Ouch. Just judging by the comment threads on this blog you can see that this really has touched a nerve. You can read Todd Wilkens full visceral post here:
The basics are this – in art we look for moments of wonder, not that just the mundane prerequisites have been met. A book should be ground-breaking, not just readable. The problem with usability is that it concentrates too heavily on the ‘readable’ at the expense of the ethereal.
This seems to have incurred the wrath of a large sections of the usability crowd.
If asked a month ago, I would have agreed wholeheartedly with Todd. One of the most popular sites in the US has one of the least usable interfaces – I’m thinking of Myspace. Google was also championed as a usability leader, although to my knowledge, when Google began, they did little in the way of a usability study – they just decided to keep things simple. That interface has hardly changed since it’s inception (although now Google does have a more robust usability team). By contrast Yahoo was using usability advice to work in all the myriad apps it wanted to become a portal – an approach which finally cost it, in terms of rankings as a leading search site.
One thing has changed my previous standpoint – the growth of Facebook over Myspace. Although there are key features that separate the two social networking sites, surely one of the factors that has led to Facebook’s rise must be the easy of interface and the way you can quickly create a good looking profile. Let the usability debate flame on…