OLL Nielsen & Flanders

On Wednesday morning, I dragged myself out of bed to listen to Vince Flanders and Jakob Nielsen critique webpages in what was falsely billed as "USABILITY WRESTLEMANIA."

Vince is author of Web Pages That Suck and a very funny fellow. (When Gloria met Vince and said, “Hi!”, Vince replied “Not since 1970.”) Jakob is a useability guru whose own site is visually dull because he refuses to use graphics.

Jakob and Vince gave two-minute reviews of websites. Live. We start with the California Department of Motor Vehicles. Confusing. Activities and information buttons intermingled.

U.S. Airways. Let’s make a reservation. Unlike the DMV, you can tell where you are. Reservation is up front while most people would want to do research first. Which Hartford airport? The page would not work for the visually impaired, because the “Continue” button would have dropped off the right side of the screen. One of the Hartford choices is a private airport that U.S. Air does not fly to.

What are the three worst things designers do? Vince:

    1. You gotta know your target audience. You should be able to figure out what someone is doing within four seconds. The Suttleworth site addresses the needs of the designer, not the reader.
    2. Inappropriate use of technology. See webpagesthatsuck.com.
    3. Poor navigation.

Vince’s best things people do.

    1. Target audience. You’re all going to die! Buy life insurance.
    2. International Herald Trib site. Select font size, one or three columns. An amazing tour de force. (Glish.com enables you to change font face.)
    3. appropriate tech. slide a frog.

Jakob pointed out these web sins:

    1. No prices. Not providing information people need to know.
    2. Big blocks of text.
    3. Inflexible search. Needs prioritization.

Jakob’s “what people do well”

    1. Search boxes are more prevalent
    2. Fewer gratuitous, bandwidth-hogging images
    3. Real-time update inventories, “Only two copies left”

Too bad Vince and Jakob wouldn't wrestle or even argue. (Their websites praise one another.) Vince at least showed up with garish wrestling garb. I had hoped they'd dig into some eLearning pages, but I guess that's a bit much to hope for when the vendors in the Expo are footing part of the bill. Can't bite the hand that feeds and all that.

Related links on web design

Design Not Found

Bad Designs

Interface Hall of Shame

Usable Web

Posted by Jay Cross at September 27, 2002 09:14 PM | TrackBack

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