It is rare that I let a post ruin my day or make my blood boil. However, I got a chance to read Jakob Nielsen's article on his Alertbox called, Web 2.0 Can Be Dangerous and it had me seeing red. In recent years, I have found most of Nielsen's posts are close-minded and ill informed – yet his write up on Web 2.0 Can Be Dangerous was the worst offender and takes the cake.
The main point of his article is to prove that:
“AJAX, rich Internet UIs, mashups, communities, and user-generated content often add more complexity than they're worth. They also divert design resources and prove (once again) that what's hyped is rarely what's most profitable.”
Fellow practitioners agree that his POVs are just that - his personal view, take, opinion, etc. However, as an active practitioner of AJAX, rich Internet UIs, mashups, communities, and user-generated content programs I can attest that these are not methods and languages are not hyped, they are a basic need in the conversation economy. Moreover, they have improved the way we think, build, and create experiences for consumers to engage within. Not only do I disagree that we divert design resources, but I would state that design resources need to jump into the game and treat their work as if it were always in beta. (Like a great car designer or architect) old school designers need to get into the game.
He makes many arguments, one of which is there are two few users for community and user-generated content. After examining three different teen studies conducted by major media companies and one from Forrester that show 75% are active contributors in online community content, it is presumable that users are not limiting their online conversations and dialogs to merely interesting business tasks.
The vast majority of his points are off and have no real world practitioner’s basis for the conclusions except one.
“Instead of adding Facebook-like features that let users bite other users and turn them into zombies, the B2B site would get more sales by offering clear prices, good product photos, detailed specs, convincing whitepapers, an easily navigable information architecture... Before throwing spending money at 2.0 features, make sure that you have all the 1.0 requirements working to perfection.”
We in the digital world should take to heart. This was a good point but the way it is stated is a bit backwards and stated with the attitude of a dictator (someone who does not seek outside insights to find solutions to a problem) when getting to that conclusion, I have hard time taking the article seriously.
What Nielsen has managed to do with his latest post is prove that Web 1.0 guys who refuse to see the light of new consumer engagement models. Nielson proves the he cannot evolve with the help of insights and has inevitably become the old guy at the bar, trying to pick up women with bad pick-up lines. Simultaneously, AJAX practitioners are reaping the benefits of listening, changing practices to evolve with their audience (like any good partner should).
One of his arguments takes on profitability, which can be discredited by any number of profitable web companies that have been pushing the envelope of innovation.
Practitioners sound off... Do you think Jakob Nielsen's viewpoint keeps the industry from moving forward? Alternatively, does it keep us in a method that helped prove the demise of the 1.0 model?