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Zen and the Art of Clickability...

Before leaving his post at Sun MicroSystems to begin his own consulting business and concentrate on his writing, Dr. Jacob Nielson, spent many years working as the company's in-house usability expert, testing Sun's products and web sites to make sure user interfaces functioned as smoothly as possible.

If you've ever gotten lost at a major corporate web site or media portal you probably know first hand that organizing thousands of pages of information using a medium that is inherently resistant to structure presents web site designers and information architects with a major challenge.

It's safe to say that laying out a site that doesn't hopelessly confuse and irritate visitors is an art in it's own right.

By applying the same sort of rigorous laboratory testing and strict rules tech companies use to beta test software Neilson argues web developers can eliminate many of the common problems found in poorly-designed web sites.

Nielson's book on the subject "Designing Web Usability" from New Riders Publishing which came out late in 1999, is a must for anybody who is serious about taking the scientific approach to organizing their web pages.

By studying the design and evolution of a series of high web profile sites Nielson demonstrates the ways in which some web development tactics work, but more often the ways in which they fail.

You'll probably agree with a lot of what the opinionated Dr. Nielson has to say - and some of his opinions will probably rub you the wrong way.

Nielson is a conservative to the marrow on the subject of web site design and Architecture.

For example, his argument that all links must be in the traditional colors - blue for live links - purple for visited colors, strikes us as more than a little reactionary.

The idea that surfers are so focused on finding information that they are unable to adapt to subtle interface changes is a little weird sounding, if you ask us.

On the other hand, Nielson's thinking on web site organization, on structural simplicity and on site navigation is dead on target, as far as we're concerned.

If you don't feel like blowing forty bucks for the book pay a visit to his web site - you'll find most of his opinions well represented here, along with archived versions of many of the columns he's written on the subject for industry publications.

Conceptualize Clickability

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