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

A succinct user manifesto

The user-centric gong once again sounds clear and strong.

This time it’s in Jakob Nielsen’s latest column, “Usability: Empiricism or Ideology?.” Don’t let the title scare you…it’s a excellent summary of the two main reasons for usability.

Buried in the article is the best distillation I’ve ever seen of why we must keep the user at the center of web design and development:

  • The right of people to be superior to technology. If there’s a conflict between technology and people, then technology must change.
  • The right of empowerment. Users should understand what’s happening and be capable of controlling the outcome.
  • The right to simplicity. Users should get their way with computers without excessive hassle.
  • The right of people to have their time respected. Awkward user interfaces waste valuable time. [emphases his]


Can’t add much to that, except this: “Luckily, the Web provides a very clear-cut reason to support the usability ideology even if you only care about the bottom line: If your site is too difficult, users will simply leave.”


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