11: Usability as Common Courtesy

Krug acknowledges that he is stepping out of his area of expertise to talk about things that users find upsetting or offensive about their online experiences. A site can be entirely functional, and even easy to use, but there are other qualities he's noticed along the way that cause people to experience negative feelings about an online experience.

This is important from a business perspective, because a brand is built on its goodwill, and every negative incident diminishes the goodwill people have to the brand, hence their willingness to interact with it. When customers seem to get steamed by something simple, it is usually the cumulative effect of many "little" things that drives them away.

He uses the analogy of a reservoir to describe the positive emotions customers have toward a brand. People generally approach an unknown company with some level of positive expectations (if they did not. They would avoid unknown brands altogether) that is increased or decreased by their experience.

When their reservoir is filled, it runs over - they spread the news about the positive experiences they've had. When it falls below the "default" level they give to any unknown brand, they are open to the idea of doing business with someone else. When it is exhausted, they march away from you in disgust, and it will be difficult ever to win them back.

He shares a few specific qualities about goodwill:

Things that Diminish Goodwill

A list of some of the things he has observed to be detrimental:

Krug acknowledges that the last two are a balancing act: there's a sweet spot between being shabby and being too ostentatious which works well for users, gives them a sense of dealing with a professional and attentive firm, but not an arrogant and self-obsessed one.

Things that Increase Goodwill

A list of some of the things he has observed to be supportive: