Steve Krug’s “Don’t Make Me Think” did just the opposite. It has me thinking of how I can make usability easier for my blog readers. His bottom-line agenda is to eliminate question marks that may form when someone is using a website. The edgy, conversational tone and funny footnotes make the book an enjoyable and rather quick read.
Krug gives the reader some basic ways that even a college student, like myself, can simplify a site without spending a pretty (or even ugly) penny. One of Krug’s biggest points is to make choices OBVIOUS. If a link is clickable, set it apart somehow from the normal text with underlining, coloring or using a bigger font.
Another way to make a site’s options obvious and visually appealing is to create a visual hierarchy, which does not necessarily mean from top to bottom. This can be done by prominence, grouping or nesting information. This is why I find “categories” on blogs helpful because it allows viewers to look at what interests or applies to them. I have a serious addiction to food blogs and Joy the Baker is my current favorite. Her categorical index helps a ton whenever I’m trying to decide on a recipe, because I’m often baking for a certain event or looking for a recipe with specific ingredients (hello, “Peanut Butter Meets Chocolate”. So dangerous).
Simplifying the site does not mean dumming it down. In fact, having a site that is straightforward will allow consumers to feel competent when using it. They will appreciate the ease of use. And that ease will more readily bring them back to your site again. It is important for the viewer to know – right off the bat – what the site is about and how it will help them. From that point, it should be obvious where to go for their specific needs.
Eliminating words is a great way to simplify a site. Marrying every word on the first draft is just asking for a nasty divorce. You will need to cut at least half of them off before you reach a final product…and a happy user. Having fewer words on the screen to choose from makes options more obvious and cuts opportunities for question marks to pop up.
Another interesting part of the book is Krug’s emphasis on testing websites. He cannot recommend it enough (the fact that that’s how he makes a living might have something to do with it) and insists it doesn’t even have to involve hiring a professional. Just having one outside person take a usability test could iron out many errors you and your colleagues overlooked.
One of the biggest problems company’s sites have is the point, use, message is not made clear. The company knows the material inside and out, so it can be a challenge building the site from a clueless (or clue-few) consumer’s perspective. If people do not know how a website can help them or what it is used for, why shouldn’t they click away? The trick when fixing the site is ironing out issues without creating other wrinkles.
Overall, Krug’s website wisdom is very applicable, even when using an already-formatted blog. It has helped me think about my site from the user’s perspective and how to make it more accessible for them. Thanks, Steve!