Jakob Nielsen on web headlines

Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman Group is perhaps the guru of web usability. He’s impressed with the web headline writers at BBC News and identifies several essentials for effective web headlines which should be:

  • short (because people don’t read much online);
  • rich in information scent, clearly summarizing the target article;
  • front-loaded with the most important keywords (because users often scan only the beginning of list items);
  • understandable out of context (because headlines often appear without articles, as in search engine results); and
  • predictable, so users know whether they’ll like the full article before they click (because people don’t return to sites that promise more than they deliver).

Yes, that’s an old article (27 April 2009), but the Nielsen Norman Group recirculated it only a few weeks ago as an “Alertbox” message (a weekly email on user experience).

Accessibility: A is blind; B fell down; C has a blood cancer….

Anne Gibson offers this poignant reminder that many people have some disability or reduced capacity – something to mind when composing a website, app, text message, email or chatting, etc.: An Alphabet of Accessibility Issues.

An excerpt from a question and answer session with Jon Wiley, Principal Designer of Google Search.

Reddit presents this online conversation with Jon Wiley, Principal Designer of Google Search. This is just one catchy extract, but good design can save a human life.


Hi, Jon. Thanks for the AMA [Ask Me Anything] and for your work on the Google Maps app! I use it all the time. Any chance you guys can make the app save my “Avoid tolls” preference like the old version did? I recently moved right next to a toll road and honestly avoid using voice recognition because it always tries to use the toll route. Thank you again :)


I use this feature, too. We’re looking for ways to try to make this work the right way. Like many design problems, this one has edge cases which are important to get right. Imagine that you checked the “Avoid tolls” preference and Maps saved the preference. Later, you tap on the mic and say “Navigate to the hospital!” and Maps takes you the long way. Probably not what you wanted. We need to think through all of the cases and make sure we ship the right design.

Yet another unsolicited redesign proposal for Wikipedia

Wikipedia is often the subject of unsolicited redesign proposals, as its entry for unsolicited redesigns notes:

Unsolicited redesigns of popular websites are extremely common, especially as student projects or tools to fill out a design portfolio. As a top ten website, Wikipedia has been subject to this phenomenon many times. Since these are redesigns of a site that everyone uses, they often get picked up by blogs [boldface mine].

1910 is a Swedish graphic design and art direction studio working with brands, games and web. Its blog offers this unsolicited redesign proposal for Wikipedia: A Readable Wikipedia.

1910's unsolicited redesign proposal for Wikipedia.

View of the unsolicited redesign proposal for Wikipedia from 1910 Design & Communication.

iWatch mockups

I suppose I have several posts on smartwatches because they involve three of my interests: responsive design, user interface (UI) design and user experience (UX) design. Here are some luscious presentations of what Apple’s iWatch – which Apple may introduce in 2014 as an accessory to the iPhone – may look like and offer, the first from Thomas Bogner, the second from Todd Hamilton.

Thomas Bogner's iWatch mock-up.

Thomas Bogner’s iWatch mock-up.

Todd Hamilton's iWatch mock-up.

Todd Hamilton’s iWatch mock-up.

Information design: a good graphic transmits information faster than… a PowerPoint display

The graphic below on What Makes [US] Health Care So Expensive? from Time.com (20 Feb 2013) is compact and content-rich. How many slides and how much more time would be needed were PowerPoint chosen to transmit the information?

What Makes [US] Health Care So Expensive?

What Makes [US] Health Care So Expensive?