Re: Neilsen makes sense but not amends

Subject: Re: Neilsen makes sense but not amends
From: Chris Gooch <chris -dot- gooch -at- lightworkdesign -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 29 Jul 2003 11:06:03 +0100

Goober wrote:

Much of what [Nielsen] condemns is a result of bad authoring, and
much of his "solution" discussions are, at least for
me, "Duh" statements.

Of course you should tell users the link is to a PDF,
and of course you should put the filesize info next to
the link (I think # of pages is somewhat irrlevant
though, possibly not in some cased). But, you know, it
all comes down to common sense and common courtesy.

This is right I think. Nielsen's advice to put an html front
page with links to the pdfs along with information about
those pdfs, links to several small pdfs and the option to
download the whole thing, and advice on how to read them,
is of course a Good Thing (also rather an Obvious Thing
I'd say).

But then in usual bombastic style he drops something like
this on you:

Consider adding instructions for how to download the PDF file without the
annoyance of having it open in the browser. Unfortunately, this is difficult
for average users to do with current technology; it would be nice if there
were a special type of link that would always download a file rather than
displaying it.

(my emphasis)

Well, of course there is such a way; provide a link to a .zip file,
duh! It's not rocket science.

The trouble with Nielsen isn't so much what he says,
but the slavish way some people will follow his advice as
though they are rules from on high, without thinking
whether they apply in particular cases, what the least
of two evils may be in a particular situation, and so
on, and design things accordingly.

Christopher Gooch, Technical Author
LightWork Design, Sheffield, UK.
SIGGRAPH 2003...Booth 3431...San Diego, California...29-31 July 2003


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