagnant website, lacking critical evaluation, risks becoming obsolete. Yet, this philosophy extends well beyond digital platforms, resonating across diverse fields such as architecture, medicine, education, design, business management, marketing, art, and personal development. Regardless of the domain, embracing methodologies like feedback integration and testing fosters progress and success.

Krug's principles of usability transcend the boundaries of web design, finding applicability across various domains. Similar to Krug's approach, inclusivity is a core value at Softway. For those readers with limited time or mental bandwidth to read the entire article, we want to ensure you grasp the key takeaways:

  • Companies, by helping users, help themselves;
  • Lastly, it's worth noting that Krug isn't a reference to Freddy Krueger, but rather the surname of the author behind "Don't Make Me Think”, which we highly recommend diving into!
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