Do make me think!

Mar 03, 2015 · 4 min read

Do make me think! -- Made In Helmikuu

15 years ago a book called Don't Make Me Think by Steve Krug became THE book about web usability and human-computer interaction. Its idea was to simply explain how good programs and websites are direct and easy to use. It was in the mandatory reading for all the web designers, from beginners to advanced ones as well as it was sold as the book to give to your boss for reading. The book became incredibly popular and the second, updated edition was published 2005, which I happen to own myself. The third edition seems to have been published last year. Krug is a usability professional and the book continues to be an excellent introduction to usability. Back when the first edition was published creating websites and even using many programs was still mostly in the hands of us nerds. Creating a website still required knowledge of at least HTML and CSS. In years to come things got easier. Now you can have a frequently updated online presence with dynamic content despite the fact that you think PHP is some sort of a sexually transmitted disease.

This is all great too. I cannot deny it. I too believe and trust that web sites and apps are to be easy to use. I don't want things to be difficult when they can be easy. Usability and accessibility are important parts of web and app design. As Krug wrote to the first chapter of his book (page 19 of the second edition):

"Using a site that doesn't make us think about unimportant things feels effortless, whereas puzzling over things that don't matter to us tends to sap our energy and enthusiasm—and time."

And then again I urge you to start thinking again. Since using web is so easy nowadays it grants you to express yourself, connect with all sorts of people everywhere, buy things which you cannot get from your local store and do many many other things to which you wouldn't have access otherwise. This has made you lazy and stupid. Sorry, but that's how it is. Because of it all being so easy you now fret every obstacle. You will have a spasm if you have to read the terms, you will cry for having to pay, you will get confused and panic for all the times you must think. Every time Facebook makes a little change to their user interface you will moan and complain. You comment and share without reading that thing you are commenting and sharing. When I was running a website for listing the beauty professionals of Finland it became more than clear that most people weren't interested in reading the instructions. It didn't matter how long or short the instructions were nor where they were located. It didn't even matter if they received the instructions personified just for them. When we run giveaways with asking visitors to respond to a simple question it was clear they sometimes didn't read the question before writing their response.

It's not only because of ease of use which makes you crash around web like a mindless idiot. There are many other things involved in it. Perhaps you were having concentration problems to begin with or you think you don't have time for stopping to think, since you are such a busy and important person. Then again there's this thing were web has became a game of social (media) points. You gain those points by sharing as many links as you can, commenting as much as you can, following and liking like a fool and of course by gaining these shares, comments, follows and likes. You are dwelled with analytics and scores which tell you in plain numbers how well you are doing and what a social success you are. More into the stats you get the less you will stop to think. You are hooked to the game, thinking would sap your energy and enthusiasm. You aren't alone, that person next to you is doing it too. I am, and so is the guy who looks down to you and says: "I always read what I..." They don't.

Not thinking is what's causing the trouble. It is a way to trolling, becoming a victim of phishing and other scams and getting yourself into all sorts of other mess. You don't want to think thus you are using that same easy to guess password on every social media platform and other service. It's making you lazy and stupid, an easy mark and a troll. While usability is there to aid you, you have became like that person who can walk just fine, but still rather rides a motorised wheelchair everywhere. It's not the fault of the motorised wheelchair and they have a very good reason to exist. It's your own fault. You have let yourself become numb, you have took the easy way out and justified it to yourself by having to be quick and efficient. Luckily you aren't a lost cause. In the online world where everything is given to you ready and made you can do one thing to stop being a lazy idiot: Make yourself think.


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