Nielsen says simplicity rules the Web

In Archive by Fredy Ore

Jakob Nielsen in this week’s Alertbox comments on why simplicity rules the World Wide Web. Low end media (text & graphics) can have superior benefits at times over rich-media.

Simplicity when used in low-end media has the benefit of User Empowerment says Nielsen, as it encourages user satisfaction and the feeling of control.

I agree with his statement to some extent, although I feel that simplicity benefits both low and rich-media and has it’s advantages in some circumstances.
Minimalist design for documentation and
Minimalist Design for the Semantic Web idea is an example of this.

There are exceptions to the rule says Jakob Nielsen, which include Newsletters and Internet Applications.

Fancy media on websites typically fails user testing. Simple text and clear photos not only communicate better with users, they also enhance users’ feeling of control and thus support the Web’s mission as an instant gratification environment.

Almost every Web usability study we’ve ever conducted found that low-end media forms are superior to high-end media forms. Even the few exceptions to these findings confirm the phenomenon underlying low-end media’s superiority: users want to be in control.

Nielsen, J. (April 21, 2003) Low-End Media for User Empowerment [Online] Available:

The problem which influences usability study is that there is a hell of a lot of poor use of multimedia and rich-media applications out there, that do not consider or look at usability concerns of users.

Further Reading:
1. The Intelligent Design Movement
2. Amidst a tangled Web – Minimalist Design
3. Minimalist Web Projects
4. Minimalism in Art – A historical overview