Saturday, February 03, 2007

Usability makes business sense

An interview with Jakob Nielsen ...

"Good usability transcends age, geography and culture, says usability expert Jakob Nielsen. It doesn't matter if a Web site targets an Internet surfer who is 20 and not 50 years old, or is Asian and not American. The site will succeed in attracting visitors if it is designed according to how humans think and behave.

According to the 25-year industry veteran, studies show that legibility is important not only for older people. Even the young, and those who have good eyesight, prefer larger text that's easier to read.

Nielsen says there is also little difference between Internet users in Asia and those in the United States or Europe, because "they depend on the fundamental characteristics of the human brain, which are the same all over the world".

In an e-mail interview with ZDNet Asia, Nielsen shares one of his pet peeves and talks about Usability Week 2007, his first Asian conference, which will be held in March 2007 in Hong Kong.

Nielsen, who will be speaking on day three of the event, says Hong Kong was the choice location because of the strong interest in usability among several companies there, and "an unbeatable view from the conference venue which is right on the harbor".

The usability guru will speak on the guidelines for Web usability, and distill the findings of an extensive global study which tested 776 Web sites with 2,403 users in 16 countries across four continents.

Nielsen says it is about time Asia took an interest in usability, which can have a positive impact on a company's bottom line if a Web site is built based on what customers want. The career prospects for usability professionals are also looking up, as the industry and businessess recognize usability testing as an important factor in product development.

Q. Name three Web sites that you think have the best usability.

Nielsen: The best sites tend to be the most famous sites because you get to be big on the Internet by having good usability. Google, Yahoo and Amazon are certainly among the top sites in usability: They all emphasize getting users the information they want, as quickly as possible, and then they get out of the way."    (Continued via ZDNet India)    [Usability Resources]


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