[thelist] Drop-down menu items

martin.p.burns at uk.pwcglobal.com martin.p.burns at uk.pwcglobal.com
Wed Jan 10 06:06:26 CST 2001

Memo from Martin P Burns of PricewaterhouseCoopers

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I think you're right in that the site you build has to match the goals
of your client.

Of course, if your site has narrative goals of discovery and mystery
then you might want to try hiding things, like http://www.hell.com

However, I think you're misreading Jakob. You seem to be thinking
he's saying "make every site dull", and he's not.

What he's actually saying is "test the site with real members of the
audience, and do everything you can to help them to do the things
they would visit the site to do. If you can't do some testing, here are
some heuristics which will help in pretty much every case".

These should be the *default* heuristics - of course you can deviate
from them if you have justification (on a case-by-case basis) for doing
so. Far too often, I see up-their-own-ass creative 'designers' who do
it the other way round. Remember - design is about consciously deciding
every aspect of the thing you are creating, not just the fluffy veneer.
How it works is part of that process.

Actually, even he doesn't expect every site to follow every one of his
suggestions - he reckons a *good* site would follow about 70%-80%.


<tip type="solving the extra para leading issue">
If you find that the last line of your para has a different leading than the
rest, check to see if you've done something like:

   <span class="different_leading">
        blah blah blah

GoLive users seem to be particularly guilty of this. To solve, try

<p class="different_leading">
         blah blah blah

then the class will end at the end of the block, not just before it.

Please respond to thelist at lists.evolt.org
To:   "'thelist at lists.evolt.org'" <thelist at lists.evolt.org>

Subject:  RE: [thelist] Drop-down menu items

hi y'all,
okay, with the aforementioned gauntlet thrown down, here's why I don't kneel
at the altar of Nielsen, and I question the wisdom of doing so for every

The Web is more than a reference tool.  It is a communication tool, like
radio, TV, magazines, posters, theater...and as such, a rigid methodology
such as Nielsen's isn't always appropriate for every site on the net.

Doing an international corporate site with tons of information and a mandate
to be easy-to-use, ADA-compliant, and web-standards-compliant?  Then follow
a strict strategy for usability and accessibility, cut the gizmos, and focus
on structuring and presenting your content in the most effective way
possible.  Like Nielsen.

Building a site for a local performance art troupe?  Give them style.  Give
them motion.  Give them a site that reflects who they are and extends their
work onto the Web.  Use the tools available to you to create something that
becomes another piece of their work, and isn't cursed with the sexual
magnetism of a telephone directory.

Nielsen has good sensible recommendations that should be followed more
often.  But it's sort of like the Old Testament of web design....there's a
bit of hysteria in there about the unknown, the unfamiliar, the unintuitive,
the challenging, and the creative.  Know your audience, know your purpose,
and use what you need to use to accomplish your goals.


got paragraphs of text on pages that have extra leading on the last
sentence?  add a <br /> tag.
simple and underused:  got align="whatever" page elements?  force a complete
break by using <br clear="all" />

-----Original Message-----
From: martin.p.burns at uk.pwcglobal.com

>but seriously now, folks...though Nielsen frequently has his self-righteous
>head up his posterior,

To be honest, the only arguments I've seen against him are:
   "He charges $n,000 a day and I'm such a weenie. I don't like him"
   "I'm a crack-addict and can't wean myself off the flashy stuff"
   "His site is, like, soooooooooooooooo ugly"
   "I'm too lazy to learn how to write HTML properly"

You can't fault the fact that he writes based on *research*, not opinion.

If you want to argue with Nielsen, then it's a put-up or shut-up: do your
own damn research to prove him wrong.

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