I had been recommended the book Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug a few times in the last few years. After all the chips had fallen and my 20s wound down to an end I found myself as a Creative Director with no creative training. I have an undergrad Biological Anthropology degree and my last Masters was in media research. Yet, along the way I had helped someone with a wordpress site here, edited a video there and in the end became a generalist in enough software packages to be functional enough to guide a research company’s creative direction. I immediately jumped on the chance to read this book and find out its insights on functional website design so I could at least hold my own in conversations with my focus group moderating co-workers. I had seen many sessions, but had never thought of myself as a usability expert like they were.
The first thing I noticed was the 2006 copyright. While lolcats may have not changed that much in 6 years I am sure that functional websites have. Maybe I should have read the book when it was released instead of around the time that it needs a new edition. Still common sense hasn’t changed and therefore the approach should be the same. Essentially the book says that people shut their brains down to a low roar and navigate the path of least resistance. What this book hopes to provide is a break down of what those obstacles are that impede the flow of traffic to the end result (often a sale or a relevant article) and showcase web design conventions to facilitate these results. The books begins with many quotes of praise saying that it practices what it preaches by being short and to the point. I argue otherwise. How can a book repeat the same thing over and over again for 200 pages and be considered good. Why make a slew of chapters about different parts of a webpage if your only suggestions/recommendations are to cut down all excess images and text and make things like like their functionality.
I feel like these tidbits of advice aren’t so groundbreaking since the advent of web 2.0. People in my generation have embraced large striking photography and minimalist wordings. The current trend is away from verbose blogging to succinct tweeting and image tumbling. I understand that monolithic websites are still used and needed, but anyone making those sites would need more than this book by their side. As a book for general lay people this one is only good for a quick browse over a coffee table, if only to laugh as they reference Yahoo as the major search engine of the web.