“YOUR WEBSITE SHOULD BE A MENSCH” – STEVE KRUG
Steve Krug delivered exactly what he claimed he would in Don’t Make Me Think. He warned that so much of what he said would seem obvious after we read it. And he was right. There was nothing in the book that didn’t immediately ring true to me and yet I must admit I had never thought of nearly any of it. The writer in me chastised myself for never thinking about the who, what, where, when, why and how questions in web design. Testing my own portfolio site after reading that particular passage was very enlightening.
Another aspect of the book that really stood out for me was the idea that all web users are unique and all web use is basically idiosyncratic. This also happened to come up in my Narrative Game Studio class this week — the idea that there is no such thing as an average player. And it is a concept I’ve spent my whole career fighting about in Hollywood. Many great writers have explained that the more specific the choices the author makes, the more universal the appeal of the story. And yet in Hollywood they try to remove everything specific about all of the characters to make them universally liked. I’m sorry to digress, but I do find it interesting that this concept of the “average user” or “average audience” is something executives have dreamed about in every field, but doesn’t seem to actual exist in any field.
Although maybe there is no such thing as an “average user”, most web problems do seem to affect a majority of visitors. I found it curious how much testing at every level is really required. I guess in my head there would be testing, but in many ways I imagined it was more of a user centered psychology to learn that could be applied consistently instead of a process that no matter how experienced a UX designer one becomes, would be required at every step. As a writer and filmmaker on one level I understand this. My work never reaches a finished point without testing on numerous readers or viewers. But over the years of doing this, I have learned to trust my gut with things. I have written and shot enough to have a good feel of what an audience will understand from my work. But I never, ever release anything to this day without testing it. I’m curious in time what that balance will be for UX design.
And my definition of user friendly before Steve Krug had not included people with disabilities. For whatever reason I think more of physicality like wheelchair access than I do about screen-based processes when I ponder inclusive design. Screen-based interfaces never fell into a category that needed insight into accessibility design for me before. I knew that sight impaired people would use text to speech applications, but the concept of an alt text for pictures was something that had never occurred to me. And there is still a little visual piece of me that is not one hundred percent sold by the idea that making it more accessible to everyone will make it more user friendly to those without disabilities. Certain visual design is just not the same when explained verbally.
To me though the most important concept was “your website should be a mensch.” Krug used it in terms of giving the user what they want. I feel that this could almost be used as the comic definition for all of UX design. If the user can easily understand how to interact with the website without having to think, find everything they want without much hassle and have a positive experience while doing it, the UX design has succeeded. I suspect this is a book that will be perused again by me on more than one occasion. It’s one thing to understand a concept intellectually, but quite another for this knowledge to become fully usable while in the middle of a new design.
UX DESIGN NOTES — Skills that jumped out at me from job listings:
TWENTY-FIVE CURRENT UX JOB LISTINGS:
THOUGHTS ON UX DESIGN THIS WEEK:
After reading the book and researching endless job postings, my curiosity about UX Design has only grown. I am interested in general in the psychology of people and this is the one theme that runs throughout the diverse field. There is a lot of cross industry skills different companies request and a large range of expectations from the positions. As the type of person who gets bored with doing the same thing over and over again, I find this rather refreshing. It also seems to span many skill sets from psychology to analytics, programming to design. This is enough to keep anyone who is interested in both creative and tech interested. I am definitely happy I took the class and intrigued about the prospects of UX Design.