Steve Krug, author, “Don’t Make Me Think”

Usability

  • The primary goal should be: Designing things that actual human beings can use for their intended purpose.
  • For Web sites, that means being able to easily find where valuable information is, then getting to it.
  • Everything should be as self-evident as possible … “don’t make me think.” People should be able to “just get it.”
  • Clarity trumps everything, but it’s not easy to achieve.
  • Be aware of the disparity between what we think people are doing and what they are really doing.

Web Text

  • We’re thinking “great literature” — they’re thinking “billboard going by at 60 m.p.h.”
  • “Delete half of the words on each page, then get rid of half of what’s left.”
  • Two types of unnecessary Web words
    • Instructions: No one reads them; boil them down.
    • Happy talk — throat clearing text — in mission statements on home page and inside front pages.
  • Just the facts, especially for the student population, more than the general population.
  • Make text scannable
    • Headings, bullet lists, highlighted key words, more short paragraphs.

Challenges in Higher Education

  • Higher Ed Web publishers are expected to deliver corporate services on a non-profit budget.
  • Stakeholders can be overly focused.
  • Every group wants its own “character.”
  • There are multiple audiences.
  • Many stakeholders demand space on the home page.
  • Deans are less likely to force everyone to toe the “consistent site” line than CEOs.
  • Cool-factor arms race to stay competitive.

Good News

  • Higher education is actually doing pretty well.
  • Standards are generally high.
  • Multiple audiences work in higher education.
  • Plenty of good models to learn from.

Suggestions

  • Navigation is still a major problem.
  • In a large information area (4+ levels deep), it’s crucial that people always know where they are.
  • Shoot for impeccable navigation: Make it easy to spot and approachable (less than 7 items).
  • Clear, unambiguous menu items.
  • Consistent across subsites.
  • Make “you-are-here” indicators clear.
  • Breadcrumbs are OK for a large, deep site, but not a necessity.

Tell Me Who You Are

  • Tell me in 20 words or less why this is a great place to go to school.
  • What is the unique selling proposition.
  • Where are you?
  • Tagline and welcome blurb.

So What’s The Solution?

  • Simple, iterative user testing.

Problems With User Testing

  • Too many participants.
  • Two-way mirrors.
  • Video taping.
  • Big final report.

Suggestions

  • Don’t use a lab or mirrors; do the test in a comfortable, natural place.
  • Get as many team members and stakeholders as possible to watch.
  • Use a screen capture utility [Camptasia, PC (JC: SnapzPro)] and make the tests available on your network.
  • Do it iteratively: Test, fix, test (wash, rinse, repeat).