Don’t make me think Chaps 1-5

Krug’s book is about web page and site design. That is, the design of the space in which we read texts.

As a result, many of the recommendations Krug makes about IA is applied to content. They shouldn’t be, but they are. The principles of web design he advocates get applied to content, placement, formatting, etc.

Book is comprised of short chaps, illustrated structured as a dialogue, so fast. But a large collection of terminology to define and consider. The speed is deceptive to the meaning. Rather than slow readers down to think, Krug speeds up the prose and page turning - which sidesteps thinking through.

In class, we’ll look for pages that illustrate the terms.

Chap 1

This chapter reduces to Make things self evident and self explanatory.

But what are the things? Ideas? Movement? Buying something?

cute or clever names, marketing-induced names, company-specific names, and unfamiliar technical names.

Navigation affordances

Things that distract from user defining and pursuing the task at hand
Here’s the rule: If you can’t make something self-evident, you at least need to make it self-explanatory.

What does that mean?

Just makes things better.

Chap 2

Generalized statements cast as Facts of Life

That Klug is seeing these facts in his observations is priming or framing. Recall scavengers v predators.

Chap 3

Design for muddle.


1 Take advantage of conventions. Where things are, what they look like, how they work... and within genre: terms and demands. Considers, wrongly, that this conflicts w innovation. Places innovation and aesthetics against convention. Consistency (of design? Of Function? Or genre?) is good and trumps clarity.

Recall: we’re designing for the non-thinking. Problem is that Conventions are assumed to be already learned, but they aren’t. What are the conventions of the business memo? What are the conventions of the email? Whose conventions in what circumstances?

2 Create effective visual hierarchies. Clarify this with examples of visual hierarches. Salience. Gestalt. 
A good visual hierarchy saves us work by preprocessing the page for us, organizing and prioritizing its contents in a way that we can grasp almost instantly.

Emphasis is on speed and work rather than meaning.
if everything looks equally important, for instance—we’re reduced to the much slower process of scanning the page for revealing words and phrases and then trying to form our own sense of what’s important and how things are organized. It’s a lot more work.

In Krug's example, the hierarchy is still unclear.

Exercise: Think of situation where you don’t want a pre-established hierarchy. Where that would hinder rather than help.

3 Break pages up into clearly defined areas Not a lot mentioned on this. Examples?

4 Make it obvious what’s clickable  Affordances Pity that Krug goes clever than explaining what he means about doors. What’s clickable is indicated by color, rollover, icon, index ....

5 Eliminate distractions. Noise. Shouting - etc all boil down to visual hierarchy and design aesthetics - use of space.

When are distractions not distractions but content? The line is not clear.

Consider complex Renaissance painting for how vis hierarchies and placement and other elements of salience play in. Rubens, school of Athens.


Format content to support scanning. Use heads. Keep paras short. Use lists. Highlight key terms.

Consider what this means for long form writing. Except - the scanning he’s on about is to locate a specific point.

Exercise: Make an extract from Faulkner scannable. Discuss what’s changed in meaning.

When the shadow of the sash appeared on the curtains it was between seven and eight o' clock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather's and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it's rather excruciatingly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father's. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it. Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an illusion of philosophers and fools.

We can look at a few sites to see if this is done and in what circumstances it matters.

Chap 4: mindless choices

Calls them Laws but offers no evidence that they are anything but assumptions. Bad move by a designer.

Idea is to make links clear - meaning what? Clarity of target? Clarity of connection? In cases of access of some content, clarity might work - for those who already know.

as his examples illustrate

Better examples: Labeling in stores like Target. It’s a navigation issue not a choice issue.

Where is the coffee filters? Where is the cheese cloth?

chap 5: omit needless words


Carefully moderates his rule here. Gives two examples - and no real advice on HOW to do this.

He side steps the real implications:
His advice seems to ignore the rhetorical situation of the writing, too. Happy talk is to sell stuff. Instructions are contrived, often, to Be Clear, and are just poorly written. But they also are used to put people off, or written in a situation in which impressing the secondary audience is important.

Example: memo or note from an administrator being administrative.

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