Log 5a: Reading Analysis

Work Being Analyzed: Chapter 2 and 3 of Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think.

Upon reading this work, the internet user in me screamed out “Exactly!!!” This is what I do, this is what everyone else does, and it’s about time someone put it down on paper. The designer in me got a little paler and couldn’t help but ask “Why bother?” and “What do I do now?” The deisgner in me also got  a little iffed that all of my work would go unnoticed.

What do I mean by that? Well, this article began by breaking the news that while designers assume that a person will throroughly go through and analyze a wep page, the person really scans over it, searching for the information the wanted to find, clicking any link that seemed reasonable to obtaining their goal, and rushed through the whole thing rather than appreciating the designer’s handiwork.It the Facts of Life that are now being told to designers.

The first Fact of Life is “We don’t read; we scan”

The reasons they give for scanning are as follows:

1. The user is usually in a hurry. In my experience, this is a fact. I don’t go to expedia.com or the NJ Transit Website just to browse. And looking up the information here takes less time than making a phone call, booking a travel agent or rushing to the bus or train station.
2. The user doesn’t need to read everything. I can see this. Scanning alone leads the user to the relevant parts.
3. The user is good at it. We’ve had experience scanning the newspaper and books to the parts we wanted. I understand that. I’ve also definitely had practice. I don’t think I’ve ever read a newspaper cover to cover, so to speak. I don’t think I’ve met many people who have either. And having used to get the paper everyday, my skills have been honed to work the same magic on the Internet.

Another thing brought up were the two things people focus on; words that match what they are trying to accomplish and words like “sale” “free” and “sex,” trigger words that we always see. As far as we’re concerned any other words are just jibberish and are only in our way.

The second Fact of Life is the act of “Satisfice” (the combination of satisfy and sacrifice.)

Without reading eveything all the way through, the user may not always pick the best choice, instead, in their hurried state, they pick the first reasonable choice they come across. A lo of the time, they’re right. Other times, the aren’t. However, it is only a computer so if you end up in the wrong place, the back button is there for a reason. I’ve used it more than enough times in my lifetime.

The last fact of life given is that we don’t figure things out, we muddle through them. The example they used were people putting URLs in the Yahoo search bar. It isn’t it’s original use, but people figure that if it works and it gets them where they want to be, it’s right in some way. At my home in New Jersey we have Comcast’s Internet. When you open your web browser, it takes you to Comcast’s homepage. On the top is a search bar much like Yahoo’s, and my mother will type any web address or search into that bar no matter what. I try and tell her otherwise, but she will only do it her way. It’s a lot like Norman’s theory on affordances. The search bar affords more things based on my Mom’s experiences.

Knowing how the mind thinks takes us to Chapter 3, and how we as designers can make this happen.

Since users are going quickly through your site, the important things to keep in your design are:
1. Creating a visible hierarchy. This is just like Norman’s theory of visibility, The more important things have to be more prominent and easily. The user will get more frustrated if they have to slow down and search for the links they need to find.
2. Taking advantage of conventions. While designers cringe at being conventional, in web design, it’s one thing that works. You can still create a website that is aesthetically pleasing with the same basic ground rules. As Norman says, a good designer has to be able to balance both aesthetics and usability. If one dominates, the other suffers. I’m glad this philosophy is out there because if shows how much more difficult our job is. We don’t just “make things pretty.”
3. Break pages into defined areas. This was related to grouping. I know I’d be confused (and annoyed) if two related links were on the opposite side of the site. It automatically makes usability suffer because I would have to take twice as long to find both links, and that’s just a waste of time that I or nobody else wants to deal with.
4. Make it obvious what’s clickable. Essentially this is feedback. The standard for online links is having a blue underlined text. That and having the finger pop up over a link instead of the arrow can be great feedback. My favorite form is the rollover. It’s immediately obvious and you don’t have to search hard. Just a brief hover of the mouse, and you can find any link on the site.
5. Minimize noise. Clutter is terrible in any circumstance. In rooms, websites, just about anywhere. It’s confusing and no one wants to deal with it.

This article was brief, simple, and effective in teaching designers what their focus should be in web design. It also subtlely references Norman, who we’ve been learning about since day one. As a student, it keeps tying everything together, so I feel like I am retaining a lot more of the information.

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