Saturday, January 19, 2008

Web 2.0 and usability

I just discovered a piece by Jakob Nielsen, the sometimes controversial usability pundit, who wrote a provocative article on Web 2.0.

His main point: “If you focus on over-hyped technology developments, you risk diverting resources from the high-ROI design issues that really matter to your users …”

Early in the article, he provides a working definition of Web 2.0 as a structure for the rest of his article:

- "Rich" Internet Applications (RIA)
- Community features, social networks, and user-generated content
- Mashups (using other sites' services as a development platform)
- Advertising as the main or only business model

The rest of the article is about the usability risks for each of these facets of Web 2.0, in the context of five kinds of web sites – marketing, e-comm, media, intranets, web applications.

Whether you agree or disagree, it’s worth reading. My main reaction was a big hurray, simply because of the refreshing clarity with which he defined his terms and deconstructed the issue. He's a hero to me just for that reason (another writer who jazzes me in the same way is Gary Angel over at SEMphonics). If I could find more people who work within a logical structure when they write, I would be a lot less confused in general.

It's almost a footnote that I agreed with most of his conclusions.


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