Gasbag Guru

Jakob Nielsen is the self-proclaimed guru of useability. Others proclaim him, too, and he has lots of good ideas which he offers at large on his Alertbox site. He practices what he preaches, with a highly useable delivery of information. I'm on his mailing list and get notified when a new column comes out.

In the mid-1990s, he learned how to churn out software patents, and has close to 50 of them.

The only problem he has is insufferability. His bio page has a picture that's a little too big, to match his sense of importance. It leads off with glowing quotes from everybody, like how he's "the smartest person on the web."

Maybe he'd like to add a quote from me: the mightiest self-inflated gasbag on the web.

After figuring out that his "top ten mistakes" column has been read almost a million times, Jakob laments that he's "losing ground" as the web grows: "...the numbers imply that 15 million websites have been designed without the benefit of knowing these ten basic rules."

No man comes to the father except through me, eh?

Gloating over the demise of "Boo": "Boo was one of the very few high-profile sites to launch in recent months that dared violate my design principles and aim for glitz rather than usability...."

Don't you dare!

His earlier "mini-review" complained " takes itself too seriously." Apparently only Jakob is supposed to do that. I never saw Boo, but I will grant that the site sounds horrific.

The categorical imperative: "My estimate is that at least 90% of all commercial websites are overly difficult to use..." With "overly difficult" defined by the Master, of course.

My estimate is that 90% of estimates are bogus.

On August 6, he titled his Alertbox Why Doc Searls Doesn't Sell Anything, and blamed it all on the unacceptable unusability of Wordsworth. Coincidentally, I'd seen another reference to Wordsworth a few minutes before, and visited the site, comparison shopping for a book I'd seen "live" earlier today.

Seeing the reference to a shopping "bag" rather than a cart didn't bother me. I didn't try adding anything to my bag, because I wanted to see shipping costs first. They were too high, and their discount on the book in question was only half of Amazon's. If they'd had a better net deal, I was prepared to try business with a new merchant, but they didn't, so no sale.

Jakob sez "Note that all of these arguments apply to experienced Web users," since he figures those are who visit Doc Searls' site. Well, darn it Jakob, I'm going to have to call bullshit on this one. You may think you know why Doc's sales went to zero, but that doesn't make it so.

(And what's up with that #FFFFDD background on your summary? I'm confused, you never used colored backgrounds before. Maybe I should go somewhere else for opinions, in a more understandable black and white format.)

In his email announcement of the above page, he announced yet another principal joining the Nielsen Norman Group (hmm, I thought it was the Norman Nielsen Group), but reassured us that

Don't worry that I will fill your mailbox with these announcements. There are probably only two more people in the world who are qualified to be principals of Nielsen Norman Group, and I doubt that they are joining any time soon.

I bet he's a member of Mensa, too.

Here's what I'm talkin about. Oops, no, try here.

Aug. 30, 2000