Tag Archive for 'book review'

Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability, by Steve Krug

SEL Books: TK5105.888 .K78 2000

I confess an interest in usability sparked by my previous experience as a technical writer. I developed print and online help for software, and I wanted to understand how best to organize help so that people can actually use it—can actually (gasp!) find what they need.

But, but, BUT! I want to emphasize that usability is relevant to everyone who creates anything—not just a Web page or a product, but also a sign, even an email. How are you going to ensure that people are going to see what they need to see. People skim email. How do you get them to focus on the important parts?

Usability books can help you to think about design in a different way, to flip around your viewpoint so that you think about how the user interacts with what you produce. Along with Donald Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things, I recommend Don’t Make Me Think to just about everyone, because they’re both directed toward the general public.

Krug’s book is a quick read. It is well-organized and broken up into small, easy-to-digest chunks. In other words, he applies his design ideas to his own book, thus providing not only good information but a good example to follow.

Don’t Make Me Think really does make me think, but in a good way.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, by Jonathan Safran Foer

Central: PS3606.O38 E98 2006

Every once in a while I read a book that I wish would not end. This is one of them.

Admittedly, I found the characters difficult to connect with at the start, though they immediately intrigued me. Both of the two main characters—an 11-year-old boy and an aged old man—are out of the ordinary. The narration passes back and forth between them, their stories paralleling for most of the book and finally connecting.

I developed a deep fondness for these two characters, who seem to be polar opposites—old and young, fearless and afraid, strong and delicate, mute and verbose.

The child, Oscar, still mourns his father’s death  some two years before in the World Trade Center attacks. He finds a key, and sets out on a quest to discover what it opens. He desperately hopes to find a pattern, an intention, a meaning that will bring some kind of sense to his suffering.

The old man is on a quest of his own, but revealing that would reveal too much. What I will say is that the book left me with a sweet, lingering sadness and a desire to appreciate every moment.