Meeting Jakob Nielsen

Yesterday, I did something you didn’t.

I spoke to Jakob Nielsen. Exciting, huh?

I was at a whole-day seminar on intranet portals being run by NN/g, and it was pretty interesting. Not as interesting as getting to ask Jakob himself a couple of questions, though. I was very careful to not mention micropayments, but we did talk about his Law of the Web User Experience: “Users spend most of their time on other sites. Thus, anything that is a convention and used on the majority of other sites will be burned into the users’ brains and you can only deviate from it on pain of major usability problems.” We talked about how that applies to intranets during the panel discussion, because users will spend most time at work using the intranet rathe than external websites (assuming that you’ve done it right and they’re not the sort who just surf the web all day and do no work), and therefore it’s possibly OK to deviate from accepted usability guidelines (because you have a captive audience). I suspected that his answer to his would be that we should still emulate the web, because people are becoming more familiar with it all the time, and I wasn’t wrong; that’s exactly what he said. Very helpful in general over the day, although I was half-expecting some Grand Tenets of Usability and didn’t get much that I didn’t know from reading the Alertbox.

And he has appalling battered brown loafer deck shoes, too, but that doesn’t stop him being a very reasonable chap in person and not as dogmatic as I had expected. All points to Jakob, who goes up in my estimation. Funny how some people are entirely different online and in person.

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