Simple Web Design – Usability is Key

I’m a big fan of the Steve Krug approach to web design.

His popular book – Don’t Make Me Think – espouses the view that web users do not want websites that make them think. He goes so far as to say that users will be actively turned off difficult websites, clicking away without a second thought.

Web design should take this into account, making the most of conventional features and functions that people already understand.

Conventions such as:

  • Links are blue, changing colour after you click them
  • A list of links runs down the left hand side of each page
  • The logo is also a clickable link to the home page

It seems obvious to me that web design should make website use as easy as possible.

Why challenge your users?

After years of web use I know that some web designers have other things in mind. Web designers may want to impress their peers with the latest technology, flashy graphics or unconventional layouts.

Sadly, ground-breaking formats and novel structures may mean a learning process for a user who doesn’t want to learn.

Make it Easy on Your User

Functional sites, designed with usability at the fore, can be beautiful in their simplicity.

Rather than forcing your users to struggle through something new, work with what web users already know.

Simple, Common Sense Copy

My approach to copywriting follows the ideas of Steve Krug. I want people to use the websites I work on and I want them to find them simple to understand.

The easier my copy is to read, the more likely your users will buy, register or understand the message.

(Thanks to Andy Budd of Clearleft for the book recommendation!)


  1. Leif – this is a fantastic post. I’m a big fan of simple website design, and push it on all my clients if I can. A fairly good example of this is a site that I knocked together a couple of years ago (quite badly) in a bit of a rush: – it has nothing but Kasia’s art, and was designed to make that speak. I think it does, as much as the iFrames are a bloody awful implementation of a half-decent idea. *g*

    Comment by Chris Billett — March 8, 2008 @ 8:19 pm

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