Jakob Nielsen (usability consultant)

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Jakob Nielsen
Jakob Nielsen 1.jpg
Jakob Nielsen
Born (1957-10-05) October 5, 1957 (age 56)
Copenhagen, Denmark
Occupation Web usability consultant

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


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.[citation needed]


Sun Microsystems[edit]

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.[2]

Other activities[edit]

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

Nielsen writes a fortnightly newsletter, Alertbox, 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 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, since this growth rate is slower than that predicted by Moore's Law of processor power, user experience would remain bandwidth-bound.[3]

Nielsen has also defined the five quality components of his "Usability Goals", which are:[4]

  • Learnability
  • Efficiency
  • Memorability
  • Errors (as in low error rate)
  • Satisfaction

Nielsen has been criticized by some graphic designers for failing to balance the importance of other user experience considerations such as typography, readability, visual cues for hierarchy and importance, and eye appeal.[5][6]


His published books include:

A list of Jakob Nielsen's research publications is maintained at Interaction-Design.org

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Study Shows People Ignore Generic Photos Online New York Times November 2, 2010
  2. ^ Nielsen, Jakob. http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=256718. Retrieved 19 February 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Nielsen, Jakob (1998-04-05). "Nielsen's Law of Internet Bandwidth". Retrieved 2014-07-02. 
  4. ^ Nielsen, Jakob (1994). Usability Engineering. Morgan Kaufmann Publishers. ISBN 0-12-518406-9. 
  5. ^ Usability News "The Backlash against Jakob Nielsen and What it Teaches Us" at the Wayback Machine (archived December 9, 2002), July 31, 2002
  6. ^ Curt Cloninger "Usability experts are from Mars, graphic designers are from Venus" July 28, 2000

External links[edit]