• 1957
    (b.) - ?


A web usability consultant, 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 Bellcore (Bell Communications Research, Morristown, NJ) and at the IBM User Interface Institute at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center. 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, he 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. He holds 79 United States patents, mainly on ways of making the Web easier to use. He received his Ph.D. in Human?Computer Interaction (HCI) from the Technical University of Denmark in Copenhagen. He founded the "discount usability engineering" movement for fast and cheap improvements of user interfaces and has invented several usability methods, including heuristic evaluation; a usability inspection method for computer software that helps to identify usability problems in the user interface (UI) design. He 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. He has also defined the five quality components of his "Usability Goals", which are: Learnability, Efficiency, Memorability, Errors (as in low error rate), and Satisfaction. He 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. He has been quoted in the computing and the mainstream press for his criticism of Windows 8's user interface. Tom Hobbs, Creative Director of the design firm Teague, criticized what he perceived to be some of his points on the matter, and he responded with some clarifications. His 2012 guidelines that websites for mobile devices be designed separately from their desktop-oriented counterparts has come under fire from Webmonkey's Scott Gilbertson, as well as Josh Clark writing in .net magazine, and Opera's Bruce Lawson, writing in Smashing Magazine, and other technologists and web designers who advocate responsive web design. In an interview with .net magazine, he explained that he wrote his guidelines from a usability perspective, not from the viewpoint of implementation. In June 2000, he was inducted into the Scandinavian Interactive Media Hall of Fame; and in April 2006, he was inducted into the ACM Computer-Human Interaction Academy. In 2010, he was listed by Bloomberg Businessweek among 28 "World's Most Influential Designers". In recognition of his contributions to usability studies, he was the 2013 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Human?Computer Interaction Practice from SIGCHI, the premiere professional society in the HCI field. His published books include: Hypertext and Hypermedia (1990) (ISBN 0-12-518410-7); Usability Engineering (1993) (ISBN 0-12-518406-9); Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity (1999) (ISBN 1-56205-810-X); E-Commerce User Experience (2001) (ISBN 0-970-60720-2) (coauthors: Rolf Molich, Carolyn Snyder, Susan Farrell); Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed (2001) (ISBN 0-7357-1102-X) (coauthor: Marie Tahir); Prioritizing Web Usability (2006) (ISBN 0-321-35031-6) (coauthor: Hoa Loranger); Eyetracking Web Usability (2008) (ISBN 0-321-49836-4) (coauthor: Kara Pernice); and Mobile Usability (2012) (ISBN 0-321-88448-5) (coauthor: Raluca Budiu). A list of Jakob Nielsen's research publications is maintained at Interaction-Design.org. His journal editorial board memberships include: Behaviour & Information Technology, Foundations and Trends in Human-Computer Interaction, Interacting with Computers, Journal of Usability Studies (JUS), International Journal of Human-Computer Interaction, The New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia. In addition, he is on the editorial board of Morgan Kaufmann Publishers' book series in Interactive Technologies. He writes a fortnightly newsletter, Alertbox, on web design matters. After his regular articles on his website about usability research attracted media attention, he co-founded usability consulting company Nielsen Norman Group with fellow usability expert Dr. Donald A. Norman (former VP of research at Apple Computer).
  • Date of Birth:

  • Noted For:

    Founder of the "discount usability engineering" movement for fast and cheap improvements of user interfaces
  • Category of Achievement:

  • More Info: