Lazy, stupid and evil design

14 July, 2005 at 15:58 Leave a comment

[Article by Jack Schofield. Thursday June 23, 2005. The Guardian]

Having a coffee and cake with Jakob Nielsen, the web usability expert from Nielsen Norman Group, I asked him what was holding up progress on the web. “Three things, really: I call them lazy, stupid and evil design,” he replies. “Evil design is where they stop you from doing what you are trying to do, like putting an advert over the top of the page. That’s the wrong way to do it. Google has made billions by putting the ads where people do want them, rather than where they don’t want them.”

Evil design is perpetrated by people who are deliberately doing the wrong thing, and this harms everyone. Nielsen cites pop-up windows as an example. Users now expect pop-ups to be unwanted ads, and close them without looking at them. As a result, good designers can no longer use pop-up windows even when they would be a good solution.

“We now have to say: ‘Don’t put your help text in a pop-up window.’ It’s ruined it for everybody,” he adds. “Stupid design is where companies are doing things that are known not to work. We now have 12 years documented experience that certain things work and certain things do not work,” says Nielsen, “and companies are still doing things that do not work.” One example is the Flash intro. “Almost everybody knows that doesn’t work, but every so often, a new website comes along and makes that mistake. That’s stupid.” The solution is education. “We have to make it even more well known,” he grins.

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Entry filed under: Computers/ICT, Miscellany, News-Media, Research, WebXP.

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