Don’t Make Me Think!

I just finished reading “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug, which focuses on improving web usability. While this book discusses general web development/design, I saw a lot of lessons that could be applied to SharePoint, whether it’s for creating team sites or teaching users how to use SharePoint. Here are some key points I got out of the book:

  • People scan -> design pages for scanning, not reading
  • Use simple, easy words

Isn’t “Jobs” so much more easy to understand than “Employment Opportunities”?

  • Navigation and Search – the two ways people find info (so make sure they’re good!)
  • Minimal amount of words

This rule really applies to everything in life – essays, speeches, blogging, and yes, web sites. Krug suggests cutting at least half of the words. I think this rule really applies when people are writing instructions for say, filling out a new item in a sharepoint request list. People are not going to read paragraphs of instructions.

  • Use a good tag line and/or brief site description

If I go to any unfamiliar site, these are the first two things I look for – what does this site do and what can it do for me? Because if I can’t even figure out those two questions, I’m not going to even bother using the navigation or searching the site. Likewise, SharePoint site owners should include a brief description of their site for any newcomers.

  • Usability Testing

* Minimum 8 testers
* Watch as they test – recommend using a screen recorder to track them
* “Get it Testing” – show them the site and see if they understand the purpose, how it works, etc
* “Key Task Testing” – ask users to do something and see how well they do it

I know people scrimp on usability testing – I have. But it’s true – usability testing really works. Chances are what you think is obvious is not obvious to a new user. When I’m blogging about SharePoint features on our intranet, I try to have someone else look at my post first to make sure it makes sense. And when I’m writing out steps for a training, having another person test the steps really helps pin-point potentially confusing areas.

  • Usability as a common courtesy

Things that detract a user

* Hiding information that I want
* Punishing me for doing things my way

Make it obvious for users filling out an item in a SharePoint list what format you want the data in (ie. dashes in phone numbers, format of a person’s name as either their login or lastname/firstname)

* Putting sizzle in my way

Sometimes users want to put flash or large pictures on their home page to add pizzazz. Skip them – they increase the page load time.


Next on my list – The Design of Everyday Things!


One Response to Don’t Make Me Think!

  1. malla says:

    Nice article Jaclyn! I have worked a lot with this book too and with UX. But mostly on websites, and not Sharepoint. I am now trying to bring this to the Sharepoint sites too just like you.:) Good luck with your work and your blog, and please share your experiences if you do some more usabilitywork in Sharepoint! 🙂

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