Top Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2003

Sites are getting better at using minimalist design, maintaining archives, and offering comprehensive services. However, these advances entail their own usability problems, as several prominent mistakes from 2003 show. —Jakob NielsenTop Ten Web Design Mistakes of 2003 (Alertbox)

Usually Nielsen’s blurbs are more informative… the “summary” on his site reads more like a marketing tease. To give you a sense of what the page is like, I’ll have to collect the first 5 subheadings: “1. Unclear Statement of Purpopse,” “2. New URLs for Archived Content,” “3. Undated Content,” “4. Small Thumbnail Images of Big, Detailed Photos,” and “5. Overly detailed ALT Text.”

Since archived content, thumbnails and alt text (that’s the descriptive text that sometimes pops up near your mouse pointer, usually in a yellow box) are all good things, Nielsen’s observations are helpful for those who have implemented these good things in a less-than-optimal way. Observations six through nine are about information architecture, and thus not something my own students are likely to need; while the last item (warning designers about pages that link to themselves) is very relevant to my teaching of newbie web authors.