Don’t make me think who your product is for

Perhaps the best guide to web usability ever written, Don’t Make Me Think is a must read if you build anything that anyone anywhere ever has to interact with. Since its original publication in 2000, Krug’s book has been adopted as the holy word by user experience designers. The premises are surprisingly simple — for instance, you obviously don’t want to make your users have to think about how to interact with your software. But they can be applied at differing levels of difficulty. I was introduced to this book by experts who still keep it on their bookshelves, when I was just beginning to think about user experience.

It’s a very short read — even the second edition, with its three extra chapters, is easy to get through. Don’t Make Me Think is designed to be a very user-friendly book. It’s worth reading all the way through, at least once, but it’s a book that’s meant to be used, even more than it’s meant to be read. When you’re working on a large project, Krug’s book can act as a checklist that you should follow to turn out the best possible product.

Development: Why does HTML think “chucknorris” is a color?
If you set the background color of a document to “chucknorris” in HTML, the result is a red background. There are plenty of other strings that also produce color, but clearly, Chuck Norris takes precedence.

Funding: Is app-era pricing making software better, or worse?
There are days when app pricing seems like a race to the bottom: when mobile apps are priced at 99 cents, it’s hard go much lower. But considering the cost of creating new features for apps, it seems like the expense of adding a new feature must be more than the value a developer will earn back — which begs the question of whether this pricing model makes for better or worse software?

Operations: Are you out of sync with your values?
Building a company requires building a culture, preferably one that matches up with exactly what you care about. This article from Michael Bungay Stanier discusses what values make sense with your company culture.

Marketing: Better for whom?
Jason Cohen’s most recent post will make you look at the products you build with new eyes. If you’ve ever looked at what already exists in the market and you’ve decided that you can do better, Cohen’s question is crucial. Just who are you building a better product for?

Beyond Tech: And read all over
Jamelle Bouie’s article first appeared in The Magazine, but since its publication there and on Bouie’s site, it’s gotten a lot of attention. Bouie points out the lack of diversity in tech writing, pointing to the very real issues of having access to the networks that help people find jobs in this area, as well as education and other trends that should be addressed. The article has sparked extensive discussion, as well as disagreements from a lot of tech bloggers. Personally, I find the article hard to disagree with.

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