Your website should read like a billboard!
This is one of the lessons I learned in Don’t Make Me Think Revisited: A Common-Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug.
This is the third edition of the book that launched Krug’s career as a highly sought-after usability consultant and speaker. There has been a change in technology since the 2011 publication date of the last edition. People now view websites on mobile devices as much (if not more) than they do on large computer screens. What hasn’t changed is how people navigate those websites.
SCANNED NOT READ
Krug says website visitors will spend mere seconds on your website before making important decisions about the product or service you offer, and whether your site has what they need.
And, just like billboards, people will not spend a great amount of time on your website reading. Text, he says, should be short and to the point. Long blocks of text should be broken up visually with sub-heads and bullet points. Your website will be scanned by the visitor rather than read.
I wasn’t surprised by any of the points Krug addressed in the book. I’d known about them for a while. I took a course on designing a website before I built my writer website. I’m convinced that what I learned came directly from Krug.
Krug addresses every aspect of designing a website for small and large businesses including commerce sites. The rules are pretty much the same for all of them. He stresses that design teams (or one-man bands such as myself) should conduct usability tests at every stage of the design. Krug even gives step-by-step usability testing instructions so an organization that is unable to afford a usability consultant can conduct their own usability test on a budget and get meaningful results.
When I built my website, I had it reviewed and a usability test conducted before the site went live. There were a few tweaks I had to make after the first test. I then had it tested again to see if the changes helped. Once it passed, I took the site live.
Just for fun, I thought I’d look at Krug’s own website, Advanced Common Sense, to see if he practiced what he preached. He did. All the elements were there:
- It was easily scanned.
- It had a clearly defined hierarchy.
- Everything was easy to find.
- The navigation buttons were clear.
- Navigation buttons were highlighted in blue when clicked so there was no mistaking what page I was on.
- Pages were clearly labeled.
- The logo led back to the home page.
It was pretty much like my website!
MY GO-TO TEXT
I found myself referring to my website a lot while reading Don’t Make Me Think to see where I could make changes and how I could make my site more user friendly. I discovered one major tweak I need to make: I need to prune my text.
I’m in the process of changing the design and focus of my website and I planned to refer to Don’t Make Me Think while I redesign the site.
I think anyone who has a website or designs one should read this book. It will help them create a website that their customers enjoy which can lead to more sales.