The useit.com challenge

Just scanned over all the entries for a challenge to redesign “information architect” Jakob Nielsen’s 1995 inspired website, useit.com. Looking over the entries, 95% are uninspiring. Seems like most contestents just rearraged stuff on the page but pretty much kept the exact same structure. My favorite completely wrong elements: search front and center and highlighting text (sample). Highlighting search makes complete sense for a site like Amazon or Ebay where the number one use case is searching. But do people really visit useit to search? It’s a valid use case but certainly not primary. And highlighting text is obniouxous and generally unhelpful. A few buttons, fine. But I’ve never seen the usefulness in highlighting text links.

Seems to me that recent news (alert box, external links, new books, new reports) is the reason folks would visit Jakob’s site. A simple two or three column blog type format would work perfect. If I were to pick a winner of the entries, I’d choose Kraftsman, by Michael Pick, minus the alertbox and news images. I’d also make the whole main column a blog format (title + text). Recent categorized posts could be shown in the right nav and the rest archived. Throw search somewhere at the bottom of the page. Done. Here’s a few more example sites that useit could be modeled after (Textism, Hivelogic). Finally (of course), his site should be syndicated. Crazy that it’s not.

Jacob looks like to me he’s still stuck in the 90’s. Reminds me of myself not just three months ago :-).

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