Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Jakob Nielsen interview and the usability culture clash

Sitepoiint has published an interview with Jakob Nielsen.

It's an interesting interview as Sitepoint tends to be read mostly by freelance web designers and developers including many that run their own sites dependent on adwords and by reviewing the forums a lot of crappy little links sites with little regard for quality content. (Sitepoint itself however gives great coverage of the web development and design sector)

The comments on the article reflect this with many people dismissing Nielsen out of hand and rubbishing his opinions. For the guy who brought usability out to the masses, has written several successful books on the subject and most likely has made a good deal of cash from it all I find this somewhat strange if not plainly ridiculous.

I agree that sometimes his opinions are a little reactionary and negative (and on occasion worng) but the man is a researcher. His opinions are based on evidence he has collected. So he is mostly evidence driven apart from the occasional guru marketing that he gets caught up in.

The comments to the article raise a kind of 'culture clash' around usability. In my experience usability seems only to be discussed positively in medium to larger sized organisations while at a local developer/ designer level it seems to be considered something that gets in the way of 'creative control' and the designers/developer's usually well developed but brittle ego.

For those of us that have tried to promote and advocate usability and accessibility to designers and developers we know how hard it can be and without the research of people like Jakob Nielsen I think this task would be even harder.

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