On Don’t Make Think

I recently finished reading Don’t Make Me Think – A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability – by Steve Krug.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found to be insightful:

But when I’m looking at a page that makes me think, all the thought balloons over my head have question marks in them. When you’re creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks.

We don’t read pages. We scan them…We’re usually in a hurry…We know we don’t need to read everything…We’re good at it.

We don’t make optimal choices. We satisfice…We’re usually in a hurry…There’s not much of a penalty for guessing wrong…Weighing options may not improve our chances…Guessing is more fun.

there are five important things you can do to make sure they see—and understand—as much of your site as possible: Create a clear visual hierarchy on each page…Take advantage of conventions…Break pages up into clearly defined areas…Make it obvious what’s clickable…Minimize noise.

If the page is well designed, when your vision clears you should be able to answer these questions without hesitation: What site is this? (Site ID)…What page am I on? (Page name)…What are the major sections of this site? (Sections)…What are my options at this level? (Local navigation)…Where am I in the scheme of things? (“You are here” indicators)…How can I search?

The point is, it’s not productive to ask questions like “Do most people like pulldown menus?” The right kind of question to ask is “Does this pulldown, with these items and this wording in this context on this page create a good experience for most people who are likely to use this site?” And there’s really only one way to answer that kind of question: testing. You have to use the collective skill, experience, creativity, and common sense of the team to build some version of the thing (even a crude version), then watch ordinary people carefully as they try to figure out what it is and how to use it. There’s no substitute for it.

Things that diminish goodwill…Hiding information that I want…Punishing me for not doing things your way…Asking me for information you don’t really need…Shucking and jiving me…Putting sizzle in my way…Your site looks amateurish.

Things that increase goodwill…Know the main things that people want to do on your site and make them obvious and easy…Tell me what I want to know…Save me steps wherever you can…Put effort into it…now what questions I’m likely to have, and answer them…provide me with creature comforts like printer-friendly pages…Make it easy to recover from errors…When in doubt, apologize.

On a closing note:

But the things I’m talking- about here are generally very bad practices, and you shouldn’t be doing any of them unless (a) you really know what you’re doing. (b) you have a darned good reason, and (c) you actually are going to test it when you’re done to make sure you’ve managed to make it work; you’re not just going to intend to test it.

A highly recommended read in the areas of usability and user experience.



Out of the Crisis

I just finished reading Out of the Crisis by W. Edwards Deming.

Dr. Deming best summarizes the purpose of the book: “This book teaches the transformation that is required for survival, a transformation that can only be accomplished by man. A company can not buy its way into quality – it must be led into quality by top management. A theory of management now exists. Never again may anyone say that there is nothing new in management to teach.”

He then proceeds with outlining and subsequently detailing his “14 points for management”. These fourteen points, he argues, form the basis of the required transformation of the American industry:

1. Create constancy of purpose toward improvement of product and service, with the aim to become competitive and to stay in business, and to provide jobs.

2. Adopt the new philosophy. We are in a new economic age. Western management must awaken to the challenge, must learn their responsibilities, and take on leadership for change.

3. Cease dependence on inspection to achieve quality. Eliminate the need for inspection on a mass basis by building quality into the product in the first place.

4. End the practice of awarding business on the basis of price tag. Instead, minimize total cost. Move toward a single supplier for any one item, on a long-term relationship of loyalty and trust.

5. Improve constantly and forever the system of production and service, to improve quality and productivity, and thus constantly decrease costs.

6. Institute training on the job.

7. Institute leadership. The aim of supervision should be to help people and machines and gadgets to do a better job. Supervision of management is in need of overhaul, as well as supervision of production workers.

8. Drive out fear, so that everyone may work effectively for the company.

9. Break down barriers between departments. People in research, design, sales, and production must work as a team, to foresee problems of production and in use that may be encountered with the product or service.

10. Eliminate slogans, exhortations, and targets for the work force asking for zero defects and new levels of productivity. Such exhortations only create adversarial relationships, as the bulk of the causes of low quality and low productivity belong to the system and thus lie beyond the power of the work force.

11a. Eliminate work standards (quotas) on the factory floor. Substitute leadership.

11b. Eliminate management by objective. Eliminate management by numbers, numerical goals. Substitute leadership.

12a. Remove barriers that rob the hourly worker of his right to pride of workmanship. The responsibility of supervisors must be changed from sheer numbers to quality.

12b. Remove barriers that rob people in management and in engineering of their right to pride of workmanship. This means, inter alia, abolishment of the annual or merit rating of management by objective.

13. Institute a vigorous program of education and self-improvement.

14. Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.

While the book may seem dry at points, particularly if being read from cover to cover, it encompasses numerous gems in management. Particularly as it relates to the overall management of and leadership in quality and its importance to re-gain competitive edge.

Below are key excerpts from the book, that I found particularly insightful:

1- “This increase in production led to a new goal. The new goal will create questions and resentment among production workers. Their first thought is that the management is never satisfied. Whatever we do, they ask for more. Here are the fruits of exhortations: 1) Failure to accomplish the goal 2) Increase in variability 3) Increase in proportion defective 4) Increase in costs 5) Demoralization of the work force 6) Disrespect for the management”

2- “The job of management is to replace work standards by knowledgeable and intelligent leadership…Wherever work standards have been thrown out and replaced by leadership, quality and productivity have gone up substantially, and people are happier on the job.”

3- “Incidentally, computation of savings from use of a gadget (automation or robotic machinery) ought to take account of total cost, as an economist would define it. In my experience,  people are seldom able to come through with figures on total cost.”

4- “Quality must be measured by the interaction between three participants: (1) the product itself; (2) the user and how he uses the product, how he installs it, how he takes care of it, what he was led to expect; 3) instructions for use, training of customer and training of repairman, service provided for repairs, availability of parts. The top vertex of the triangle does not by itself determine quality.”

5- “There are two types of quality in any system, whether it be banking or manufacturing. The first is quality of design. These are the specific programs and procedures that promise to produce a saleable service or product: in other words, what the customer requires. The second type is quality of production, achievement of results with the quality promised. Quality control works both with the product and with the design of the product. And it is at this point that quality control begins to differ from the traditional system. To find the mistake is not enough. It is necessary to find the cause behind the mistake, and to build a system that minimizes future mistakes.”

6- “…Good agreement between independent results of two men would only mean they have a system. It would not mean they are both right. There is no right answer except by methods agreed upon by experts.”

7- “Figures on accidents do nothing to reduce the frequency of accidents. The first step in reduction of the frequency of accidents is to determine whether the cause of an accident belongs to the system or to some specific person or set of conditions. Statistical methods provide the only of analysis to serve as a guide to the understanding of accidents and to their reduction.”


Omar Halabieh

Out of the Crisis

Out of the Crisis