Usability and design

Usability fail: – the new Times Premium Content site

A few months back, you may remember the heads-up that Murdoch was going to make parts of the Times newspaper website pay-per-click. Essentially, requiring paid-for subscription to access news material (exclusives, popular, etc.). We will refer to this content as ‘premium content’.

Usability and design

Password masking – the debate begins (Reflections on Jakob Nielsen)

Jakob Nielsen is a highly regarded usability expert. His recent Alertbox article (I’m sure he wouldn’t want to call it a blog post) entitled Stop Password Masking, is certainly going to cause a stir in the web community. He proposes that masked passwords (when you type in a password field on the web it only shows bullets or asterisks), are essentially not user-friendly. I for one do not see the web community suddenly abandoning masked password fields. There’s a familiarity with them, they’re like PIN numbers on ATM cash machines.


Curve of clarity: Picking the right keywords

Choosing the right words to fill your webpage, or keywords for your ad campaigns can sometimes be hit or miss. Using the ‘curve of clarity’ as an idea, you should be able to choose appropriate keywords to maximise seo efficiency and also the readability and relevance of your site.

Key principles

  1. Words in common usage have high numbers of search engine results.
  2. Words which are specialist have lower numbers of search engine results.
  3. Marketese words, or words which mean one thing but are given a different meaning for marketing, business lingo or general jargon, have high search engine results when searching those terms, but low search engine presence when searching for the term those words actually mean in plain English. (See also: Plain English to help SEO and note that marketese increases bounce rates)


  1. cat: 905,000,000 results.
  2. abyssinian: 985,000 results.
  3. lap warmer: 62,800 results.

Curve of Clarity

 The curve of clarity has an arbitary scale, but you’ll get the general idea:

Usability and design

Usability and SEO of hyperlinks and link text (Reflections on Jakob Nielsen)

Jakob Nielsen is proclaimed as the guru of web usability, analysing and writing about usability and SEO methods any web designer, developer or author can apply to their site. He is both adored and panned by the web community for his insightful and informative, but hideously designed website*. Ranked very highly in the community, his work (when you ignore the shameless promotion of his pricey conferences, reports and books) quite often presents a particular argument followed by a very short counter-argument.