Weave a More Useful Web...please!

The One-Click Approval

"The Internet is about usability," Nielsen said at a Web usability workshop recently. "The computer industry has been able to ship difficult-to-use products because you buy first, and then you try to use it. With the Web, usability comes first, then you click to buy or become a return visitor."

To improve usability, Nielsen suggests Web sites consider what people actually do.

Part of the problem is response time. Nielsen cites a 1968 study on interactivity showing that response time must be less than one second for interactive content. But today, how often have you hit a site that took 15 seconds to download?

Far too many sites use fancy JavaScript animations on the opening splash page. Visitors must download a player application or cache a large file before they can get anywhere on the site. "Before you know the site is any good, you're hit with a half-minute download," Nielsen says.

Beyond opening pages, Nielsen contends that Flash animations and fancy graphics are misused across the Web.

"Animation is used as a blunt weapon," Nielsen says. You're hit with brand but no useful content. And animations increase page load time.

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Cameron Crouch

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