According to Nielson's web site user interface usability is higher for intranets than for the internet. The reason for this lies in the intranets usability design and in the fact that an intranet is controlled and a user won't find themselves at a dead link, or fraudulent site (as can happen on the internet). According to Nielson's website (useit.com) the internet "is the interface to a vast amount of information, and so the emphasis must be on usability".
According to Frank Spiller (Spiller, 2004) Jakob Nielson "promotes best practices, he preaches obedience to his guidelines and when he postulates opinions they are interpreted as instructions". Spiller argues that Nielson may be interpreted wrongly and when translated, from the Danish, meanings get lost or misunderstood. The translations do sound a bit egocentric as Nielson declares that: "In the future, first of all, websites will be designed by my guidelines". It is here that the argument moves away from usability into the realm of personality and professional ethics problems (Spiller, 2004). Nielson comes across as flamboyant and arrogant. He often cites his work a "we" but doesn't mention the others he is working with. His professional ethics have been questioned on some occasions. ...
For example, he charges 35,000 for a half day consulting appearance while claiming that usability is the least expensive way to go (Spiller, 2004).
There are many arguments against usability as introduced by Jakob Nielson that include: Who will pilot a new usability program Who will mandate the standards and ensure compliance What will happen to those who choose not to follow Nielson's standards Will their websites be denied web access Will those trying to access denied sites be redirected to another web address Any mandated plan will need to be well thought out. Perhaps Nielson needs to visit the Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington and/or other sites that study web interface and usability. Nielson may need to see that he is not the only one working on usability. Perhaps a collaborative effort of professionals creating website guidelines would be more widely accepted than guidelines set by one person.
Nielson's work has been interpreted as contrary to popular web design. Nielson was quoted saying "Websites must tone down their individual appearance and distinct design in all ways (Nielson, 2000):
terminology and labeling
interaction design and workflow
His comments were interpreted as meaning that web designers need not design anymore because it hurts the usability of websites.
There are other organizations that have conducted usability studies and some have set standards based upon those studies. Institutions and individuals are very capable of drafting in-house guidelines when it comes to intranet and internet websites. The National Institutes of Health and Human Services (NIHHS) Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines website