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Technical Editing / Information Design / Graphics Design
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Developmental Editing: Project Summary

What is the thesis of the Web site (document)?

This Web site presents Jakob Nielsen’s analysis and opinion on Web site design and Web technology usability and his suggestions for improving user experiences with Web sites.

The main purpose of the Web site is to inform Web developers and other interested parties of usability issues and some research results. The primary goal is to improve Web usability.

Why did you select the document?

Jakob Nielsen is the world’s leading expert on Web usability. He established this Web site as a forum for sharing his experiences on Web site testing and for presenting ideas that Web developers can use to improve the sites they design.

The site itself, however, suffers from a number of usability problems. Some of the problems stem from the fact that the site was originally designed to be simple, with limited content types. Over the years, new content types have been added in an ad-hoc fashion. The result is disorganization. For example,

  • Dr. Nielsen has written or co-written two books since the site’s inception. Although the site’s folder structure includes a /books/ folder, his first book is described under /jakob/webusability/ while the second book is described under /homepageusability/. Since the site does not expose its hierarchy with a persistent navigation scheme, casual users are unlikely to notice the lack of consistency and organization. The lack of persistent navigation, however, makes it difficult for users to systematically explore the site content or develop a mental model of the site structure.
  • The primary content of this site, the biweekly Alertbox columns, are listed chronologically. Although the site has a search function, users are faced with seven years of columns. Categorization of the columns would facilitate users’ browsing through the content.

I selected this project because I feel I understand the usability and organizational issues involved, and a I can suggest improvements to the usability of this site. I am attracted to the project because it gives me the opportunity to evaluate Dr. Nielsen’s work by his own standards. After all, the Web site of the world’s leading Web usability expert should be usable.

What is the status of development (new, revised, incomplete)?

This Web site is, and is not, complete. It is complete in the sense that a snap-shot of the site will not contain gaping holes in the content. “Under construction” or “coming soon” notices do not appear. As with many regularly-updated sites, though, the site will not be complete until the author ceases to write content.

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