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The UI, UX and DQ of #London2012

Monday, 30 July, 2012

A great event demands great respect and that’s what the great Dane, Jakob Nielsen, brought to the table before writing his latest column, “Official Olympic Website: UI Silver — but UX DQ“. The godfather of website usability applies his trained eye to the official site for the 2012 London games and gives Lord Coe & Co. a silver medal for their user interface efforts. “It’s particularly impressive,” he says, “that the London site caters to the typically overlooked low-literacy users who constitute 43% of the population.” But Jakob rarely gives unstinted praise. “Unfortunately, this material is in PDF files, which are unsuitable for online information,” he adds, with a sting.

Olympic gold For those not used to the jargon, UI means “user interface”, UX is “user experience”, PDF is “Portable Document Format” and DQ is “disqualification.” At the weekend, Reuters reported, “Park reinstated after DQ, Phelps survives“. The story had a happy end for the South Korean, Park Tae-hwan, as he won silver in the finals of the 400-metres race. For Michael Phelps there was no medal joy in the pool on Saturday night. He’ll have to up his game. “I want to see 90% compliance with usability guidelines before parting with a gold medal,” says Nielsen. It’s tough at the top.

Talking of gold, the London 2012 medals are the largest ever in terms of both weight and diameter — almost double the size of the medals from Beijing in 2008, but the 2012 gold contains 92.5 percent silver, 6.16 copper and just 1.34 percent gold. So, for all that sweat and blood and drugs, er, training, those incredible Chinese swimmers get just six grams of gold. Down at the pawn shop, that will fetch about $500 (£318). Still, it’s a lot better than the bronze medal, which is 97 percent copper, 2.5 percent zinc and 0.5 percent tin. Worth $3 (£1.90), it will buy neither fish nor chips in London.


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