Businesses should beware of adding too many Web 2.0 features to their websites, and instead concentrate on getting the basics of user experience right.

This is the view of web usability guru Jakob Nielsen, who argues in his latest post that, while features like user reviews can benefit consumers, others can make sites overly complicated.

According to Nielsen:

"While a modest 2.0 infusion can be beneficial, advanced features are rarely the most important contributor to good user experience or profitable websites."

"If you get caught up in the hype, you divert attention and resources from the simpler things that really matter. This opportunity cost is the real reason to take it easy on Web 2.0."

The nub of his argument is that the average internet user doesn't necessarily know how to use all these new features, so can easily become frustrated on such sites.

While AJAX can increase response times for users, Nielsen argues that many users aren't familiar with the technology, and this can cause problems on e-commerce sites. 

AJAX shopping carts, for instance, can be abandoned because users don't understand them. He recommends sticking to more simple designs.

The same goes for user-generated content - while this can be very can be very useful on e-commerce sites, with Amazon's reviews being the prime example, these features are unnecessary on many sites.

Nielsen recommends the following ratios of Web 2.0 features for different types of websites:

  • Informational/Marketing website- 10%
  • E-commerce sites - 20%
  • Media sites - 30%
  • Intranets - 40%
  • Applications - 50%

Related stories:
Interview with Jakob Nielsen
Jakob Nielsen and Google on collision course  

Related research:
Online Retail 2007: Checkout Special

Graham Charlton

Published 19 December, 2007 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (2)


Kaya PPC, Internet Marketing Manager at Optimised Media

If we listened to Jakob Nielsen's thoughts from the earliest days of the net we would still have the most basic of sites. In my opinion usability is crucial but maybe not as black and white as he thinks. If some sites don't push design barriers web use will never progress.


over 10 years ago


Peter Dunkley, director at depo consulting ltd

I'm broadly with Jakob on this - keeping it simple is key. Unless you value your gizmos higher than your customers' business, of course. If you want to push design do it in those areas where you have savvy users. All new technologies and techniques should be thought through in terms of their impact on the customer, of course.

over 10 years ago

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