It S*cks To Be You
November 14, 2005
Steve Krug, author, “Don’t Make Me Think”
- 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.
- 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.
- Higher education is actually doing pretty well.
- Standards are generally high.
- Multiple audiences work in higher education.
- Plenty of good models to learn from.
- 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.
- 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).