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End of Web Design: Reading

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 25, 2000

End of Web Design: Reading Nielsen’s pieces - and the (over)reaction to them - is frustrating for me. I see what he’s trying to say in his latest piece (that it would be more useful for Web users if interfaces on the Web were more consistent with each other, just like those of desktop apps), but he takes a very hardline stance on the issue, with proclamations and laws rather than heuristics and suggestions.

This really isn’t Nielsen’s fault; he has to do it that way. Large, clueless companies aren’t going to pay Nielsen thousands of dollars to come in and say “maybe” and “it depends”. They need answers, not suggestions. Nielsen has to have the answer and it has to be the correct one. Microsoft (as an easy example…there are others) handles itself much the same way: any problem can be handled by a Microsoft product/tool and they would never admit otherwise.

Now, I’m not endorsing this approach, but both Jakob and Microsoft have done well by it. In my view, almost nothing in life is absolute - especially when you’re dealing with how people interact with things - and to say so just to elevate yourself and make lots of money is a little icky. A smart play perhaps, but icky. Of course, denouncing Nielsen absolutely (like so many people (sheep?) do every time an essay of his comes out) and calling him an idiot is just as bad.