February 11, 2002

Jakob Nielsen on false prophets
I received an email from Jakob Nielsen about my previous post on usability snake oil vendors. Here's what Jakob had to say:

"I noticed your essay on false usability a few days ago. I commented on the same phenomenon back in 1999, calling it "voodoo usability":

Unfortunately, as you point out, flawed approaches have been increasing, rather than declining, in the time since my essay, so it's good that you took the initiative to revive interest in the matter."
Jakob Nielsen
Author, "Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed"
Nielsen Norman Group

I've received a number of other comments via email, all supporting what I said. One person said they avoid using the term "usability" to describe what they do because it is just too vague. They think its vagueness allows an opening for "snake oil merchants". That may be, but in my book wrong is wrong, no matter how big an "opening" is provided by the victim or the environment.

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