Eric Miller on Sun, 2 Dec 2001 00:02:39 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Danny Yee: Review of Homepage Usability

hi all,

Nielsen's "populist" design philosophy makes some sense for those who need
to design for the widest possible audience.  designers who have been
immersed in the Web for years tend to forget the typical skill level of
the average occasional Internet surfer.  (example: as a rule, very few
casual surfers know that the logo in the top-left of most sites is a
shortcut to the site home page.  see

But the biggest caveat I'd mention is that Nielsen doesn't often take into
account that designers AND users alike are still learning this very
complex new medium.  if we simplify the user interface to the point where
my Uncle Louie is able to able to navigate the most complex sites, we're
discarding 90% of the potential power of the medium.  Nielsen would start
hemorrhaging self-righteous vitriol if he critiqued the work of Second
Story ( ) but the user interfaces that they
create _ARE_ indicative of the medium's future.  Strategies based on
print-centric understandings of the medium are a necessary intermediate

Simplicity and universality where needed.  innovation and experimentation
to push us forward.  the two don't need to be mutually exclusive.

So I tend to think of Nielsen as someone who is pointing out some very
valid current criticisms, but a few years of increasing use of the
Internet will make his pontifications irrelevant.  If folks are interested
in global design principles unfettered by the current state of user
ability, I'd suggest reading Edward Tufte.


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