I know I am probably late to the game but I have just completed reading through Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug. I have recently become very interested in learning more about what I can do as a developer to improve the user experience of the apps I write. The thing is, I am not and will never be much of a graphic designer or even a pro interaction designer. I do, however, think it is very important that I at least understand what it takes to be part of these disciplines.
Practice What You Preach
I would have written a shorter letter,
but I did not have the time.
There are so many things that I loved about this book but the main one is the fact that it really tries to follow its own advice. It is a book about good design and making things simple and it does exactly that with a simple layout and clear narrative. This may seem like a small thing but it most definitely is not. Making things very clear and concise is much more difficult than just writing and rambling. This book was designed to be read in a single airplane ride so it is fairly light weight. But this does not mean that the content is not deep.
It sounds like writing the second edition of this book was an exercise in usability testing and paring down to the bare minimum. Mr. Krug took his readers suggestions and comments about the first edition and took them to heart. As a result, there were chapters that were taken out in the transition for the good of the book. This is really a remarkable move by the author. Usually authors are trying to add more and more content to their books to sell more copies. Don't feel left out if you don't buy the first edition because the missing chapters are available online.
Worth Its Weight In Gold
To me, the chapter on how to do usability testing for cheap is worth more than the price of the entire book. Krug spells out a very simple and clear way in which you can do usability testing on your own for about $600 or less. I have already brought this up in my company and received approval to go forward with some testing. I am really excited about getting real fresh input on some of our web sites.
One thing I Didn't Like
I felt that the numerous footnotes in this book really distracted from the message of the book. I found myself constantly looking at the bottom of a page to read a footnote and losing my train of thought. Or, sometime I would reach the end of a page and see that there were footnotes on that page so I would go back and find the reference that I had missed. Again, this just distracted from the flow of the book. In many cases, the footnotes were just little jokes that could have been interjected into the text. I understand that the book is meant to be witty and easy to read, but many of the "jokes" just got in the way.
So go out now and buy this book. And let me know what you think and how you plan to apply it to your work.