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Don't make me think

Updated: Mar 18

After years of being a lawyer I finally decided to veer off course and become a Full Stack Web Developer. Surprising only myself, I completed the 6 month course and entered a whole new world of creating technology.


I became a full stack web developer


The course was great and after I finished the course I theoretically could build fullscale front and back end web apps. I learned HTML and CSS, Bootstrap, Javascript, JQuery, Node, express, React and probably another ten I can't remember. I know what API and npm stand for and how to use them. But when I sat down to build my first non homework website I realized that in at least two areas my knowledge was sorely lacking - web design and usability. As a person who can easily exploit resources I went to my son and described my problem and looked to him for the simple answer.




I needed to up my design skills

Jordan has a degree in Cognitive Science and Masters in Human Computer Interaction. I asked him about website design and usability. Jordan has a different definition of "exploiting resources" than I do and he was happy to send me the title of a book that now holds a prominent place on my bedstand; Don't make me think by Steve Krug. This book is billed as a commonsense approach to web usability. Before waving goodbye as he headed back to University he did give me one piece of advice, he told me that if people are complaining that a website or app is "clunky" or "difficult" to navigate, it's the designer's fault, not the users. Given that fault was only going to lie with me I started on my journey to learn everything there was to know about Web Usability because I sure didn't want it to be my fault if my first web sites were clunky.


First Think I learned

I'm going to be doing a series of blogs based on the ideas in this and other design books but I wanted to take the space in this first blog to discuss what I learned on page 1 of the book - Don't make me think.

Now as someone who has spent her whole life thinking, this advice to not think got me thinking some more. Krug points out that there are many thinks on websites that can make us stop and think unnecessarily - poorly designed button names, non obvious links or disguised buttons, outdated information and a gambit of other issues. While, he says, these distractions might be slight, they all add up to frustration and to a feeling that the people who made the site did not know what they were doing. It shouldn't take ten clicks to find the address of the store you're looking at or another 3 to find the hours. You may be thinking that minor distractions are inevitable when surfing the web but as a website owner you will find that the competition is fierce, people may spend as little as three seconds on your site before clicking over to your competitors.


Throughout this series of blogs I will be happily explaining how not to think when traversing the web. Hopefully throughout this series of unfortunate mistakes we'll be able to take a 180 and find out in the process, what makes a good web design.


Key takeaways

  • Figure out what you know and what you need to learn

  • The Web is competitive and you may have as little as 3 seconds to grab someone's attention

  • And when you get someone's attention, "Don't make them think"

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