Simplicity on the web

I’m a simple kinda gal. Everything I like–from recipes, to room décor, to music–is simple and easy. That’s why I like Marjorie. She never used complicated elements such as irony or symbols in her writing. She was straightforward and yet still very powerful and artistic.

However, I’m also a busy gal. At any given moment, I have about five million thoughts going through my head. Therefore, when it comes to fulfilling my needs, I don’t like to think too hard about doing so. This is why Steven Krug and I would get along nicely. Krug authored Don’t Make Me Think, a book that teaches Internet usability and efficiency. As someone who both uses the Internet and is new to website building, I found his insight into website usability extremely, well, usable.

Krug is straightforward and efficient in his writing, practicing what he preaches about simplicity in a website.

“It doesn’t matter to us whether we understand how things work, as long as we can use them. It’s not for lack of intelligence, but for lack of caring.”

Instant gratification. That is what we want from the Internet. Whether we are online shopping, creeping up on our friends on Facebook, looking for a service… we don’t want to have to think too hard to satisfy those needs. Which brings me to, in my opinion, the most important concept in this book: satisficing. That is, people want results that fulfill what they need in a hassle-free way. You don’t have to weigh your options, you don’t have to think. You just click. If you’re on a specific company’s website to search for job openings, you click the “Jobs” tab. Not something like “be a part of our team,” or “job-o-rama.”

Krug argues that in order to achieve satisficing, website creators must compromise, suck it up, and realize they operate like a billboard. No time for excess information or excess steps–people are moving across your page quickly. So, think about easy navigation, such as leaving “breadcrumbs,” so that users know where they came from and how they got to the current page (something I think UF website developers can use from). Shhh… don’t them I said that!

He notes obvious things, such as the fact that first impressions are everything. (Complicated home screens= yuck!) But, he also made me think (hah!) about ideas I’d never considered before, like keeping a website consistent. This can be as simple as maintaining a global navigation bar at the top of each page, and also keeping up with a consistent look. We’re trying NOT to think here! Don’t switch things up on us.

The one thing I may have trouble with is cutting down on my words. Kruger suggests each web writer to do so by half… and then some. Like Marjorie, I’ve always struggled with superfluous writing.

If only I had a novel, and not a webpage, to fill.

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