The End of Usability Culture (10 Nov 2004)
As another example, last year I was consulting for a major software company, and we put printouts of the home page for every major player in their industry on poster boards. From only a modest distance, our team could not make out which site belonged to which company. We had to look hard at the small logos tucked predictably in the upper left corner to figure it out, despite having spent time on all the sites in the past.
What were these companies spending their Web development dollars on? Their sites had good architecture, followed standards, and generally worked well. Like so many companies over the past five years, they invested in the more analytical, scientific, quantitative elements of Web design, those that have risen to the fore through usability culture. And the trend came through loud and clear, with one boring, plain, expressionless site after the other. In industry after industry we can see the same thing. The limited degree of innovation, flair or creativity is numbing. And it is a trend that seeps into consumer companies as well as those in more traditional business spaces. Clearly, something has to change.
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