Jakob Nielsen Is Full Of Shit

Well that’s what I heard.
I guess I just can’t shake the impression that this guy likes to piss on beauty. Oh sure, he talks about multi-disciplinary teams and whatnot, but I think he derives perverse satisfaction from the effect his rhetorical position has on its detractors. He seems rather smug. But hey, I’ve been called a turgid prick and I while I suppose I might be, I don’t believe I am. So perhaps the whole thing is more complicated. Perhaps Jacob is a wonderful fellow.
My guess is that it has to do with the whole “Two Cultures” thing. Any web designer who has worked with a UX or usability expert knows what I’m talking about. The same holds true in reverse. I imagine the same pattern plays in all kinds of contexts; screenwriters and audience testers, architects and engineers, CEOs and CFOs. There is a tension that always exists between what is proven and what is possible.
There’s still compelling evidence to suggest Jacob is a punk. I mean, check out his site. The home page is pretty offputting as user experience goes what with all those links. He’s got this page called, “Why This Site Has Almost No Graphics”. In it he says that,

I am not a visual designer, so my graphics would look crummy anyway. Since this website is created by myself (and not by a multidisciplinary team as I always recommend for large sites) I didn’t want to spend money to hire an artist.

Lame. If you really want to sell your message, it seems incumbent upon you to do your best to make it viscerally appealing. I’m sure there are designers who would redesign the site in return for publicity.
Then again, I’m drunkblogging so I realize perhaps I’m just being an asshole. Sorry Jake. I’m just fuggin’ with ya. I love nerds.

4 thoughts on “Jakob Nielsen Is Full Of Shit

  1. functionality v form
    design v functionality
    usability v asthetics
    etc
    This is seemingly the constant struggle. But shouldn’t it always be a balancing act?
    Jakob’s site sucks because it’s ugly. I’ve looked at it in the past and I always think to myself how ugly it is. If you are forced to write a page saying why your site is so ugly, then it’s ugliness has detracted from your content. So function loses out in this case because people are actually consciously thinking about it.
    I love nerds (and I often am one), but in this case an “off the shelf” blog template for his site would’ve been a better choice.
    Then again, what do I know, he’s getting people like you drunk blogging about it and the SEO mantra “any traffic is good traffic” is more important for him.
    Speaking of traffic – http://www.creativereason.com, simple, clean, logo only – brilliant or lazy?

  2. Grr, comma in my comment detracted from my SEO goodness – http://www.creativereason.com
    Also, I had a typo -
    Then again, what do I know, he’s getting people like you drunk blogging about it and the SEO mantra “any traffic is good traffic” is maybe more important for him.
    I forgot the maybe, without it, I appear to be omniscient. I’m not. I don’t actually know if it is more important for him. I can only guess.

  3. Brian, sorry I’ve been slow to respond. Many fires, many irons, so on. But that’s no excuse. Mea Culpa.
    I think Jakob is tendentious. That’s what I really mean when I say ‘full of shit’. In other words, he’s like the political ideologue that can’t bring himself to acknowledge any validity anytime, anywhere in any of his philosophical opponents’ positions. Sure, he says otherwise, but I think his personal site speaks volumes about his actual opinion. This guy has about as much celebrity as a UX wonk can realize. He’s the most recognizable name associated with usability among anyone who works with the web. Which isn’t saying much I suppose, but still, there are probably hundreds of thousands of people who know who Jakob is and generally what he does. That he would allow his web presence to be as shamelessly unaesthetic given the number of visitors it likely enjoys, strikes me as the key insight to what Jakob really thinks.
    Re: your logo and site design,
    The logo has the following merits to my mind: 1) it is simple as you say, and 2) it tells the story of the brand directly. The site design is obviously very minimal as well, which I think is just fine and perfectly appropriate.

  4. It surprises me that Jakob is supposed to be this UX god, when in fact he preaches the opposite. User experienced is based on human factors — including human emotions, which he seems to presuppose that people don’t need, or have.

    Therefore, he has an ugly site, and yes, he is full of shit. He’s smart up to a point of course, but he needs a good psychiatrist.

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