Jakob Nielsen, maintainer of www.useit.com, has published a hardcopy book entitled Designing Web Usability. This article asks “What can we learn from this book?”
Nielsen writes for a broad audience of decision-makers, HTML designers, graphic designers, and programmers. Nearly all of the examples are from e-commerce, corporate, or commercial sites. ArsDigita Systems Journal has a narrower audience in some ways. Nobody comes to ASJ to learn about HTML or graphic design, for example. But our audience is interested in a broader class of Web services than those treated by Nielsen. In particular, ASJ readers aspire to build sites that are collaborative, sites that use computing technology in an effective way, sites that have a dramatic impact on the users’ perceptions of how the Internet can be applied. We do have readers that would like to sell a few more widgets from their catalog ecommerce sites, but on balance we’d like every article here to be worth the time of an MIT computer science senior taking Software Engineering for Web Applications (http://philip.greenspun.com/teaching/one-term-web).
The goal of this article is to pick out the most interesting stuff from Nielsen’s book, leave out stuff that would be obvious to our readers (e.g., “frames suck”), and tie Nielsen’s material to related ideas.”