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The Greatest Usability Story Of The Year

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peter van dijck

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User since: 22 Oct 1999

Articles written: 23

Can big, flash ads be the saviours of usability? Can they be the biggest usability story of the year?

Cnet redesigned its website and I am impressed. It is clean, it is usable, and it has a really great feature that I'll talk about later.

But first the homepage.

I really like the navigation, and the features at the right hand side. It says : "Today's hot topics", and each topic is only one (1) word. Like "Privacy." Or "Outages." Right underneath that is the search box. Obviously a lot of thought went into this redesign.

The new cool feature:

Big ads! Big Flash ads!

Why do I like them? Because you can have a little navigation within them, never have to leave the page, and then go on reading. It just fits with my browsing style. But I mainly like them because efforts like this may keep content sites in business. It's creative thinking.

I might not keep liking them though, maybe because I'll grow tired of them, maybe because people will abuse them. If such a big ad were really flashy that would be seriously annoying. I hope Cnet has a policy on the type of ads they accept.

Actually, I really like them because they clearly have thought about them: they are toned down, informational, there is a little explanation at the top about the fact that you don't leave the page (although that could be clearer), and check this: they change position. Sometimes they'll be at the left, sometimes at the right. That's clever, in a non-annoying way.

Why the greatest usability story of the year?

Cnet set standards! Only blue, underlined text links will take you out of the website. If other sites don't mess this up, (and chances are they won't, because the advertisers won't want to make two versions of their ads), then this can be the greatest one time usability improvement on the web ever (certainly greater than new monitors nobody can afford yet).

Am I the only one excited about this?


Peter Van Dijck is an Information Architect with an interest in localization, accessibility, content management systems and metadata.
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