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

Paul Cowan paul at wishlist.com.au
Wed May 1 01:24:00 CDT 2002

Erik wrote, re: Nielsen:
> 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.

I've pointed this out before, but I'll point it out again. He speaks from a
USABILITY point of view. He's not a designer; he's not a marketing guy; he's
not a sales guy or a psychologist ... his advice is for usability purposes.
Your need for that will vary.

> ... the web should be homogenous gruel which is only useful after
> it's been digested ...
... for maximum usability. For marketing, aesthetic, or other purposes,
other factors might come into play.

> ... presentation can only subtract from content when
> delivered over the web ...
... for maximum usability. For marketing, aesthetic, or other purposes,
other factors might come into play.

> ... challenging your audience is always wrong if you're communicating
> through the HTTP protocol ...
... for maximum usability. For marke... um, you get the idea.

At the risk of recycling my own material, here's an extract from an email I
sent to this very list on the topic. I can't be bothered rewriting my own
thoughts for originality's sake, so I'll just quote myself.:

For some reason, when dealing with Jake, people seem to think that he should
acknowledge that "it's good for building brand among mtv-kids" or "It's good
for displaying vector-based images" (to pick 2 arguments at random from this
debate). Yeah, it might be. That doesn't mean that that it doesn't suck from
a usability point of view. Choosing a navigation mechanism (or whatever) is
based on a lot of factors:
	Suitability  = (a x simplicity) + (b x usability) +
	(c x attractiveness) + (d x branding) + (e x accessibility) +
	(f x download time) + ...

a, b, c, d, e, f... all need to be filled in on a per-project basis. For
some projects, "d" might be the highest number; for others, "d" will be 0.
Depending on your target market, "f" might be 100 or it might be 0. All
Nielsen does is to help you increase the "usability" score. If your
weighting for "b" is very low, he won't help you -- and don't expect him to
agree with you. The weight you place on his arguments is tied to the number
attached to "b".

Anyway, there you are. Don't expect your engineer to tell you what colour
your bridge should be, or your interior decorator to recommend an air

Time for a:

<tip type="ASP Code Legibility" author="Paul Cowan">
It's amazing how many people write VBScript code with:
	response.write <...> & chr(10)
(or chr(13), or both) everywhere. There is a constant in VB called vbCRLF
(or vbCR, or vbLF, depending on your needs). Use it -- it makes life a lot
easier for the next poor sucker to look at your code.


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