Saturday, February 12, 2005


If you think usability is old hat...

I often come across essays that argue that even if at one time usability was once not sufficiently addressed, those days are past: it's time to get one with more cutting edge issues like "design for seduction" or "sensory-centric mediated experiences" or some other goovy angle.

Indeed, usability has improved remarkably on the web over the past decade, but I can still be shocked how bad it can be in 2005. Here is a site that in theory should know better, from the techno-geek publishing giant A first glance would suggest there is useful information available on the site, but in reality it is one of the worst sites I've ever encountered. The site spits out results indiscriminately, the user has no control over how to locate things and navigate, and one can't tell "editorial" content from blatant advertising. What one sees after clicking is completely random. As backend software becomes more powerful, the dangers to users of bad usability escalate. Usability will be a "solved" problem only when software stops innovating, which is still some time from now, I reckon.

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