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Musings from Mike Atkinson on Internet strategy, usability, and more...

Veen Rant

Jeff Veen rants on the “State-of-the-art interactivity?.” After judging an interactivity contest, his evaluation was that “Everything was designed as over-produced ‘click here for the next Flash movie’ interaction. Which is to say, it wasn’t interactive at all. What I quickly realized was that the work I was seeing reflected designers refusing to let go of their perceived control.”

My biggest battles through the years have been with designers. If I had a dime for every “But it’s cool!” I could retire.

It just doesn’t matter. Very few people are on the web to be wowed. They’re there to perform a function, meet a need, gather information.

Erring on the side of “cool” inevitably gets in the way of these tasks. Breaking with established web standards will drive away the people you want to connect with.

But are there variables? Certainly.

For example (a minor one at that), on my site I chose links with no decoration (in other words, not underlined). From what I know of the folks visiting my site, I’m confident that they know a different-colored word is a link.

But on one of my customer’s sites, they have an older constituency, so we chose to use standard, underlined links.

I’ve seen older web users in tests have absolutely no idea that a word that’s a different color but not underlined is actually a link.

So there is some relativity on these decisions – no slavish adoption required of every single thing from Jakob Nielsen’s mouth.

And, don’t get me wrong, a cool, professional design is important today – especially as the target audience gets younger. Just don’t ignore true interactivity and standardized interfaces.

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