After a 4-month break in which I was too busy getting ready for, delivering, and caring for our second child (Penelope Rose- November 16, 2009), I return!
I've had some pretty strange and interesting things go on in the meantime. The first of which that I will relay on to you will be some thoughts on the fantastic book "Don't Make Me Think" by the brilliant Steve Krug.
I used to think of usability like it was some horrible sea monster, constraining design and getting in the way of just plain moving forward. But then some space ray hit a neuron in my brain, and suddenly I was interested in usability. "Can you develop fast, beautifully, and usable? Is it all about plain blue underlined links, and Times New Roman, or is usability something else?"
My first stop was another excellent book, The Design of Everyday Things by Donald A. Norman. I started with this much heavier book when I saw it on Jeff Atwood's reading list; it's a more general book that covers design everywhere, whether industrial design, architecture, interface design... it was about the obvious dos and don'ts. I think that even though it was a heavier book, if I did it again I'd still start with it. It explains very well that usability isn't about killing desig- it's about making design accessible.
Then, one day when I was browsing around Barnes and Nobles (my wife in the children's section, me in the computer), I saw in big letters "Don't Make Me Think." Having recently finished helping redesign several key areas of our website, all because these specific areas were a little rocky to use, I was intrigued. So, I picked it up... and two hours later, the store started to close while I was leafing through mid-book, my Peppermint Mocha congealed and cold.
There are two key points to Don't Make Me Think that make it a joy to read: it's brevity and bluntness, and it's humor. It's less than 200 pages, and the entire book could be read in a 4-hour sitting; but the wealth of information contained within it will impact for a lifetime. I'll be posting more over the coming weeks pertaining to specific chapters and sections of the book. Yay Usability!