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Steve Krug is the author of Don’t Make Me Think and Rocket Surgery Made Easy. His books are based on the 20+ years he’s spent as a usability consultant for a wide variety of clients like Apple, Bloomberg.com, Lexus.com, NPR, and many others.
Steve recently joined us to talk about the latest version of his book, Don't Make Me Think.
I did a second edition about six years ago, and the candid story about that is all over the place. Basically, I did it because I could get a new contract. I didn’t think there was that much that had changed. I read through it again, and thought, “This is still all pretty much what I’d say, and still pretty much all true.”
Here it is now, another six or seven years later, and as I describe in the introduction to the new edition, it’s no surprise to anybody that things have changed a lot lately. [laughs] .
I think out of the top 20 takeaways, like 16 of them are still the same top takeaways from the first edition, because even though the technology changes really fast, the basic usability issues don’t change that fast.
...even though the technology changes really fast, the basic usability issues don’t change that fast.
But on the other hand there are a bunch of new things happening and a lot of them relate to mobile where there really are different considerations for usability, given that mobile just fell out of the sky like a piano and landed on us.
I guess one of the key takeaways for mobile is to have an understanding of exactly how many tradeoffs you’re dealing with. Particularly where people are compelled to come up with a one‑size‑fits‑all design, I think they need to be aware that there are always going to be tradeoffs and that you can make whatever tradeoffs you want as long as you’re continually going in and making sure that you haven’t messed up the usability.
I did do a little bit of user research. [laughs] I would ask people, particularly whenever they asked me if I was going to do a new edition, "What would you want in it?" They’d think about it and they’d say, “Maybe new examples. And mobile.”
One was I felt a little bad about not having a section with the heading “If you love Amazon so much, why don’t you marry it?” because that was one of my favorite headings.
But that section was focused on tabs and obviously Amazon hasn’t used tabs for 10 years now. I actually think I’m going to do a blog post, the title of which would be, “If you still love Amazon so much, why don’t you marry it?” and talk about the other things that I think Amazon does incredibly well.
I actually have a blog and I always say I’m going to start writing more on my blog, but I think this time around I probably will, because I have so much stuff left over in my head that there wasn’t room or time enough to do in the book.
Part of doing the new edition of the book meant going out and looking at a lot of stuff.
What surprised me was—and this is where I’m going to get in trouble—that I was disappointed that in some ways stuff was just falling apart, I find, rather than getting better. I was disappointed by a lot of what I saw, and it was hard to find really good examples of things done well
...I was disappointed that in some ways stuff was just falling apart, I find, rather than getting better.I attribute some of it to the fact that people are so busy refitting new storm windows for mobile, and trying things out, but we’ll see.
What I usually recommend is if people aren’t doing usability work where you are, do a skunkworks thing and put on a usability test. Just say, "All right, we’re going to do a usability test of our competitors. So next Thursday we’re going to have two people come in and they’re going to use two of our competitor’s sites to try and do the same thing they would do on our site, and everybody’s invited and we’re going to have really good snacks," because you know how much I tout the value of good snacks.
Then just do it, and the nice thing about it is people will come and watch because everybody wants to know how your competitors are doing. Everybody assumes that you’re doing OK, but they really want to know how your competitors are doing.
I suppose I should do an update of Rocket Surgery just to encompass mobile testing, because mobile testing wasn’t a thing when I wrote it. I put some of that in the testing chapter in this new edition, including Brundlefly, my mobile testing camera cobbled together from a book light and a webcam.
(Editor's Note: Cronenberg's The Fly was released in 1986 - there goes our Sci-Fi credibility.)
I just watched it the other day and it scared me. Cronenberg at his best. It was really creepy. Plus what’s‑her‑name, was so gorgeous at the time. What is her name? She was married to Jeff Goldblum at the time.
See now, if only we had a way to look that up.
The best way for me [laughs] is to go to Sensible.com and go to the page for Don’t Make Me Think, and click on one of the links there that are going to make me an extra dollar from Amazon Associates. If you feel like taking an extra two clicks and doing me a favor, then that’s always nice. It’s available in Kindle on Amazon and it’s available in the other e‑book formats and PDF at the Peachpit.com site. There are links for all of those on the book page at my site.
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