Jakob Nielsen has stated publicly that many sites have become personalised with various tools, the end result being sites that are “glossy but useless”. Mr Nielsen, a web usability expert, said that studies show web designers are better off getting the basics right – for both their design and the end user.
Web 2.0 has been described as “the latest fashion” – essentially extra functionality or features on the page. Nielsen argues that this must come absolutely secondary to the usability principles that have developed in the last ten years. I am inclined to agree with him.
These principles include good search tools, not using jargon, intuitive navigation, testing and a consideration of design and purpose well before the coding is approached. Much like and project, it must be thought out thoroughly before work begins.
Nielsen highlighted that the web is “a tool” for most people. They use it to access services. So, if a desired service offers superior functionality for instance but slow navigation, this breaking of a usability ‘golden rule’ would be enough to send a user elsewhere – highlighting the significance of the fundamentals.
Exploring another aspect of Web 2.0, the more complexity or layers, the greater likelihood for something going wrong. This may be differing experiences across browsers or even a frustrating user issue such as overly complex navigation.
Generally speaking, I’m in agreement with what Mr Nielsen has to say. As much as I like to see Ajax being used and impressive scripting, good, clean code tops things like widgets or an impressive menu system.
Of course, having usable sites benefits the end user most of all. The new user will have a pleasurable, understood experience. The experiences user will interact longer or gain the information wanted quicker. Ultimately, good design affects all of us and usability goes hand in glove with that.