Sunday, February 05, 2006

Jakob Nielsen: good usability?

A little criticisim of the site ...

"Jakob Nielsen is always held up as the stalwart of usability and singly stands out more than anyone else I can think of in any other field. Yet in my opinion, his own site (, has some areas that are in need of improvement.

By far the most frustrating feature of his website is the lack of columns. On many of the article pages (here being an example), his text runs across the entire width of the window. While this may have been acceptable in the days when a resolution beyond 800x600 was almost unheard of, nowadays it makes for tiresome reading. And data suggests that over 75% of people have moved beyond 800x600s.

My laptop monitor is 1280 pixels wide, probably about average. Using the default Firefox font size and a full screen window, the first full line of text in the above article contains 142 characters. Most books contain around 60 characters per line, which allows the reader to pick up the next line without dropping a beat. I've always been aware that on my site, the left-hand column is quite wide, and I think I'm pushing the limit at around 110 characters per line using default settings. However, the jump from 110 to 142 makes a huge difference to readability."   continued ...   (Via Tangential Ramblings)


Anonymous Dave said...

I think you've made a good point, however, you appear to be assuming that everybody runs their browser as a maximised window. Over the years, as screen resolutions have crept up, I've rarely used my browser at full screen size, especially since I've been running resolutions over 800*600. Nielsen's aim appears to be to present the information in a way that you can use the tools available to you (e.g. resizable browser windows) in order to display it in a suitable fashion.

2:11 AM  
Anonymous Dan said...

I agree that this is an option, but many people will not be aware that this option is available. IE usually defaults to opening maximized.

Maybe his audience is more net-savvy than the average user. However, I don't think it's a good example to be setting...

6:35 PM  

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