INKFISH PRINCIPLES: don’t make me think

Don’t make me think is an iconic book by Steve Krug and holds so many truths it is probably never going to date. The principle does not only apply to web development but also to signage, packaging, brochures, posters and basically any visual communication. It requires your being able to stand on the side of the unknowing receiver and experience your communication from their side.


‘Don’t make me think’ refers to the idea that when a website makes you stop and think about what you’re doing, and where to go, it’s making your life harder and maybe it’s not designed as well as it could be. This applies to signage on a building, reading a brochure, reading an email newsletter, this actually applies to any type of communication.

So what you have it understand and accept, is that your audience will only have as little time as a billboard, that they’re driving past on the highway. Or a guy flicking through TV channels, it’s literally a split second of information that people have to make up their minds. This is my explanation, my example of what you can see here as the billboard. It doesn’t necessarily say that much. And the first question you got to ask yourself is, what if somebody would drive past it or flick past it, or click past it and say, “does it matter to me?”. You need to give them the answer for why it matters to them. If they’re not the target market, then let it go. Not all traffic is your audience. But, if they have a sick dog or cat, they are your audience in this particular case.

Now, the next thing that really, really makes a big difference in user experience, and this is an any type of communication is to ask specific questions. If somebody comes to you and says, “What would you like to eat?”. Then, you have to think from scratch, what possibly you could eat. If somebody comes to you and says, “Would you like to have fish or chicken?”, it becomes a very easy, quick decision that you can make and you can just click through. Now, it doesn’t matter if you have to make a few more decisions. As long as the decisions are easy to make, and easy to go to the next step, it’s okay to create a user journey that has more levels. So we use the ‘Don’t make me think’ principle in as much of our communication that we do on behalf of our clients, which is both website but also brochures, etc.