Monday, 6 November 2006

Shirky v/s Nielsen

For years we have been vaguely uncomfortable with Jakob Nielsen's pronouncements on usability. Not because he doesn't make sense. He does, frequently. And we have used his advice and pass it on. But one area of discomfort has always been that is one butt-ugly site. And we believe in aesthetics. (And before you say anything about this blog's template, it reflects our abilities with HTML, not our taste.)

And then, well, we recently discovered Clay Shirky's site.

(The man has been writing good sense for years, but we only found him the other day, because we're doing a lot of research on online community, and found this excellent essay, which we've mailed to quite a few of our bakras friends. But we digress.)

Yennyway, Shirky's open letter to Nielsen in, we think, 1999, which pretty much says all we were struggling to get out of our brain and into words. An excerpt:
I believe that the Web is already a market for quality - switching costs are low, word of mouth effects are both large and swift, and redesign is relatively painless compared to most software interfaces. If I design a usable site, I will get more repeat business than if I don't. If my competitor launches a more usable site, it's only a click away.
And also see his Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality, which talks about blogging and the A-list, and how "Diversity plus freedom of choice creates inequality, and the greater the diversity, the more extreme the inequality."

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