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Web 2.0 – Can/Will It Be Bad For Usability?


A very interesting article on Usability News has been published quite recently entitled Web 2.0 ‘distracts good design’ which raises a very interesting point:

As web 2.0 technologies become more mainstream, there is a clear risk that in turn this will result in poor usability practices and user experiences

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A parallel that I can draw from this is based on my experience as lead user experience designer at Littlewoods Shop Direct. Having worked as an offline print designer for 3 years, when I started work in the e-commerce team in 2000, I was able to gain a solid understanding of the differences between offline and online design. During the next 6 years, as the web become more popular, more offline graphic designers and agencies made the move into the online arena, but in the rush to produce exceptional online design work, focused on highly visual and creative solutions rather than the user experience and whether the site is usable.

On the 1 hand there are lots of examples of how web 2.0 can be used to provide compelling, rich and user friendly solutions, a large selection which can be seen over at the SEO Mozs’ web 2.0 awards.

On the other hand I do agree with the Usability News article (and more specifically Jakob Nielsen) that we will see executions of web 2.0 functionality and interaction which unfortunately fails to provide good user experiences.

As yet the current wave of web 2.0 sites have been developed using highly talented user interface designers alongside strong technical developers, but I don’t think it will be too long that the same technical developers will be asked to develop solutions from less experienced ‘print-to-web’ designers who perhaps have less groundings in the principles of good usability and user experience.

Personally speaking (through PRWD) I am starting to work on projects which will benefit from web 2.0 developments and user interactions (with a complete focus on the user experience), and I look forward to sharing these on this blog.

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