Tips from Steve Krug’s Don’t make me Think

Tips from Steve Krug’s Don’t make me Think

Don’t make me think, just give me what I expect.

- Soumya Diddi,
5th May 2018

How many times it happened to you that a user visits your website but bounces back in few seconds or he tries to buy a product but quits the website all of sudden?

What do you think made him to do that?
Well, there would be several reasons like bad quality home page or irrelevant ads or congested content or poor navigation etc. which frustrated him and ended his journey on your website.

So it is natural that you need a guidance to build your website with perfection and for that there are several books written by many professionals available on the internet and market but one of the all time famous web usability books is “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug.

In this book he explains the way a web user expects and do things on a website and some rules to design a good website interface with real time examples. Even though the first edition published in 2000 but due to some negative comments he updated the book and republished it in 2015 with the name “Don’t Make Me Think-Revisited.”

“Usability is about people and how they understand and use things, not technology”

So, here are few tips from the book:
  1. Don’t make me think (Steve Krug’s first law of usability)

    A website should be designed in a way that the user understands “what is it for” and “why is it for” without thinking. It should be self-explanatory with well designed clickable buttons and simple default search. If the user gets chance to think while on the website, then there are more chances that the results will drop from distinction to mediocrity.

    For example: A bad design and good design results like below:

    Steve Krug’s first law of usability

    Don’t make me think

    The website which is making the user to think seems like it lost a conversion when compared to the other it is important that you keep every page simple and concise for good outcome.

    “Making every page or screen self-evident is like having good lighting in a store, it just makes everything seem better”

  2. What the user really do

    The designers create a website, thinking that every part of it will be read by the users but in reality most of the users prefer scan to read and they just muddle through.

    “People glance a new page, scan some text and clicks the first link that grabs their interest.”

    The common reasons for this behaviour are we want the job to be done without wasting the time and we choose to read only the information that match our interests.

    what users do

    This is what happens in real time with the websites and people usually expect designers to built billboards rather than a highly textured website.

    “If your audience is going to act like you’re designing billboards then design great billboards.”

    As per the Steve Krug’s research and experience there are some important things to make the billboard (a website) enough effective that the user understands its possibilities and they are:

    * Use conventions
    One of the best ways to make the user to grasp important info of the website in hurry is wielding conventions.Few web conventions are logo placement (on the top left hand side of the page), clear naming, link styling and specific icons etc. which makes the user flow easy without frustrating him.

    * Create visual hierarchies that are effectual
    The appearance of a webpage plays a major role in engaging user even in hurry. So organizing and prioritizing the things depending on the importance threshold levels grabs the users attention. For example, The Boston Blobe newspaper.

    boston blobe newspaper

    As the paper have visual hierarchy in right means it will be easier for the reader to even take a look and grasp the information in hurry.
    Not only the above but breaking the page into clear sections, clear representation of clickable links and buttons, Reduction of noise i.e., getting rid of things that contribute less etc. will help you design a clear billboard, I mean an engaging website.

  3. Street signs and Breadcrumbs

    As it is the navigation which directs you to know the required information and makes you visit the website again and again it should be designed well. so,

    Avoid bad navigation design: The website navigation tells the user how to use the site and this plays a crucial role on the bouncing rates.
    When user is on website, he either looks around the site and clicks certain section or he could Just search for the item on the search box. Even though these are two different ways of approach it is worth if the job is done but what if he couldn’t complete his required task? Yes, it is obvious that he quits the site and you lost chance for conversion.
    “People won’t use your website if they can’t find their way around it”

    Here is an example from the book,

    information architecture

    So using the navigation conventions like site ID, Utilities, Search and sections etc helps in designing a good navigation for the website and keeps the user away from vexation.

    site layout

    Now comes the bread crumbs, Breadcrumbs is a word high lightened from Hansel and Gretel fairy tale in which two kids drop bread pieces on ground to reveal their location. Similarly, to showcase the user journey and to assure him that he is not lost, designing breadcrumbs is must.
    A breadcrumb looks like:

    site breadcrumb

    A well structured website breadcrumb should be displayed on top with “>” sign for step-wise journey indication and the last item must be bold.This assures the user and keeps him connected with the site.

  4. Make it easy to go to “home”

    A home page is where the audience expect for an overview of the site. So it must be designed well. Many designers in an urge of creating best home page adds every information and messes it up. A well designed homepage should answer the main questions of the user and it must look tidy.

    well designed homepage

    Even though many people land on different pages of site by clicking links on social media or other websites etc. it is the homepage that keeps them going ahead with the site. So a good tag-link, perfect spacing and welcome blurb etc. makes it reach user expectations.


As few tips are outdated, this book really helps you to find the best ways to design a website. Hence by following the above tips from Steve Krug you can build a good website and make profits without frustrating your customer.
With this I hope you would have got an overview of usability testing and all the peculiarities involved. I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Thanks for your time and feel free to add your comments below and let me know your thoughts about this article.

Soumya Diddi,

I am a writer, who lives in Hyderabad and working as a content writer for I am a B.Tech graduate from JNTUH. I love traveling and exploring new places and making new friends. In my free time enjoys hanging out with friends, playing badminton and spending time with my husband.

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