Summary: Questioning Jakob Nielsen’s recent advice about competitor data and his advice to patent usability best practices.
• "The reason this logic doesn't follow for many software engineers and software patents, is that the stuff that gets patented is sometimes simple, and a horrible waste of cycles and time happens globally as people work around the patents".
• "Usability is required on *all* sites, not just the ones that have the resources to patent everything".
In case you missed the big news in the last few weeks, there is a new anti-spam law that was enacted on January 1st 2004. The rules for sending email have changed. Marketing Sherpa has a good summary:
Update Memo: CAN-SPAM Good News & Bad,
Bad, Bad, Bad News
SUMMARY: We just spent two and a half hours quizzing the FTC's attorney on exactly how the new law affects emailers. Here's a quick, handy round-up for you:
Good news: It's fairly easy to comply with message content.
Bad News #1: It's hard to comply with opt-out rules. Welcome to suppression file hell...
Bad News #2: The law applies to more types of organizations and email than you think.
Bad News #3: There's no "grace period."
Bad News #4: And, almost anyone can sue you.
If you're using a search solution on your website (Ask Jeeves, EasyAsk, Google, Inktomi, Mercado, Verity etc) or simply offer a search interface that users can find products, information or documents with-- you may be missing the main feature that will make it work (and give you the return on investment you want): Search Interface and Search Results Usability.
The search interface runs into these typical problems that most people don't consider when shopping for a search solution:
1) Search Interface: how the database works typically defines how the search interface will look (see the "Boolean logic" and "Natural Language" issues below)