Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think! A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability is to web design what Strunk & White's Elements of Style is to formal writing.
Here's a sample from Chapter Two, "How We REALLY Use the Web," that exemplifies the theme quite nicely:
When we're creating sites, we act as though people are going to pore over each page, reading our finely crafted text, figuring out how we've organized things, and weighing their options before deciding which link to click.
What they actually do most of the time (if we're lucky) is glance at each new page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their interest or vaguely resembles the thing they're looking for. There are usually large parts of the page that they don't even look at.
We're thinking "great literature" (or at least "product brochure"), while the user's reality is much closer to "billboard going by at 60 miles an hour."
After tearing through this book in about two hours, that last sentence is the one that sticks out the most. The implications of that statement, for an editor responsible for a site that attempts to publish and promote "great literature," are rather significant.
As we continue to see print publications rely more heavily on their online presences, the challenges of getting people to read longer features will become more relevant. Since necessity is (allegedly) the mother of invention, it would stand to reason that advances in technology (and the adaptations of future generations of web users) will make people more comfortable devoting the time to stop at a website, read some "great literature," and--as much as it might hurt--think.
This book is an essential tool in nudging that process along and, at the very least, helping people create smarter, more user-friendly websites.