15 February 2007

Adaptive Path president takes aim at Jakob Nielsen

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Jakob Nielsen
Peter Merholz, founder and president of the experience design consultancy Adaptive Path, thinks Jakob Nielsen is venturing into areas, such as ROI, he has no expertise in and harming the field of design with his “unsubstantiated crap”.

“[The] last straw is his latest essay, where he claims ‘In one example, a state agency could get an ROI of 22,000% by fixing a basic usability problem.’ If he hadn’t jumped the shark before, he really has now. He backs this outrageous claim with a remarkably naive cost-benefit analysis, the kind of financial fiddling that no serious finance director within any organization would believe. […]

“I wouldn’t write about it except that I fear that Jakob is turning into a pernicious force when it comes to advancing the field of design, because his reach means tens of thousands of people are reading this unsubstantiated crap. Such outrageous claims truly feel like the wild flailings of increasing irrelevance.

8 years ago, the web had two usability prophets – Jakob and Jared. Had you asked me to place bets on which one was worthier to follow, I would have said Jakob (UIE’s “Web Site Usability” book pissed me off). But in the last 4 or 5 years, Jakob has receded to the point of almost total irrelevance, whereas Jared and his gang are pursuing important and interesting questions, and never making specious claims about what they’ve found.”

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