this is your brain on netscape 6

If you’ve been a long time resident of a mailing list, you see some arguments crop up over […]

If you’ve been a long time resident of a mailing list, you see some arguments crop up over and over again. A classic on usability lists is people trying to apply Jakob’s top ten rules to some poor schmuck’s homepage.

A classic unique to web development lists is “Why can’t I force the user to upgade their setup.” It’s usually in reaction to a burning desire to use CSS2, or some cool javascript, or they’ve got a moron breathing down their neck wanting the design to be “just how it is in photoshop” or maybe the developer is just sick if figuring out out how write degradable code. One developer pointed at a recent article on which further pushes that agenda: if you want people to upgrade, force them! I responded on the list thusly (and it applies to the usability nazis too).

“This is art

when you make art, you can do as you please. A gallery can ask the patrons to come in through a vent rather than a door, if they think it improves the artistic experience. An art site can take over your browser: they need you to PAY ATTENTION.

This is a personal site

If you have a personal site, you can do as you please, as long as you please yourself. It’s the equivalent of wearing no pants while you watch TV with the window open. If you are okay with it, why not. Your neighbors may be dismayed, but they know how to draw the shades.

This is a personal/professional site

Now we get into a gray area: it’s rather like putting on a blue suit for a job interview. John Rhodes is representing himself as a usability expert, and he may love mauve, but he suppresses an urge to make all his links mauve in order to show he is about savvy about usability practices. He keeps his pants on.

This is also a personal/professional site

Nathan is a designer first, a user-centered advocate second. He’s also fairly established in the field. He can break a few of “the rules” as he is also expressing his artistic flare. He may need to be a flashy to stand out in the crowd. He may have to wear a tie with a hula dancer on it with his blue suit to let people know he may do something unexpected.

This is a site that wants your money.

they get out of the way of the product. They do not express themselves. They do not force you to upgrade or buy a better monitor. They know people do not upgrade when you ask them to, people type in in their search engine. Their site works on netscape 2.0; the doors are always open. They are not arrogant, but they are rightfully proud of giving everyone who comes to their site a solid experience.

This is a site that wants your business.

They know businessmen have big pipes. they also know businessmen aren’t always sure how to resize their browser (looks good on 800×600 as it does at 1024. Heck, you can use it at 640…)

Know your audience.

Know your business.

Know your technology.


User-centered design does not stop at information architecture. it doesn’t stop at interaction design. it doesn’t stop at graphic design. User-centered design is code-deep.


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    and you made yourself into still a better example by showing you are thoughtful about the user experence. You know your audience, you know your business, you know your technology and you designed.

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