Jakob Nielsen

Usability Expert

Larry's World
17 minutes, 7.8mb, recorded 2005-08-25
Jakob Nielsen

We have come a long way since the web revolutionised access to information. Some of the principles of good web-design are fairly well known, but as we browse the web we see the same mistakes committed over and over again. Examples include freezing the font size, bad choice of colours for text and background (such as green text over black background) and playing audio on the homepage. Too many websites have gaudy flash animations and pictures on the homepage which do not convey any information but degrade the usability of the website.

To design a usable website, designers need to think how the user is going to use their website rather than present him with what they want him to see. Users will just glance through your page initially so it is necessary to have concise and meaningful headlines to attract the user's attention. All the in-depth information need not be cramped on a single page. The interested user will click on hyperlinks to get in-depth information about the news item. Pictures should be used only when necessary and there should be a balance between text and pictures on any webpage.

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Jakob Nielsen is a author, speaker and consultant on software and web-design usability. He earned a Ph.D. in user interface design and computer science from the Technical University of Denmark. Nielsen worked at Bellcore, IBM and as a senior researcher at computer company Sun Microsystems. In 1991, when the Web was new he correctly predicted that hypertext was the future of user interface design and jumped on the bandwagon by writing a comprehensive book about it. He updated his book in 1995 to take into account the success of the Web.

After his regular articles on his Web site about usability research attracted media attention, he subsequently co-founded usability consulting company Nielsen Norman Group with fellow usability expert Donald Norman. Nielsen is generally regarded as the leading authority on usability. He is noted for his criticisms of popular websites, pointing out how he feels many concentrate too heavily on gimmicky features such as animation, Flash, and graphics at the expense of usability, particularly for disabled visitors. Nielsen continues to write a fortnightly newsletter on web design matters and has published several books on the subject of web design.


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