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Subject: Re: UKNM: WAP Numbers
From: Craig_Sullivan
Date: Sat, 16 Dec 2000 13:35:37 GMT

Subject: Re: UKNM: WAP Numbers

James Closs wrote:
>Nope. The guy is a pompous twat. He has some valid (though mostly
>plain obvious) points to make about usability but chooses to
>more-or-less totally ignore branding/aesthetic issues.

Unfortunately you are sooo wrong James.

Branding and aesthetic issues are important for many web sites and I take
care to ensure that these are reflected in the design of sites I've

However, if usability is not a central part of the design of a web site, it
will drag down browser/buyer ratios, result in failed registrations and
discarded baskets and cause immense frustration for the public. Designers
have been testing products for years to assess their usability so Jakob is
not a proponent of some 'new idea'. However, many web sites are so
ridiculously UNusable that it is a surprise that anyone manages to buy
anything from them.

Creative Good (www.creativegood.com) espouse a slightly different tack from
Jakob in that they rate the usability and 'experience' that a customer has
when using a site and boy are there a lot of rubbish sites out there. When
doing usability testing recently, with some competitor sites, it was clear
to us that the designers had put very little thought into how easy to
use/intuitive their sites should be. Net result was that when comparing
our development, our first version came out as 'usable' as our biggest
competitor - our next release will be streets ahead.

We also managed to validate our feeling that most of our customers possess
distinctly different web skills to ourselves. People looking at the tests
could be excused for being shocked at the gap between say my browser skills
and the average customer - however, the site isn't for me - it's for a
target audience.

I'll give you a good example here - when we had a form with the fields
'Address 1, Address 2, Address 3' instead of 'Address line 1, Address line
2', customers supplied 3 different addresses rather than one.
Unfortunately, most of the people that brazenly slag off Jakob Nielsen are
the sort that are too ignorant to expose their work to uncomfortable
usability tests. Feel free to concentrate on the branding - I'm after
customers and money. You may say that the points Jakob makes are obvious
but have you actually ever performed a usability test and found out how
many issues you've overlooked ? Why do you think some of the most popular
web sites have such high conversion ratios ? Because customers find them
easy to use. Why ? Because they've tested and fixed them - duh !



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