As someone who spends a lot of time online (I’m in love with the internet – what can I say?), I can definitely appreciate those who can critically analyze the system we’re using today and contextualize it with praise and suggestions for improvement.
BusinessWeek has this nice article up that includes a transcript of a discussion with Jakob Nielsen, a web design consultant apparently snazzy enough to earn praise from BW as “the acknowledged leader in making Web sites more usable.” I haven’t heard of him, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything – he makes some good points while talking about today’s ‘net and what we can do to make it better. Some stuff of interest:
• There is a glut of bad content out there, especially at company web sites. I wholeheartedly agree on this point. He accurately refers to many of these fluffy bits of eye candy as “brochureware,” which don’t actually provide information to potential consumers in plain language. Cut the flash crap and the blaring audio and give it to me in a clean package. Less IS more!
• Bad searching. While Google and its kin do a good job on the general web, we again return to company sites and their typically horrific proprietary search algorithms. I don’t know how many times I’ve searched through company web sites and found nothing even closely related to what I wanted.
• E-mail overload and the need for better spam filtering, as well as the rise of phishing (getting credit card and other personal information through illegitimate e-mails).
• Companies need to talk to real customers and find out what they want from the web. Teens and seniors are two important groups.
Ultimately, it all boils down to packaging content in ways that are more accesible to users. Blogs need to be written this way, RSS and its kin need to be de-geeked and podcasts…well…only time will tell on that one. Vodcasts/vidcasts, too – I think mobile video’s success will depend largely on how big of a screen people are willing to tote around – something no bigger than a PSP (such a stunning screen) that’s capable of mobile browsing and/or something like UMD might really push this over the edge.