Jakob Nielsen (usability consultant)

Jakob Nielsen (usability consultant)
Jakob Nielsen

Jakob Nielsen
Born October 5, 1957 (1957-10-05) (age 54)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Occupation Web usability consultant

Jakob Nielsen (born 1957 in Copenhagen, Denmark) is a leading web usability consultant.[1] He holds a Ph.D. in human–computer interaction from the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen.


Early life and background

Nielsen's earlier affiliations include Bellcore (now Telcordia Technologies) (Bell Communications Research), the Technical University of Denmark, and the IBM User Interface Institute at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center.


Sun Microsystems

From 1994 to 1998 he was a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer. He was hired to make heavy-duty enterprise software easier to use, since large-scale applications had been the focus of most of his projects at the phone company and IBM. But luckily the job definition of a Distinguished Engineer is "you're supposed to be the world's leading expert in your field, so you figure out what would be most important for the company for you to work on." Therefore, Dr. Nielsen ended up spending most of his time at Sun defining the emerging field of web usability. He was the usability lead for several design rounds of Sun's website and intranet (SunWeb), including the original SunWeb design in 1994.

Current activities

Nielsen is on the editorial board of Morgan Kaufmann Publishers' book series in Interactive Technologies.

Nielsen continues to write a newsletter on web design matters and has published several books on the subject of web design. After his regular articles on his Web site about usability research attracted media attention, he subsequently co-founded usability consulting company Nielsen Norman Group with fellow usability expert Donald Norman.


Nielsen founded the "discount usability engineering" movement for fast and cheap improvements of user interfaces and has invented several usability methods, including heuristic evaluation. He holds 79 United States patents, mainly on ways of making the Web easier to use.

Nielsen gave his name to Nielsen's Law, in which he stated that network connection speeds for high-end home users would increase 50% per year, or double every 21 months. As a corollary, he noted that as this growth rate is slower than the Moore's Law growth in processor power, user experience would remain bandwidth-bound.[2]

Nielsen has also given his five quality components of Usability Goals, which are:

Learnability, Efficiency, Memorability, Errors (as in low error rate), Satisfaction.[3]


Nielsen has been criticized by some graphic designers[4][5] for failing to balance the importance of other user experience considerations such as eye appeal.


His published books include:

Nielsen publishes a biweekly column, Alertbox ISSN 1548-5552, on current issues in usability. A list of Jakob Nielsen's research publications is maintained at Interaction-Design.org

See also


  1. ^ Study Shows People Ignore Generic Photos Online New York Times November 2, 2010
  2. ^ Nielsen, Jakob (1998-04-05). "Nielsen's Law of Internet Bandwidth". http://www.useit.com/alertbox/980405.html. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  3. ^ Nielsen, Jakob (1994). Usability Engineering. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. ISBN 0-12-518406-9. 
  4. ^ Usability News "The Backlash against Jakob Nielsen and What it Teaches Us", July 31, 2002
  5. ^ Curt Cloninger "Usability experts are from Mars, graphic designers are from Venus" July 28, 2000

External links

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