Blog Usability

A JoelOnSoftwarepost from a few days ago led me to a recent Jakob Nielson pieceon weblogusability. Jakob, as you probably know, is considered ausability expert, and his works are often used to buttress andjustify design and user interface choices (such as what Joel didfor his redesign). Of course Jakob has his detractors too: Thosewho believe that he’s preaching the obvious, doing so from apretty shoddy soapboax noless.

Personally I’ve enjoyed reading Jakob’s work. Even when they’repainfully obvious it helps bring usability to forefront.

One of his weblog usabilitypoints I’m not so sure about, though – 2. No AuthorPhoto (I’d link to the specific point but Jakob doesn’tuse internal anchors). The reason I’m on the fence about it isn’tthat I fear my ghastly image getting out (in fact I’ve posted it before.That one is a couple of years old), but rather that I think it istoo vulnerable to people’s innate tendency to stereotype – Ican say firsthand that I’ve gone to a couple of blogs and have putthe author’s words into the voice of a certain strata of societyand personality types based upon their picture, usually based onformer coworkers or schoolmates. I know I should be reading thewords for what they are, along with the proven history of theauthor, but instead I’m subconsciously imagining someone abrasivelygoing against the grain just to be trouble, because that’s what Iremember about someone they resemble.

It just seems like an irrelevant piece of information that doesmore harm than good.

So I put it to you, fair readers: Are pictures-of-the-author onblogs beneficial or detrimental?