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Interview with Web Usability Guru, Jakob Nielsen

Interviewed by Walter Apai, WDD
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Jakob Nielsen is a world renowned usability expert. He has been educating hundreds of thousands of web designers around the world since 1995.

The interview begins with Jakob Nielsen telling us a bit more about himself and how he got started in this field.

From there, many questions were asked regarding his views on usability, web and design--the following are some of the questions

What is the best way to test the usability of a website?

Follow the 3 basic rules: get representative customers, ask them to perform realistic tasks, and shut up and let them do the talking.

If we wish to conduct an affordable usability test, what would be the best way to do this?

Recruiting representative users.

Is it ok to break the rules of usability when creating artisitic portfolio websites and blogs?

Yes. First, the definition of art vs. design allows you to do anything in an art project, because it doesn't serve a utilitarian purpose. Even though there certainly would be a business purpose in something like a portfolio site, the standard usability guidelines still wouldn't be as critical

What makes Amazon.com so successful?

Amazon is a great case study in the difference between total user experience and the on-screen user interface. They owe their success to a lot of off-screen aspects of the total user experience, including comprehensive product selection, informative confirmation emails, and rock-solid fulfillment.

Should usability be the same for every website, or should it be 'customized' based on the target audience?Usability is always relative to two things: who are the users, and what are they trying to accomplish with the UI?

That's why we can't just have one recommended design and just replace the logo to create a new site.