During a recent long-weekend trip with my family I finally got around to reading the second edition of Steve Krug’s book Don’t make me think – A common sense approach to web usability. Being a developer who does a fair share of front end web development during a normal work day I think it’s only good and proper to learn more about the softer side of web site development, such as graphical design, interaction design and information architecture. I don’t normally work in these areas on a daily basis, but will usually have to communicate with someone who does – for at least a small part of a project. It has become more common in the latter years.
As the title says this book is about web usability. Before reading the book I felt I knew a lot about the subject and this is not the first book I have read on web usability. However, this is one of the better reads. It’s a pretty quick and fun read – around 200 pages with a nice user-friendly layout. I found Chapter 9 on practical usability testing to be very useful and something I may try to practice if I get the chance. If you have the interest and need a quick primer then this could be the book for you!
The second edition was written in 2005 and much has happened since – especially on the web. One of the book’s final chapters regarding CSS and accessibility might be considered irrelevant today, meaning that CSS is now the norm for web design (or should be). Developers know that HTML tables should not be used for controlling layout and support for CSS is now well in place in most of today’s browsers. Of course there is still the odd bunch of developers who are too lazy to separate their content from the design – or just don’t know any better. It is debatable how far we have come regarding accessibility. This is still a “work in progress” for all but the major sites on today’s Internet.
Being published in 2005, the book does not mention web 2.0 or AJAX technologies. However, I don’t feel the book is missing much. I guess common sense in 2010 is still pretty much the same as it was in 2005 and this book does a good job of explaining the basics of good web usability. It still applies today.
I noticed the author published a book in late 2009 called Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-it-yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems. Given how well I liked Don’t make me think, I think this book may soon find its way to my bookshelf. You can find more information and free chapters on both books at the author’s own site.