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The End of Web Design
tedster




msg:590892
 7:30 pm on Sep 4, 2000 (gmt 0)

Usability maven Jakob Nielsen -- often provocative and always worth listening to -- recently wrote this article [useit.com] about the future of web design.

He makes several good points as always, but he also can be a bit extreme, IMHO. For instance, Nielson sees essentially no future for WAP -- I doubt that. But his observations about not requiring a big learning curve for site navigation are right on.

Designing with his point of view would bypass a lot of browser compatibility issues -- and a lot of potentially useful "features" as well.

The readers' comments for this article are also excellent.

 

Air




msg:590893
 10:05 pm on Sep 4, 2000 (gmt 0)

Just some general thoughts evoked by the article.

The interesting thing is that while the intent (I think) of the article is to remove complexity and have a functionally simple design that works for (all) users, most often functional simplicity can only be produced through elusive insight by the great masters.

There is an element to the Web that is part advertisement, part entertainment, part textbook, and part shopping channel. This is probably because it uses a screen that very much looks like a TV. As users flip channels (Surf the Web) they want one or more of these things, to reduce all of these elements to the same design and function would be analogous to every TV show and movie plot being the same so that it is more easily followed.

Besides, this seems to be a pre-occupation of adults, ever watch kids surf the net? they have no problem getting around anywhere they go, unless the navigation is simply bad i.e they can't find anything to click on.

Does Mr. Nielsen have a site that can be looked at, it would be interesting to see it's design.

rcjordan




msg:590894
 10:53 pm on Sep 4, 2000 (gmt 0)

haven't read the article yet, but wanted to inject a comment about another article/study I read 2 years ago... it basically said that adult users EXPECTED certain nav elements -- 1)nav bar across the top, and 2) site directory down a narrow column on the left-hand side. The study found this to be so strong a 'standard' that they summed it up by "Webmasters: ignore at your peril!" I've experimented somewhat and tend to agree, though this will often set you on a collision course with the art & creative department.

tedster




msg:590895
 1:13 am on Sep 5, 2000 (gmt 0)

That article I linked to above is posted on Jakob's site, which is www.useit.com [useit.com].

If you do a search on his name, you'll find lots more -- he's all over the place since he left Sun, and he's also a fun interview who shows up on Wired, ZDNet, etc.

I think I get what he's saying, but I also get easily bored on his sites -- they're all so left brain! However, I do think he'd be pretty happy with WebmasterWorld!

Air




msg:590896
 1:51 am on Sep 5, 2000 (gmt 0)

Thanks tedster, yeah I see what you mean. That set up is ok for informational sites, but it does get boring.

tedster




msg:590897
 3:08 am on Sep 5, 2000 (gmt 0)

I take it back. He wouldn't approve of WebmasterWorld.

I just read an interview of Nielson [zdnet.com] by John Dvorak -- Nielson doesn't approve of sites that open up a new browser window for off-site links.

He got lots of flack in the feedback column for that one. I agree that opening new windows can be overdone, but sometimes it's perfect. Like on IXQuick where you click on a link in your search results and the page opens in a new window. You can browse very comfortably and know that your original search results page is just one click away when you need it.

Brett_Tabke




msg:590898
 12:24 pm on Sep 5, 2000 (gmt 0)

A forum is about the only place I like 'open in new window' by default. Of course I view it entirely differently as an Opera user who opens 5-50 windows at a time (21 open right now). I always have to remind myself who Jake's audience is - most often thats not me. He is a real corporate/commercial kinda guy. I doubt the Diablo 2 website would work with h tags and ordered lists only...

He did a wonderful job on the design at Google eh?

GWJ




msg:590899
 2:04 pm on Sep 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

I do retail sales. I have always had it stressed to open a popup/new window. If I remeber right the reason was loss of sales.

Brian

tedster




msg:590900
 4:19 pm on Sep 6, 2000 (gmt 0)

My own opinion is that if users KNOW that a new window has opened a lot of the issues around this dissolve.

One method I use when linking out from a retail website is a javascript function that opens the linked page in a new window, but smaller than full screen. The original window still shows, so even to a new user it is clear what has happened.

I make the window resizable and I give it a status bar (this really helps, IMO) but I don't give it a text navigation window -- this way the user can follow links within the new window but they can't type in a new URL without returning to the original page.

However, I'm pretty sure that most spiders won't crawl the javascript link. So when it's important for the link to be counted and followed by search engines, I still do a vanilla HTML link with target="_blank". I often do this in a visually less prominent manner on the page, and make the more obvious link the js function.

GWJ




msg:590901
 11:32 am on Sep 7, 2000 (gmt 0)

*However, I'm pretty sure that most spiders won't crawl the javascript link.*

You are correct there Tedster. I use drop down java script menus for navigation. I did an experiment and put in invisible links on pages pointing to a page that existed but had never been listed in the SEs. Few months later they started showing.

Brian

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