“Don’t make me think” in different contexts

Don’t make me think is the title of a book by Steve Krug on web usability, focused on the importance of doing things in a way that meet users’ expectations. It showed us how to put ourselves in the position of the person who uses our website or application.

The point is that the message “don’t make me think” is also relevant in other contexts: reporting, requirements negotiation, management, and of course in programming.

It is paramount that every application with a user interface have always present the message “don’t make think”: reports that display quantitative information, charts showing trends, real-time applications where quick decision making is vital,… the information must appear crystal-clear and simple.

Requirements and contract negotiation can be a hard process, but in order to built relationships that will last for a very long time, they must be based on trust, and a way to create trust is through clear documents that don’t make us think hidden purposes inside the negotiation.

Management is also the art of putting ourselves in the position of the other person. The priorities must be clear to everybody and we need a simple method to asses if the work has been accomplished in the correct way.

In regards to programming, the code should be easily read and understood with a minimum of effort required. If code requires too much thinking from an observer to understand, then it can probably stand to be simplified.

Summing-up: Life is much simpler than we think, and sometimes we complicate things too much. Don’t make me think and don’t make think the rest of the people your work or live with.

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