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Don't Make Me Think, Revisited
A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
- Read in 16 minutes
- Audio & text available
- Contains 10 key ideas
Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited (2014) describes the basic principles governing behavior online and explains how you can build a website that delivers a great user experience. Also included is a simple guide to help you test a website at each stage of its development.
Key idea 1 of 10
Instead of learning how a system works, we prefer to play and figure things out on our own.
Did you read the user manual to a technology gadget you purchased recently? Probably not.
Unless you happen to be an engineer, most people simply don’t care about how stuff works.
Imagine asking a random person on the street to explain how a browser or search engine operates. Although most people lack even the most basic knowledge about the mechanics of the internet, they can still navigate websites without much problem.
So when you buy a new device, often you just play around with it instead of reading the directions that explain how to use it. And then, when you find a method of operation that works for you, you stick to it.
You may have seen this behavior firsthand, for instance when someone searches for a complete website URL instead of using the browser’s URL bar to go directly to the desired website.
This is an example of a common decision-making strategy called satisficing. Given a problem, you’d think that a human would rationally search for information, identify solutions, compare them and then choose the best one. But in fact, satisficing is a more typical approach.
A study showed, for instance, that firefighters simply do a quick check for errors and then proceed with the first available solution. And these are people operating in high-pressure, high-risk situations!
In contrast, your average web surfer just needs to click the “back” button on a browser if she makes a mistake and clicks on an incorrect link. In general, we make decisions quickly as we surf online. Not only because it’s easier, but also because figuring things out independently feels like a game – it’s more fun!
In other words, our default internet behavior is to click on the first thing that catches our attention. And when this gets us what we want, we feel smart, comfortable and more confident.