Book Review: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Ever feel frustrated trying to help a user understand how to retrieve a lost password in xoops? ("I don't see my new password in the email -- all I see is a link!") How to edit their profile ("Oh, I can change my own email address?") or how to find their way around a XOOPS site ("Why is this called downloads? What is that? What's a FAQ?").

As someone who has spent more time on the phone than she'd like to admit, trying to help a user even get on the Internet, I share your pain. ("Go to the start button and open up your browser, you know -- Internet Explorer -- no, NOT your Lotus Notes mail client! Okay... got IE open? Now type in the address window the following URL... ")

Makes me crave a stiff drink just thinking about all the time I spend on my job doing first line user support.

Let's face it, usability is a huge issue in website design. In fact, one might argue that it's the only issue. The cold hard fact is that if people don't find your website user friendly, they probably won't use it.

I just finished reading Steve Krug's book, Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability and he does a great job of demonstrating how people actually process information when navigating a website.

Krug's basic premise is that people don't read, they scan. He states most web designers believe people actually linger over each page, reading every word -- when in reality, people quickly click on the first thing they think "fits" with what they're looking for, and if that link doesn't turn out to be what they expected, they get frustrated. And frustrated users aren't good. (Especially if they end up calling me.)

He also details how to go about conducting usability testing and how important it is, even though most organizations skip that step because they don't have the time/resources/money.

I highly recommend this book -- it's well written, has lots of graphic examples and really brings home the fact that web designers and developers have to make it a priority to design their websites and programs in a way that doesn't make the user think too much.

Of course, this book has made me re-evaluate my own XOOPS sites. My head is swimming with ideas on how to make my websites and XOOPS processes more user friendly, and of course, my 'to do' list has just gotten much, much longer. Things like modifying the wording in the emails the system sends out and really poring over the FAQ to simplify/edit the wording (yeah, I know I shoulda done those things from the get go, but who has the time?). And since people don't like to read, creating one minute flash tutorials on the basics.

Anyone else have any thoughts on how to make a XOOPS site more user friendly?

Everything is as it should be

Re: Book Review: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
  • 2006/1/20 14:11

  • Herko

  • XOOPS is my life!

  • Posts: 4238

  • Since: 2002/2/4 1

Hi Krystine,

Excellent book review, thanks very much I think that usability is an issue that has long been ignored and can really use some serious attention in this community.

In the redeign process we're running at this moment for this website, would you be willing to look at it from the usability perspective? I think that the xoops.org site should be something of an example on usability as well as theming, content structuring, navigation and services to the end-user.


Re: Book Review: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability

Sure I could help out... although I'm not exactly a usability expert -- believe me, I have my own issues to iron out So many issues.... but I digress.

Maybe some kind of informal group could be formed?

Just off the top of my head to give you a demonstration of what Krug is talking about...

1) 'Get the Latest XOOPS version - Download Now!" graphic at the top of the XOOPS homepage. You'd think you'd be prompted to download the latest software after clicking on it, but no, you're taken to the downloads page that lists all the versions, which is very daunting to new users. Which is the latest version? What should they click on next? The graphic should be linked directly to the download, not to all the XOOPS core downloads and patches.

2) The news topics blocks under Latest XOOPS News on the homepage -- you've got 4 blocks: Xoops, Modules, Themes, and YAXS. These titles/categories aren't all that descriptive... what would be more descriptive is changing the headings to XOOPS news, XOOPS modules, XOOPS themes and what the heck is YAXS? Something I do after a hard night of drinking? Maybe add (Yet Another XOOPS Site) after the YAXS.

3) The make a donation block in the right hand column. There's nothing on the home page that explains this is open source software or how people can donate/give back to the project. Instead of having a donation block, why not link to a page that explains the idea and spirit of open source, along with all the ways people contribute to open source projects (with the monetary donation info prominently displayed). Also might be a good idea to explain where these donated monies go... what they're used for, yadda yadda.

Yes, I know it is mind numbing (and frustrating) to think like a non-tech/non-web newbie, but that's who my audience is... and I imagine the majority of the sites built with XOOPS cater to that same audience. And yes, even though this site is geared to a more technical user, you know as well as I do that there are many people downloading this product and posting to the forums that are brand new to open source and CMSs.

Anyhoo, even though I am not an expert, I would be more than willing to donate my time to work with a group on these usability issues, not only on the design of the XOOPS website, but also the core processes.

Thanks again Herko :)
Everything is as it should be

Re: Book Review: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
  • 2014/2/4 4:21

  • Banjo111

  • Just popping in

  • Posts: 1

  • Since: 2014/2/4 2

Great review. Its so real - most people who use the internet and at the fist sign of a road block they start to freak and stress and start to click buttons in the hope that it will guide the, if only they just read what was in front of them and followed a few easy to read instructions.



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