geert lovink on Sun, 2 Dec 2001 04:56:15 +0100 (CET)

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

I received two other responses to my Nielsen rave. I would like to quote
them. One is from Alan Sondheim, the other from Steve Cisler.

From: "Alan Sondheim" <>

I haven't seen the book, but I do teach new media here and the stuff we
look at is at times so misshapen as to be close to useless, pure noise.
Innovation I'd welcome of any sort, and I don't expect a site to
be anything but relatively difficult/obscure, but if I'm looking for a
product or product information - say, buying a computer - the faster I can
get there, the better. Too often there are portal pages, popups fore- or
background now, etc. - clutter that speaks more of a misplaced desperation
to hold the consumer through one or more hooks. That kind of stuff brought
down a lot of the search engines, while google keeps running. -



From: "cisler" <>


You said:

> Is it right to question Nielson's constructive
> proposals (aimed at increasing shareholder value)?

Nielsen is someone whose critiques have made sense to me for years, mainly
because so many web designers from 93 onward worked in an environment so
different from most users. they had big monitors, fast connections, and were
little regard for the limitations of their audience(s).  Nielsen admits his
own bias towards the use of text in a judicious way, and so he has been very
interested in readability.  I know from my own overuse of screen-based
material that I now read books differently. Other people do too, and they
read online differently.  I think that will have an enormous impact on the
output of average folks and those who spend more time thinking and writing
(as you certainly do).

Librarians should need some of his advice, as much as graphic artists
should, because most of us don't realize the limitation of low-rez screen
bound text.  Library sites are usually low in graphic content but not well
designed (I'm guilty of that on my own web page).

What I'm saying is that Nielsen may have corporate clients who pay him a ton
of money and he wants to give them good advice, but I do think he keeps the
average user in mind. So it's more than shareholder value. Given the nature
of connectivity and the diversity of users now (even with just 6% of the
world logging on) it may be hard to say there are 'average users' .

I don't know the word 'portification.'  Is that a Dutch concept?

Neilsen is or was partners with Don Norman who was my boss at Apple for
several years.  They teamed up after finding no comfortable places in
corporate hi tech. Nielsen left Sun and Norman left Apple then HP.



To answer Steve's question. I made up the word on the spot. It is not a
Dutch word. It is meant to be mixure of portalization and fortification, one
could also say aolification but that sound horrible. If it doesn't work in
English, well, never mind. Geert

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