Kevin Cheng  

The Expert Has Spoken

May 18th, 2007 by Kevin Cheng :: see related comic

Jakob “[Nielly][1]” Nielsen recently was [featured on BBC][2] discussing how Web 2.0 sites designed for user generated content were often ignoring basic design principles.

It’s not that anything he said was necessarily _wrong_. Every new beta site out there seems like it’s been focusing more on flashy transitions than actual utility. But what struck me was how little impact Nielsen, and many others, have now on the blogosphere.

It used to be that every [Alertbox][3] article posted would be widely distributed or discussed. Nowadays, and perhaps this is only from my perspective, it seems the effects are awfully muted.

I’m wondering if this is simply another effect of blogs providing voices for so many more experts or is the concept of an expert becoming archaic?

Speaking of blogs, did you know that [MC Hammer][4] has a blog? I’m so out of it.


11 Responses to “The Expert Has Spoken”
Jakob Nielsen wrote:

Please, I have zero interest in having an “impact on the blogosphere.”

My goal is to impact my paying customers, who come to my conferences or read my research reports. The good stuff go to them, and you shouldn’t judge my six-day event in London by the very brief summary the BBC published.

It’s easy enough to get on the front page of Digg, and I write a link baiting column every now and then, just for the kicks. Yes, it does bring in a few hundred thousand extra “unique users”, but they generate zero dollars in business for my company, so I don’t see why I should chase readers who have no money.

Lar wrote:


While I totally agree with all of your points, I think it would be great if you borrowed at least something of what the blogosphere has to offer, namely RSS feeds on the alertbox.

On catering for the blogosphere, I agree that many of our usability clients that will eventually pay us at iQ Content may not read our blog. However, our blog has led to a number of benefits over the last 12 months including networking opportunities, recruitment and yes, some paying customers.

Perhaps you don’t need a blog or the blogosphere as you’re a household name in usability and customers will seek out your personal brand.

On the Web 2.0 side, it’s very easy to discount some of the social networking websites as poorly designed and displaying major usability flaws, yet they are still being used, something I haven’t seen much commentary on from the usability community. For example, Bebo has over 1 million users from Ireland alone. That’s about quarter of our population.

Dan Lurie wrote:

I think that, for all the talk lately in the internet community about usability, most people are just blowing smoke. Most, if not all, of the new sites I try every day are a pain to use, often breaking simple fundamental rules of interaction.

The trend here isn’t decreased impact, its the rise of thousands of designers who think they’re too good to actually sit down and listen to someone knowledgable about these issues.

Lar wrote:


I think the person most knowlegable about these issues is the *user*. Understanding your user, engaging with your user to me are one of the most valuable things you can do.


Dan Lurie wrote:

Whether the user or some sort of UxD expert doesn’t matter, as long as the time is taken to look at things from a different angle. I can’t tell you how many web designers I know who don’t even consider how the user will approach the site until they’re completely done with the visual design.

Eric Meyer wrote:

“…so I don’t see why I should chase readers who have no money.”

Wow. It’s rare to see someone be that nakedly honest about the business side of things. I’m not criticizing at all; I’m in business myself, and I’ve been open about business realities in the past (to my personal detriment, actually). It’s just that it’s always a bit bracing to see it. Way to be keepin’ it real, Neilly!

Drew Simchik wrote:

It’s hard to say what the message was without watching the original broadcast, but when a pronouncement like “web 2.0-happy sites often ignore basic design principles” is made, people often hear instead, “web 2.0-ness is incompatible with basic design principles.” I don’t see why the latter should be true at all, and so the main message — basic design principles are the most important — is really not that new or controversial.

That may partially explain why Nielsen is less discussed (if that’s true). Relentlessly stressing the basics is absolutely correct, but after a certain point it can no longer be _news_.

Itai wrote:

Hi, for those of you interested in an RSS feed for Jabob Nielsen’s alertbox, here one:


Marijn wrote:

Ghehe i wonder if that first post was really made by jakob.

Kevin Cheng wrote:

Jakob does have a track record of responding to our comics and posts that mention him. He’s been a really good sport throughout the years with OK/C.

Kevin Cheng wrote:

I forgot to mention, I never meant to imply Jakob pandered or cared about the blog buzz about anything he does or writes. I was simply observing how the reactions and ripple discussions seem to have lessened.

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OK/Cancel is a comic strip collaboration co-written and co-illustrated by Kevin Cheng and Tom Chi. Our subject matter focuses on interfaces, good and bad and the people behind the industry of building interfaces - usability specialists, interaction designers, human-computer interaction (HCI) experts, industrial designers, etc. (Who Links Here) ?