Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Nielsen's Number Nine

Jakob Nielsen has got it going on. Let's not question that.

In fact, most of what he and Vincent Flanders have to say in their respective critiques of modern web design hit home for me, recalling memories of web frustrations past. (If you're looking for a good example of mystery-meat navigation, check out indie rocker Ben Kweller's site before the new site -- which is reportedly "coming soon" -- appears.)

But I still cannot figure out Nielsen's gripe with links that open new windows (No. 9 in his "Top Ten Mistakes in Web Design"). It appears that not everyone agrees on this point. I've noticed that readings from our class page all open new windows, and I know that I hate getting lost in navigation on the pages where a link replaces the current page. With every interesting link, I find myself losing train of thought.

But Nielsen groups these new-window links into the much-demonized pop-up category. Are people really frightened that pop-ups are taking over their computers when they click on a link and it opens a new window? Am I really, in Nielsen's words, emptying the users' ashtrays on their carpet to try to sell them a vacuum cleaner?

[Note: Ironically, I've just noticed that my links do not, in fact, open a new window...I'm going to leave this for comic effect and change the template at a future time -- unless, of course, someone can really get across why I shouldn't.]

1 comment:

jd said...

I agree with you that Neilson is being overly broad when it comes to chastising links that open in new windows. I often will use the right click to open a link in a new window when it would not have otherwise done so. This is especially useful when you are on a slow connection and want to load other pages while continuing to read the one you are one. Also, sometimes you want to go back and forth between the page you are on and the page you link to without having to reload the pages each time (again think slow connection). So I agree with you that Nielsen is being overly broad here.