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This is your mind on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Jakob Nielsen = Boring + Ugly

Thank Goodness that someone else has come out to say it. Jakob Nielson is not the guru he’s cracked up to be. Hank Williams has pointed out in a post at Why Does Everything Suck?1 that this particular bit of triteness is “unreadable.” And it is. Do you notice how there are no paragraph indentations? Do you notice how the leading is not adjusted to the height of the font? All the man does is try to dictate conventions and yet he literally dismisses print conventions that have been around for hundreds of years. Neilson is one of these insufferable people who insist on the moronic fission between usability and design. They think design means “make it pretty.” They will tell you that they know that there’s more to it than that, but their actions speak louder—actions like Neilson’s site,

I’ve ranted about this point before, so I’ll sum myself up:

As a designer I’ve always considered the word usability a dirty word—as if saying that you are going to design something implies that you don’t necessarily want anyone to be able to use it. Design should be enough. Unfortunately, I also understand that more often than not designers allow their verve for aesthetics get in the way of function. And having people like Neilsen around to remind us that design should be about the end-user is not such a bad thing

Okay, it looks like I used to be a little more middle-of-the-road on this subject, because these days I feel like having people like Neilson around is a very bad thing. His mere presence gives credence to the awful fission between function and form. He continues to influence people into believing that there is a quantitative approach to design; that there is a heuristic for every situation, and any student of aesthetics will tell you that’s assinine. There are absolutes even in subjectivity, but every individual design has its own needs and simple rules will never satisfy them all. For all his insistence on conventions and yet his illustrated ignorance of old, good ones, Neilson is trying to tell people that there is One Way, and he is dead wrong on that matter.

Found via Daring Fireball

  1. Say there, Hank, cheer up! 

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