The Design Dilemma: Usability: Leading Expert Jakob Nielsen on the Ways Web Sites Too Often Antagonize Their Users

By Oreskovic, Alexei | Newsweek, March 19, 2001 | Go to article overview

The Design Dilemma: Usability: Leading Expert Jakob Nielsen on the Ways Web Sites Too Often Antagonize Their Users


Oreskovic, Alexei, Newsweek


Jakob Nielsen probably doesn't like your Web site one bit. It wouldn't be surprising: Nielsen doesn't like most sites. For years the former Sun engineer has been crusading against bad Web design, using his biweekly "Alertbox" column at useit.com to lambaste self-indulgent, graphics-bloated sites. His most recent book, "Designing Web Usability," has a quarter of a million copies in print. We had a chance to catch up with the controversial Dane at his home in Mountain View, Calif., as he took a brief respite from a speaking tour that took him to 12 cities around the world. Excerpts:

ORESKOVIC: How's your usability tour going? What kind of questions are coming up?

NIELSEN: It used to be that the most frequently asked question I got was, "What size screen should I design for?" The answer to the question is "Whoever designs it should work on multiple sizes of screen." But now the questions are how to get management to pay more attention to the user data, because there's still a tendency for them to go by their own instincts. And the answer is... you're going to throw away two thirds of your business if you don't make it easy to use.

What are some of the most egregious things you've seen in Web design recently?

There's an annoying use of pop-up windows. Pop-ups are multiplying, and they're polluting my screen. People basically just kill them before they've even rendered, because they've seen them used so much in advertising.

Do you think Web sites should be 100 percent utilitarian, even at the expense of fashion?

Fashion should be there in terms of the content, not the design. If you follow fashion too much, you will change all the time, and you will continuously antagonize your users. Interactive design is interactive--people do things there. That's why big changes feel so uncomfortable to users. Whereas in a magazine, for example, people don't have to do anything; they just have to read. You can actually make dramatic changes in the layout of a magazine and people will immediately know how to use it.

But if every site looked like Yahoo, wouldn't the Web be a dull place?

They wouldn't all be like Yahoo unless they happened to be directory sites. If each service is trying to achieve different things, that lends itself to different designs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Design Dilemma: Usability: Leading Expert Jakob Nielsen on the Ways Web Sites Too Often Antagonize Their Users
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.