Jul 19, 2006

Don't make me think!

That’s Krug’s Law, and the title Steve Krug’s irreverent book about web usability. If you have a web site, this little book (181 pages) could make a big difference. It could also help you improve standard work documents, visual controls and building signage.

Steve doesn’t call it the gemba, but he knows where to find it. Right next to the user trying to get something done on your site. Conference-room debates about what the “average user” will do are about as worthwhile as what the “average worker” will do, or how the “average part” will go through a process.

Web designers create waste when they don’t understand “eye paths,” what a person does when encountering a web page, brochure, or printed instructions. People don’t start at the top left corner and read down each column from left to right.

They scan, zig-zagging down the page to see if there’s anything there they care about. There are visual dead spots, like the upper right-hand corner and the lower left. Steve shows how to make a visual hierarchy that telegraphs how the page’s information is structured. What happens when someone sees your web site or powerpoint presentation?

Krug’s “second law of writing for the web” (or anything else) is …
You’d be surprised at how many needless words we use – OK in conversation – but waste in writing that must convey information fast. Here’s a game I like to play using the word-count function in Microsoft Word’s tools. Take a piece of writing and cut it by 20%, then go back a week later and cut 20% more.

Steve’s book is visual, with a big investment in color printing and pictures of real web pages. The “before” and “after” examples are eye-opening. Steve reveals the principles of good navigation – also applicable to where to put your andon boards, or other plant visuals.

[I just cut the text above from 381 words and 1775 characters to 318 words and 1519 characters – only about 15%, but I added a thought. Hey- I went back and got two more without even trying.]

So get the book, and tell me what you think. Don’t make me think

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