Rant about Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox

Ever since I followed the course "User Interfaces", I've been subscribed to Jakob Nielsen's announcement mailinglist (I was required to subscribe and it sometimes has nice alertboxes).

Today's alertbox is about

Interaction techniques that deviate from common GUI standards
can create usability catastrophes that make applications impossible
to use.

But that's not the problem. The problem is how the email is structured. Let me show you what it looks like:

Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox for July 23 is now online at:
> http://www.useit.com/alertbox/dialog-box.html

Interaction techniques that deviate from common GUI standards can create
usability catastrophes that make applications impossible to use.


User Experience 2007 conference

> Barcelona, November 4-9
> Las Vegas, December 2-7

31 full-day tutorials
2 keynote presentations: e-commerce, the state of usability

Full program:
> http://www.nngroup.com/events



I am collecting examples of metrics that quantify the impact of
design changes. If you have data you are willing to share, please
email John Berger at [email protected]

Any type of user interface is of interest: websites, intranets,
applications, mobile devices, etc. Also, the design changes may refer to a
complete redesign of the total UI or it could just be a single feature,
screen, or design element that was changed.

Measures of interest include anything that measures how usage changed.
That often means an improvement, but data that documents negative results
are just as interesting.

Example metrics:
* conversion rate
* total e-commerce sales in dollars and/or units
* size of average "sales basket" for e-commerce
* training time needed to learn a feature or system
* sign-up rate for newsletters or other desired action
* lead-generation
* time on task and other productivity measures
* subjective satisfaction scores
* average page views and/or duration of visit per user
* returning visitor traffic

And so on.

Notice how all links in this mail are preceded by a "greater than" sign for some odd reason, possibly to indicate that it is a link. Surely the "http://" in front would not have given it away any faster...

This "greater than" sign bugs the hell out of me. This is how I read my mail: I open mutt, open a mail and read it. If any interesting links are within it, I double click on the line so it all gets selected (and automagically copied into my copy/paste buffer) and paste it in my browser.

Because of the "greater than" sign at the start of the line, I can't just copy the entire line by doubleclicking on it. No, I have to go to the start of the URL, and select the URL untill the end. I hate that.

Isn't it ironic that a mailinglist about usability forced me to stray for my normal procedure and forces me to use a more difficult and timeconsuming one ?

Dear Jakob Nielsen, please get rid of the stupid "greater than" sign in front of your links and just let the links sit on their own empty line.