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Offending items: advertising style and on-site sales

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I have mentioned with some reverence website design guru Jakob 'Usability' Nielsen, who makes US$10,000 a day reviewing people's websites. According to Guardian computer guru Jack Schofield, who recently interviewed Nielsen, he reckons it is a 'long, hard struggle'. Not to say lucrative.

Nielsen has been in town recently.

The conferences were sold out but there is some very useful material to be seen on his website. Use it to review your own site or before you commission one: www.useit.com/alertbox/ is the place to look for the basic material.

Nielsen's betes noires include frames, scrolling text and constantly running animations, complex URLs, long scrolling pages, orphan pages, slow downloads, lack of navigation support, drop-down menus, slow download times, bloated graphic design and anything that looks like advertising.

Nielsen believes that now web users simply fail to pay any attention to ads because they get in the way of navigation. In the end, he says: 'Slow response times are the worst offenders against web usability. ' So there, it is not just me (and everybody who has to use slow sites) who you get for free, it is advice you pay US$10,000 a day to hear.

Nielsen, incidentally reckons 10 seconds is the maximum time a viewer will wait.

Add to the above list of don'ts: skinny blue text on green backgrounds.

Someone suggested I take a look at Future Systems'site, www.futuresystems.com. 'The cheapest way to feel you have drunk two bottles of wine, without touching a drop, ' is how it was described by an admirer of the practice's architecture. The green probably looks tight and acid on the Future Systems screens but on my screen it is truly bilious, 1950s suburban. And the square thumbnails plop their way on to the screen, plop, pause, plop, pause, plop. And when you click on 'books' on Future Systems you are dumped in the Amazon bookselling site. Cheap!

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