Google Blogoscoped

Monday, March 14, 2005

Nielsen on Lower-Literacy Users

Jakob Nielsen tells how to optimize a site for lower-literacy users, and argues this also increases readability for higher-literacy users.

“Unlike higher-literacy users, lower-literacy users don’t scan text. As a result, for example, they can’t quickly glance at a list of navigation options to select the one they want. They must read each word in each option carefully. Their only other choice is to completely skip over large amounts of information, which they often do when things become too complicated.”


Search creates problems for lower-literacy users for two reasons. First, they often have difficulty spelling the query terms. Second, they have difficulty processing search results, which typically show weird, out-of-context snippets of text. As a result, lower-literacy users often simply pick the first hit on the list, even if it’s not the most appropriate for their needs.”

Blog Idea: Ask Companies to Send Free Stuff

Here’s an idea for a blog. On items (milk cartons, candy bars), at least here in Germany, there’s an address. One can write to this address and ask for goodies to be sent over, to be then photographed and published in a weblog. Standard form letters can be prepared and snail mailed. The domain should be something like (or in Germany, – both domains are still free). And here’s why this is a win-win-win situation:

  1. The company gets free viral marketing mojo.
  2. The blog is fun to read to see how companies react (are they cheap, or going over the edge with their gift?).
  3. For the blog author, the effort in preparing letters and sorting out goodies is rewarded by, well, keeping those goodies.

Update: Iolaire McFadden liked the idea and reserved

Writer Angry, Found Love

“Aspiring young Colorado writer John Simmers is angry because he found true love.” More at FakeToday.

Sharing Customized Google News

Jeremy Zawodny, who works at Yahoo (and has an entertaining link blog), does a little Google bashing now and then. This time he says Google News customization is useless because you cannot share your settings between different computers. Of course you can; you can simply send yourself the custom URL at the bottom of the page. That’s how I created the same Google News at work, and at home, with a single click; as bonus, I could offer it to everyone reading my blog (plus, I didn’t have to login anywhere).

After being told about the customization link, Jeremy insists the “link is clearly targeted at sharing, [not] as a way to save my settings for myself.” (The link is labeled “Share your customized news with a friend” – which goes to show it’s never good to use verbs as anchor text.)
Jeremy still makes one valid point about Google News: “It’s beta. And it has been for years.” And the longer it stays beta, the more silly it makes Google look.


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