[thelist] USABILITY ---> DO not confound with traditionalism.

Erik Mattheis gozz at gozz.com
Wed May 1 00:54:01 CDT 2002

At 11:51 PM +0100 4/30/02, John Handelaar wrote:
>For the thousandth bloody time, what Nielsen says
>is this:
>1.  If you want to try something unlike all other UIs, you'd
>     better test [*] it on people first to make sure they can
>     understand it.
>2.  If you can't afford to do 1, use stuff that people have
>     used before and which we already know they know how to use.
>[*]  For the benefit of the hard of thinking, I'm going to draw
>attention to that specific word, 'test'.  'Test'.  Comfortable?
>Good, we can move on.

#2 would fit in with the gist of his push, but actually, I'm quite
certain Nielsen himself would not be "comfortable" about "moving on"
after reading #1: the driving claim throughout his writing and
interviews is: that people have a hard time using computers and the
web as it is, so you have to design to a fixed set of rigid and
universal conventions.

His thoughts, in my words, as they echo in my head ...

... the web should be homogenous gruel which is only useful after
it's been digested ...
... presentation can only subtract from content when delivered over the web ...
... challenging your audience is always wrong if you're communicating
through the HTTP protocol ...

Some of us would rather let it go wild and see what the possibilities
are ... after all, the "back" button and "off" switch are perhaps the
most well understood computer UI elements, yes?

Nobody's arguing that testing is bad, and I don't recall anyone here
ever suggested that it's intrinsically wrong to follow the strategy
he presents if the situation warrants. The offense is taken when we
hear that the situation _never_ warrants otherwise ... well, at least
when people repeat it as if it came from an authority that was based
on anything but media play.

>When you were busy slagging the man off, did you ever take
>a moment to _read_ anything he's written?

Yes, as a matter of fact, I have read quite a bit of what he's
written and find it extremely entertaining ... maybe I'm sick, but I
do get enjoyment out of finding fault with his logic, if only because
I disagree with assumptions taken for granted by his usability cult.
regime. master race.

If you accept that the web should exist on a lowest common
denominator and it's not important for anyone to be able to enjoy the
web merely because it it is this amazing thing with seemingly
limitless possibilities, ol' Jake might be spot on ... I'll just
continue to be excited with the idea of pushing the limit. Maybe I
should just shut up and get busy pushing the limit.

At 2:06 AM +0200 5/1/02, Eike Pierstorff wrote:
>My guess is that you judge Nielsen by his alertbox column. That's just
>sales promotion. If you want the real, non-simplistic thing you'll have
>to spend some money on the usability reports he's doing. They are
>reasonably priced and worth their money.

So tens of thousands of well meaning web designers have been misled
by marketing dreck? I've wondered if the alertbox is just a big
sadistic joke ... bravo if this is the case ... it's so poor that you
deserve to get anything you swallow from it.

OK, ok, I should actually be pushing the envelope now ... sorry,
maybe I owe a tip.

- Erik Mattheis

(612) 377 2272


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