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WEB Design Books Designing Web Usability The Practice of Simplicity

  • Paperback: 432 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.02 x 9.51 x 6.75
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1st edition (December 1999)
  • ISBN: 156205810X
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars Based on 214 reviews. Write a review.
  • Sales Rank: 7,251


1 out of 5 stars ..., January 7, 2003
  Reviewer: rahurd (see more about me) from Knoxville, TN USA
When I bought this book, I did so under the false impression that the man who designed the book was also the author. Not so. As a CIW Master Site Designer, I am highly offended by this guy's oversimplified view of Web design and usability. One only has to take one look at his own Web site to see that his solutions are neither practical or "usable." Unfortunately, like so many in his profession, he completely disregards the fact that the Web is now a publishing medium - NOT a computer technology. More importantly, regarding e-commerce, it is a marketing tool; one can no longer disregard esthetics for the sake of "usability." Worse yet, like many of these so-called "usability professionals," he's treating the symptom and not the illness - poor browser software design. Most, if not all, of the usability issues for which Web designers and developers must compensate are due to lack of standardization and technological development in the browswer software industry. Sure, browser interfaces are getting prettier, but the guts of browser software still have not changed enough to appropriately accommodate the shift from technical tool to marketing medium. Of course, if these problems were solved, these high-priced "usability professionals" would be out of a job . . .

At any rate, I am a firm believer (and practitioner) of the philosophy that one does not need to sacrifice esthetics for usability, as opposed to the strategies presented herein by Herr Neilson. Do not listen to this man; he is a self-proclaimed "expert" who, by demonstration via his own Web site, has no clue how to address the true needs and concerns of Web customers - let alone, Web users. Stay away from this book!


3 out of 5 stars Lesson Learned; Lesson Forgotten, September 24, 2003

Top 1000 Reviewer Reviewer: Craig L. Howe (see more about me) from Darien, CT United States
This book did not resonate with me. Perhaps it is because I recently completed reading a great book on web design, "The Design of Sites."

It is not that the book is without merit. There are nuggets of wisdom buried in every chapter. Jakob Nielsen is an acknowledged web design expert. This book summarizes much of his thinking. Simplicity and usability should rule the web, according to the author. He is right. Users, or perhaps the term, surfers is more appropriate, are never more than one click from moving on to the next site.

There are some great chapters - the one on content design springs to mind. However, the book is like reading a W. E. B. Griffin novel. By the time you finish it, you realize it does not contain much new material. Topics and introductions are continually re-served and rehashed. At these prices, the author ought to credit his readers with enough intelligence to remember lessons taught in previous chapters.

The author's mantra is to know your user. This book would have been better if he accepted his own advice.


5 out of 5 stars A Must Read for Anyone Involved with Websites, December 25, 2000
  Reviewer: John Bailey (see more about me) from Arlington, VA
Jackob Nielsen has pulled together an excellent primer on usability for websites. Perhaps the easiest way to summarize his book is the book's tagline: "The practice of simplicty."

Web design has to this point been more of an intuitive art for many designers. Many web managers look at general graphic and layout design and not the functionality that design is suppose to enable. Nielsen takes this intuition and describes exactly what solid, functional web design looks like and what it should do.

He uses numerous real world examples and screen shots throughout the book. Scattered throughout are statistics from his research which are helpful as well. Nielsen also explains how website should differ from Intranet sites and also how to "internationalize" your website for foreign users.

One particularly helpful chapter focused on how to write for the web. A common theme throughout the book is that web users are impatient and thus prefer to skim rather than read. Thus, when writing web content, you should do so with skimming in mind using lots of bullets, and highlighting key words. He also advocates using Title tags for links so that when a user places a mouse cursor over the link, a little bubble help will appear describing where the link will take the user.

The chapter on page design is also particularly helpful in building in designing pages that tells the user where they are, what they can do from there, where they can go from there, and what is offered - all without scrolling.

Nielsen has become the Father of Usability on the Internet. This is a great book to give you some practical advice on design. It won't tell you how to do coding, but it gives you the conceptual framework needed to design a site. Even if you do not agree with all of his points, it will at least have encouraged you to think about aspects of design that many haven't considered.

5 out of 5 stars Give this book to anyone involved with the web., December 7, 2003
  Reviewer: patrickbyers (see more about me) from Bellevue, WA United States
Another Outsource Marketing favorite! We have given at least a dozen copies of this book to clients and friends of the firm.

If you like Jakob Nielsen's columns, this book is the full meal deal. It covers the principles of usability and includes dozens of illustrated examples.

Excerpt: "With about 10 million sites on the Web...and about 25 million by the end of the year...users have more choices than ever. Why should they waste their time on anything that is confusing, slow, or that doesn't satisfy their needs? ...As a result of this overwhelming choice and the ease of going elsewhere, web users exhibit a remarkable impatience and insistence on instant gratification. If they can't figure out how to use a website in a minute or so, they conclude that it won't be worth their time. And they leave."

To view Nielsen's excellent website on usability, visit

Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
by Steve Krug (Author)


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Editorial Reviews
Usability design is one of the most important--yet often least attractive--tasks for a Web developer. In Don't Make Me Think, author Steve Krug lightens up the subject with good humor and excellent, to-the-point examples.

The title of the book is its chief personal design premise. All of the tips, techniques, and examples presented revolve around users being able to surf merrily through a well-designed site with minimal cognitive strain. Readers will quickly come to agree with many of the book's assumptions, such as "We don't read pages--we scan them" and "We don't figure out how things work--we muddle through." Coming to grips with such hard facts sets the stage for Web design that then produces topnotch sites.

Using an attractive mix of full-color screen shots, cute cartoons and diagrams, and informative sidebars, the book keeps your attention and drives home some crucial points. Much of the content is devoted to proper use of conventions and content layout, and the "before and after" examples are superb. Topics such as the wise use of rollovers and usability testing are covered using a consistently practical approach.

This is the type of book you can blow through in a couple of evenings. But despite its conciseness, it will give you an expert's ability to judge Web design. You'll never form a first impression of a site in the same way again. --Stephen W. Plain

Topics covered:

  • User patterns
  • Designing for scanning
  • Wise use of copy
  • Navigation design
  • Home page layout
  • Usability testing

From Book News, Inc.
Krug, a usability consultant who has worked for companies like Apple and Netscape, offers sharp observations, a healthy dash of humor, and straightforward solutions to fundamental Web design problems. He shows how to design pages for scanning, how to eliminate needless words, how to design a home page, and how to streamline design for user navigation. He also reveals why most Web design team arguments about usability are a waste of time, and tells how to avoid them. Includes color examples from...
read more

Book Description

People won't use your web site if they can't find their way around it. Whether you call it usability, ease-of-use, or just good design, companies staking their fortunes and their futures on their Web sites are starting to recognize that it's a bottom-line issue. In Don't Make Me Think, usability expert Steve Krug distills his years of experience and observation into clear, practical--and often amusing--common sense advice for the people in the trenches (the designers, programmers, writers, editors, and Webmasters), the people who tell them what to do (project managers, business planners, and marketing people), and even the people who sign the checks.

Krug's clearly explained, easily absorbed principles will help you sleep better at night knowing that all the hard work going into your site is producing something that people will actually want to use.



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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars Should be the driver's license for web development tools, September 4, 2002

  Reviewer: Matthew D. Weseloh (see more about me) from The Colony, TX USA
Don't Make Me Think is like an operator's license for web site building software. An internet developer shouldn't be allowed to "turn the key" until they've digested this book.

Steve Krug's book is a quick read (190 pages) filled with insightful, entertaining and practical prose for those involved in internet development. He shows us what does and doesn't work, and then explains why. His extensive research into usability permeates every page.

The book itself is a stellar example of usability. Every graphic adds value and every paragraph amplifies the point. Color is effectively used, but not exclusively. Steve practices the techniques that he preaches. For example, the chapter called Omit needless words [The art of not writing for the web] is only 5 pages long.

Finally, he presents practical ways to perform usability testing (huh, what's that?) into the development process. Imagine knowing how user's will actually use your site.

I recommend this book to everyone involved in internet development. I've even assigned it to my children (ages 10 and 13) as they start their journey into internet development.


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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars This is how it should be done, January 10, 2001

Top 500 Reviewer Reviewer: atmj (see more about me) from Rochester, NY USA
The "show me" what you mean book of web usability review. I particularly like the common sense handling of the main web problems.

Some of the key things that are pointed out in this book are:

1. Don't make me think: Basically the web user does not want to venture into a site that requires them to figure it out. It should be self-evident. How do we use web pages:

a. We don't read pages, we scan them

b. We don't make optimal choices, we satisfice

c. We don't figure out, how things work, we muddle through

2. It doesn't matter how many times I click as long as each click is a mindless unambiguous choice

3. Get rid of half the words on each page, then get rid of half of what's left.

The first 5 chapters clearly illustrate the three "Krug's Laws of Usability" listed above with lots of pictures and examples. Well done.

His chapters on navigation and finding your way around are a cookbook on how to do it right. He finishes the chapters with several examples, first asking the reader to look at the examples and then discusses how he feels it should be redone. Excellent teaching tool. Similarly, he broaches the topic of the Home page and how it should be structured and the various forces pulling in different directions. The examples he gives at the end here too are a good teaching tool.

The remainder of the book discusses the design processes and the usability tests. These are excellent chapters in the forces at work and it is evident, he has done this many times from the information he has gathered.

He provides specific suggestions for web usability testing for various stages of sites as well as for various problems. This is wonderful guidance if you are new at this. He also provides a guideline on scripting and report writing. Nice job.

He winds up the book with recommended reading and also providing a website for readers of this book:


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Average Customer Review: 4.68 out of 5 stars

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4 out of 5 stars A call to simplify., December 7, 2003

  Reviewer: patrickbyers (see more about me) from Bellevue, WA United States
Another Outsource Marketing favorite!

Steve Krug couldn't have done a better job titling his book "Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability." It's filled with common sense approaches that help website developers, writers, designers, and architects create sites that decrease cognitive load and telegraph ideas quicker.

He practices what he preaches: the graphics, layout and copy are brilliantly executed. Complex ideas are made simple with clear charts and graphs. Technical terms are written clearly so non-technical people will easily understand. And this excellent book is one of those rare quick reads with substance.

After reading this book, check out Jakob Nielsen's "Designing Web Usability." The two books combined will give you a great foundational understanding of web usability.


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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars Simple and Straightforward, November 5, 2003

  Reviewer: aaron wall (see more about me) from charlestown, ri United States
There are some tips of usability which are not covered in this book. Some of the finer details are left out.

What this book does do is give you the bulk of the knowledge necissary to produce a very effective site for the average consumer.

The less we have to think the more we buy. What are you thinking about, just get the book!


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5 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Resource, October 31, 2003

  Reviewer: Chris O'Leary (see more about me) from St. Louis, MO USA
This is a great resource. It is more of a strategy book than a graphic design book. It focuses on the key things to keep in mind when designing a Web site or other product.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:

5 out of 5 stars should be in everyone's usability library, October 6, 2003

  Reviewer: Todd O Northcutt (see more about me) from Rancho Santa Margarita, CA United States
This book is fantastic and needs to be read by anyone in your company that has anything to do with page design, layout, site direction, etc.

It's short (180 pages), it's funny (he teaches "Advanced Common Sense"), is clear and concise. There's no excuse for not putting this one on your reading list.

Especially helpful were the examples of what TO do, what NOT to do and, importantly, how the author would fix the "NOT to do" examples. It ends with a few chapters on usability testing and includes a good script for do-it-yourself testing.



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