UX Book Review: Rocket Surgery Made Easy- Steve Krug (5 practical takeaways)

This series aims at quickly summarizing UX books you know of and some you may not have read. We will outline 5 main takeaways from each book, how long it takes to read the book and share balanced reviews on the book. Today’s UX book is Steve Krug’s Rocket Surgery Made Easy. If you find the insights valuable then you can consider buying the book and diving deeper into its material.

Rocket Surgery Made Easy, Steve KrugQuick summary

By paring the process of testing and fixing products down to its essentials (“A morning a month, that’s all we ask”), Rocket Surgery makes it realistic for teams to test early and often, catching problems while it’s still easy to fix them. Rocket Surgery Made Easy adds demonstration videos to the proven mix of clear writing, before-and-after examples, witty illustrations, and practical advice

Book Reading Time: 4.7 Hours
Amazon Rating: 4.5 / 5

About the author
Steve Krug spent 25+ years as a usability consultant for a wide variety of clients like Apple, Bloomberg, Lexus, NPR, and the International Monetary Fund. His consulting firm, Advanced Common Sense (“just me and a few well-placed mirrors”) is based in Chestnut Hill, MA.

5 Main takeaways from Rocket Surgery Made Easy

  1. Conduct Regular, Simple Usability Tests:
    Krug emphasizes the importance of frequent and straightforward usability testing. Instead of waiting for a polished product, start testing early and often. Aim to conduct at least one usability test per month to continuously gather insights and make iterative improvements.
  2. Involve the Whole Team:
    Engage team members from different disciplines in the usability testing process. This includes developers, product managers, and stakeholders. By involving the entire team, you can foster a shared understanding of user issues and encourage collaborative problem-solving.
  3. Recruit Users Who Reflect Your Target Audience:
    Select participants who match the characteristics of your actual users. Even small sample sizes can provide valuable insights if the participants accurately represent the target audience. Avoid over-complicating recruitment; friends, family, or colleagues can often serve as useful stand-ins.
  4. Focus on Observing Behavior, Not Gathering Opinions:
    During usability tests, prioritize observing what users do rather than what they say they would do. Watching users interact with your product can reveal usability problems that might not be apparent through feedback alone. Look for patterns in behavior that indicate common issues.
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  6. Make Testing and Reporting Simple:
    Keep the testing and reporting process straightforward to ensure it becomes a regular practice. Use a simple, repeatable process for conducting tests, and create concise, actionable reports that highlight key findings and recommendations. Focus on the most critical issues that can be addressed quickly.

Balanced Reviews on this book
“This is a very good practical guide to Usability and Usability Testing. A common sense approach that is a good read for anyone embarking on a web app project, in fact any app.
It is a non technical jargon free read that would suit the business owner / project manager / functional consultant that is about to get into any app development project no matter what size the project is.”

“I’m a really big fan of Steve’s book, “Don’t Make Me Think” so I was eager to read this follow-up. I felt that it was well put together, continuing to be written in the irreverent tone of the other book. However, really, the material in the book could have been put into a couple of youtube videos and that would have handled it. I’m not sure if I’m happy that the book was so easily digested during a single flight I took recently or upset that I paid as much as I did for such a small text. On balance, I guess I’m happy that Steve wrote things in such simple terms and I’m sure I’ll be rewarded for my meager investment of time and money with better websites versus someone who wrote fluff to fill a book.”

“Despite its confusing title, this book has a clear focus: Convince you of the benefits of simple usability tests (the kind where you sit down with a user and watch them perform some tasks), and walk you through that process with just enough detail to make you confident that you, too, can perform such tests without too much effort. The focus of this book is on finding usability problems; there isn’t much discussion of specific problems, just the advice to keep the fixes as simple as possible.”

“To put it in other words you will be disappointed if you think the book is related to the design of a website without the requirement of a user session (feed back session, user testing, etc…). The author’s previous book was well versed in this area, designing a website/store based on proven feedback from himself based on the good and bad designs of other sites. The current book, Rocket Surgery Made Easy, gives no indication that the whole task of the book is to easily create sessions for users and get immediate feedback. The book is great but make sure you understand that you are buying a book on how to get immediate feedback from the user and not get it using analytics, eyeball tracking software, click-through rates, or any other method of tracking a user’s feedback.”

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Calvin Pedzai

Analytical problem solver who enjoys crafting experiences and currently is the Senior UX designer at an awarding winning agency.