Jakob Nielsen - In Search of the Bleeding Obvious
Tuesday, May 27, 2008 at 07:11AM
Malcolm Lambe

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You may of heard of Jakob Nielsen. He's kind of the go to guy for web design best practice. He sells his reports online. They're not cheap. But if you were designing an e-commerce site you'd probably want to read his stuff.

The BBC is currently running a story about him with the provocative title

Web Users Getting More Selfish

Woah you think this is going to be some heavy shit man. Let's have a look at what the Beeb says -

Nielsen: "Search engines rule the web" they lead with. Who knew?

Web users are getting more ruthless and selfish when they go online, reveals research.
The annual report into web habits by usability guru Jakob Nielsen shows people are becoming much less patient when they go online.
Instead of dawdling on websites many users want simply to reach a site quickly, complete a task and leave.
Most ignore efforts to make them linger and are suspicious of promotions designed to hold their attention.

Don't forget you have to pay to read this stuff.

Instead, many are "hot potato" driven and just want to get a specific task completed.
Success rates measuring whether people achieve what they set out to do online are now about 75%, said Dr Nielsen. In 1999 this figure stood at 60%.
There were two reasons for this, he said.
"The designs have become better but also users have become accustomed to that interactive environment," Dr Nielsen told BBC News.
Now, when people go online they know what they want and how to do it, he said.

Well yeah...the net has grown up. And we're all in a hurry. So?

Beating Google requires someone to do search better

There it is right there. This statement needs some kind of Bleeding Obvious Award. If you wanna beat Google you've got to build a better mousetrap.

The Beeb continues with this drivel -

This makes them very resistant to highlighted promotions or other editorial choices that try to distract them.
"Web users have always been ruthless and now are even more so," said Dr Nielsen.
"People want sites to get to the point, they have very little patience," he said.
"I do not think sites appreciate that yet," he added. "They still feel that their site is interesting and special and people will be happy about what they are throwing at them."

Well he's got a point there. How often do we see these try-hard, wanky sites with their flashy graphics and their inane interactive games? I came across one yesterday. This one for a new Australian ABC Television program. They invite you to make your own commercial from some clips they provide. How many times have we seen that? Its not like we're going to say Woaw dude...this is so cool...I can make my own crappy commercial with this thingie. It's not gonna happen is it? Even the kids are hip to it. My four year old, who incidentally is getting pretty close to having his own blog and writing code, just looked at it and yawned.

More -

Web users were also getting very frustrated with all the extras, such as widgets and applications, being added to sites to make them more friendly.
Such extras are only serving to make pages take longer to load, said Dr Nielsen.

Again, good point but nothing earth-shattering there.

There has also been a big change in the way that people get to the places where they can complete pressing tasks, he said.
In 2004, about 40% of people visited a homepage and then drilled down to where they wanted to go and 60% use a deep link that took them directly to a page or destination inside a site. In 2008, said Dr Nielsen, only 25% of people travel via a homepage. The rest search and get straight there.
"Basically search engines rule the web," he said.

Crikey! Really? Who would have thought.

But, he added, this did not mean that the search engines were doing a perfect job.
"When you watch people search we often find that people fail and do not get the results they were looking for," he said.
"In the long run anyone who wants to beat Google just has to make a better search," said Dr Nielsen.

Yeah man. If you wanna beat Google you have to make a better search. Or to put it another way, if you wanna beat Ferrari you have to make a faster car. It's genius stuff isn't it? Or perhaps this dopey BBC reporter is just taking things out of context.

How interesting: I just Googled Jakob Whatisface and found at least one other person agreeing with me in this comment from Guardian Technology blog almost a year ago - It's not what the blogosphere wants to hear because it already knows it. This guy does nothing but point out the obvious and prance about like he's important. There are many great web gurus out there, please people stop giving this attention seeker so much attention, especially an attention seeker who can't even follow his own advice.

Oh Cool I never knew that it was already in vogue to bash Jakob Nielsen. Don't forget to click through to Jake reviews Magritte.

Article originally appeared on flotsam & jetsam from the wordwide web (http://www.welcometowallyworld.com/).
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