Don’t Make Them Think


When you are driving down the highway at 65 mph, you’re not really thinking about what the billboards on the side of the road say, right? Steve Krug’s text Don’t Make Me Think uses the analogy that people who use apps or visit websites are viewing these sources of information as billboards and nothing more. So what does Krug say to that? You better make your design a great billboard. 

Krug’s job is to test out different technologies and see how user friendly and functional they are, along with what kind of experience it will bring to the users. As a usability professional, he notes that sometimes things are not obvious until it is pointed out to you, and that’s where he comes in. Krug claims that it is important for your designs to be the following:

  1. Consistent. You want your designs to speak to the users, and make them understand what you are presenting to them.
  2. Self-explanatory. Your job is to limit the amount your users think, so they can get what they want out of your product.
  3. Clickable. You need to make it look as though the user can click anywhere that they need to get to, so they don’t get frustrated (the last thing you want is a frustrated user).

These tips will help your designs be seen and not passed over, like most designs do. Because as Krug says in chapter 2, “How We Really Use the Web”, users glance at each page they see typically with the hopes of scanning them in order to find something generally similar to what they are looking for. We scan pages because we are:

  1. We are usually on a mission and can’t take time to look at every single word.
  2. We know we don’t need to read everything.
  3. We are good at it by now.

But as much as those in the usability profession such as Krug is try to inform designers of these inevitable human traits, they design for completely different purposes than what it is actually used for. Readers tend to not choose the best option, but instead, the first reasonable option for the same reasons listed above. This says a lot about humans as a whole; we tend to settle. And that is what is hurting the field of design.

Krug understands that billboards are designed with the intentions of having people in their cars see their product or service and if it is close by or in the area, go to it. He also understands that users tend to see products such as apps, websites, or other technologies, are seen by viewers as billboards. So his response to designers is this: give in to the pressure and design great billboards that users will want to use and see.


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