Design critique of Jakob Nielsen

Jakob Nielsen is a legendary usability crank who writes great little columns called "AlertBoxes" wherein he runs down his best practices for one or another element of usability (I always forget to read these because I can't find any RSS or Atom for Jakob's site and it updates too infrequently to put it in my regular Moz tab-group bookmark; nevertheless, some of Nielsen's pieces, like the Microcontent thing from 1998 have been very influential in my blogging style)

Last week's AlertBox was about link-style, and it's pretty good and sensible. But, like all of the AlertBoxen, it is ugly as hell.

Enter "Design Eye for the Usability Guy." Five designers, who have clearly been scorched by Nielsen's legendary rants about the primacy of usability over design, take on Nielsen's AlertBox house-style in a kind of overblown, gushy tone, and undertake to remodel Jakob's image so that his site is both usable and beautiful. It's funny, subversive and in the words of the Cos, "you may learn something before it's done. Hey! Hey! Hey!"

Last time I checked it wasn't illegal to use illustrations to spice up your web site. Now, before we go wild let us remember that Nielsen's not exactly the nothing-but-prada-shoes type of guy. So, I settled with a clean, icon-like style that will reinforce each guideline visually. The colours used are basic: red for links, blue for hover and shades of gray and black for other text. Again, let's try to stick with a style that somehow matches his current branding.

To translate the general concept of links into something simple I've chosen to use an underlined letter "a," applied to an assortment of situations that exemplify each guideline. The font used is Georgia, which happens to work nicely and is very much ubiquitous.


(Thanks, Danny!)

Update: here are a couple of scraped RSS feeds off of AlertBox: one from Bootleg RSS (Scraped Feeds For A Better World); one from NewsIsFree. (Thanks, Carlo and Simon!).