don’t make me think

don't make me thinkWhen I started working in IT, I acquired a reputation for having an ‘affinity’ with computers.

This was, of course, complete nonsense. All I did, that no-one else seemed to do, was read the manual.

That’s not always a small feat, given that many computer-related manuals seem to have been written by people for whom English may be a second or third language. Or maybe the manuals were just bad translations. Or maybe the authors couldn’t write well.

In any case, I managed to glean enough from these publications – after applying a good smear of common sense – to appear to be well-informed about how computers work, why they often don’t and how to make them do what you want them to do.

It’s probably no surprise then that I really, really enjoyed reading about a book about usability on the web written by a guy who used to write computer manuals and who insists that his craft is “not rocket surgery”.

As his company’s URL and name imply, Steve Krug is big on common sense. He’s also very funny, easy to read and makes me feel his principles are easy to implement.

Like Jeffrey Veen in The Art and Science of Web Design (another of my ‘crucial’ web texts), Krug is happy to draw parallels between online behaviour and the real world, is prepared to use himself as an example and refers to actual websites, some of which he worked on.

As well as being well written, Don’t Make Me Think also happens to be very well edited, well laid out and altogether very well published (as my wife Hazel Flynn is a writer, an editor and a publisher, I feel vicariously qualified to comment on this).

Almost all aspects of the book are appropriate to its content. Like a good website, it has an excellent understanding of its audience, terrific content, great structure and excellent design.

Make that “Like an unusually good website …”

I read the second edition of Don’t Make Me Think, which I was able to buy from Amazon via Steve’s website in such a way that he gets a commission from the sale (“more than I earn on the royalty from each book”).

I read it all in one go – but then I do that with manuals too. More importantly, but still like a manual, I expect that I will return to Don’t Make Me Think repeatedly as I try to implement Krug’s advice on how to make websites usable.

Unlike setting up a computer or gadget, I fully expect that process to be more fun than if I hadn’t read this book.

Thank you, Steve Krug.