“Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug is a great asset to people trying to create user-friendly websites. Krug uses business websites for most of his examples but all of the tactics discussed would greatly improve the layout, functionality, and overall impression of any kind of webpage. The title of the handbook, “Don’t Make Me Think” could basically be the tagline for his consulting business based on his teaching methods. He explains that webmasters over-estimate the attention users give their website. We don’t start at the top and read all of the copy, labels, or even look at all the pictures. We are scanning quickly and erratically for key words. We don’t want to have to think about what to click next or where to look for the search bar, the website should make it easy for us. The faster we find them and understand how to navigate the page, the easier our experience is, and we gain trust in the business and their website. Krug uses human tendencies recorded from his own research to guide webmasters in designing and writing for websites that are efficient and effective.
The fact is websites should be treated like a billboard for a company, not a brochure. Web users are looking for specific words or phrases. Good, clear design can help steer your customer in the right direction. Visual hierarchy draws attention to the most important details, and shows accurately the relationship between things on a page. Important text should be larger, bolded or a different color, to differentiate it from other words. Staying true to conventions also makes for user-friendly web design. Some web designers fail here for the sake of trying to be creative or innovative with their designs. However, conventions work because humans are creatures of habit. For instance, I always look in the upper right hand corner of the homepage. I am conditioned to do this because it has become a convention most websites follow. If I can’t find it there, I may become frustrated and move on to another site. Or the quality of my experience and trust in this specific company or organization might fall. It is also important to make things that are clickable obvious. The idea is to get customers to move beyond the homepage, so this step is key. Using actual icons that look like buttons is the best bet in my opinion.
The home page is the most important page of a website. A Krug puts it; homepages are the “waterfront property” of the Internet. Users have a choice of what pages to navigate to away from the homepage, but everyone starts there, so it must appeal to all kinds of people. It should answer the following questions within a few seconds of glancing:
- What is this?
- What can I do here?
- What to they have here?
- Why should I be here?
If the homepage can answer these questions, while having a visually appealing layout, you have a much higher chance of reeling in the customer, and keeping them at your page.