analytical Q May-Aug 2000 Sept-Dec 2000 Contact Discussion

The Diary
Anne Ku

18 December 2000 Monday






I said in a presentation recently that there were three types of information seekers: value-focussed, alternative driven, and a hybrid. In a recent article (Computer Weekly, 9 November 2000), the usability guru Jakob Nielsen believes there are two types of users: those who vaguely know what they want and those who know exactly what they want.

So I went on to say that search engines are good for those who know what they want. They can use keyword search and more advanced search strategies. But those who don't know what they want will be overwhelmed by the number of search results.

This is precisely the reason why good navigation is important. It should be intuitive. It should be easy to move around logically. When a user visits a web site for the first time, he/she would want to know what it is, if it's not obvious. Thus an "about us" link is very important. For company sites, it's good to have its collection of press releases or "in-the-news".

The Internet offers instant gratification. Users who have to wait for components to download will move on. Only those who know what they're looking for and know that the particular site has got it will be willing to wait for the slow download.

Although I missed Nielsen's talk in London (28-30 Nov), I have already read his book Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity. And I hope to preach some of his concepts (usability, cognitive economy, and the like) to my friends and colleagues who are still blind to what users really want.

Related diary entries:
usability in the park
usability of travel sites
Nielsen's top 10 mistakes on the web:
  1. breaking or slowing down the "back" button
  2. opening new browser windows - oops I do this!
  3. non-standard use of graphic user interface widgets
  4. lack of biographies
  5. lack of archives
  6. moving pages to new URLs
  7. headlines that make no sense out of context
  8. jumping at the latest Internet buzzword
  9. slow server response times
  10. anything that looks like advertising