Usability Engineering

Reviewed on , book by Jakob Nielsen

The examples might be dated, but Nielsen’s advice has stood the test of time. It’s clear he was one of the first real advocates for “why don’t you sit down with a user and hear what they think.” Real pragmatist. We just forget the ‘curse of knowledge.’ That the more we know something, the worse judges we are of whether it’s good. Users keep us honest. That you can’t cut corners, because people remember the worst experience instead of their average experience. Also known as the ‘peak-end’ principle, and holds generally true. I skimmed a lot of this book, because it’s somewhat nitty-gritty in a subject, user experience, that I find fascinating, but don’t have the patience to go in complete depth with—at least, not right now. What I was looking for during this read was how Nielsen thought about performance since he was cited in the books I read on the topic. Main thing he’s credited for is: 0.1s is instant, 1 second is fine-ish but not great and affects usability, 10 seconds people have done a complete context switch and start to be upset. I like that.