Ok, this is only half a dig. Jakob is one of the most respected writers and thinkers about user interface on the web. He is clearly bright, and he writes intelligent and useful things. In fact I quote Jakob and reference his work all of the time.

But I find his site unreadable.

It hurts my eyes.

What got my attention most recently was this new post on the year’s 10 best application UIs.

Unfortunately, I have to say, Jakob has perhaps the worst site design I have ever seen. It is as if, while he is handing out the Oscars, he is wearing a plaid polyester suit. In truth his site is fine from an information architecture perspective. But from an aesthetics perspective it is awful. And aesthetics is important in UI. If you begin to look at something and want to avert your eyes, the site has failed.

In truth, Jakob’s site has always been ugly. But this time it felt, to me, beyond ugly. I looked at the bulleted list of the top sites, and the bold cramped disorganized looking type starting each bullet, and I could not bear it.

I am sure some, and perhaps many of you will not think it is as bad as I think it is, but I defy any of you to say it is good. And so I ask the question. Do you judge a hair stylist or barber by his or her hair? Do you judge a cobbler poorly if he (or his kids – thanks Jeneane Sessum) has old beat up shoes, or none at all? (Ok so we don’t have cobbler’s any more but the cliche still works.) Do we judge Dr. Phil poorly if he gets a divorce?

And do we think less of Jakob Nielsen as an interface consultant if he seems to have no taste?

Post Author: Ruby H. Rosenbaum

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