I was in the gym this morning when I noticed someone had a copy of Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug. This book came out in 2000 and was the first book I read about usability. It was an excellent grounding because everything Krug talked about in the book is still relevant today. I would highly recommend reading the book for yourself.
The first chapter: Don’t Make Me think! Krug’s first law of usability is THE most important question to consider when evaluating a site. If you really want to measure how effective your site is as a marketing tool try this simple test:
Randomly find a website that you have never seen and don’t have an idea what they do (you will have to avoid big name brands or using obvious serach terms in google) try using stumble or digg and click on a random link.
When you land on the home page how long does it take you to understand:
- what the site is about?
- What the site sells?
- What is the main call to action on the page?
- What is the sites barnd name?
A good site should be immediately obvious and answer all of the above questions. You should ‘get it’ without having to think about it. And you should be able to get it straight away.
Whilst looking at a well designed page you will have thoughts such as:
- These are todays special offers here
- This looks like the product categories here
- There is what I am looking for: vitamin c tablets and click/sale…
A page that is obstructive and making me think would have thoughts more like this:
- Wow a lot of information all going on here, where do I start?
- Is this the navigation here or is that the navigation?
- What is Bob’s Big Shopping Box? Is that the basket?
- Is that a clickable link?
- Where are the vitamins?
And… I’ve had enough and I click off confused and straight onto a competitor ready to spend my cash (and yes there are always a lot of other competitors lurking ready to grab your customers cash).
A few tips to make a home page not make you think…
Have a concise elevator pitch about the company/site at the top of the page.
- Don’t use industry jargon
- Don’t rename standard features (search, basket etc) as amusing names like shopping sled
- Make buttons or links look like clickable buttons and links, use underlines and dropshadows – cliched yes, but for a reason
To sum up, always keep in mind: how can I eliminate question marks on my site?