Interview with Vincent Flanders

SitePoint interviewed Vincent Flanders, creator of Web Pages that Suck to find out who this "self-proclaimed 'marketing weasel who likes shiny things'" is and what he knows about web site usability.

A: nothing

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I think Vincent Flanders sucks...

He has no qualifications to talk about usability or design.

See longer rant here:
http://crocolyle.blogspot.com/2002_04_21_crocolyle_archive.html#75838500

Lyle
Croc O' Lyle

the suckmaster has spoken

So the answers to the question, "who this marketing weasel is and what he knows about usability", are "no one" and "nothing". I like his blanket statements, e.g. "Designers don't like usability because making a site usable is boring". When he talks about usability, it's with wishy washy regurgitations sampled from here and there. And his predictions are just precious. He's a marketing person, not a designer or usability professional. Yet he enjoys walking into those houses and telling the inabitants how to go about their business! Nice. I wouldn't want to be that kind of person. But he's a self-proclaimed weasel, so I guess he thinks it's ok.

I have to admit to never looking at his site for more than a few minutes in my short career, having preferred to be inspired by the sites that find innovative uses of web technology (the old Project Cool, perfect.co.uk, linkdup, etc.) rather than criticizing. Those that can... do. Those that can't... make sites like Web Pages That Suck (not that I like to criticize design much, but it is very amateurishly and suckishly designed).

So am I adding to noise by linking to it?

Corporate Sites?

I can't seem to find a site praising attritbutes of corporate web sites (rather than artsy, music, etc. sites). Any suggestions of where to look? Thanks.

Good design examples

Not sure if it's exactly what you're looking for, but the "Design Not Found" site has both good and bad examples...might want to check that out.

Lyle
Croc O' Lyle

Vincent Flanders != usability

I never really got into the whole "Web Pages that Suck" thing, so I don't know a whole lot about Flanders, but I never considered him to be a usability guy. To me, he was a level-headed, common sense pragmatist who focused on finding faults in self-indulgent and just plain bad design. I never thought "That Flanders, he knows a lot about usability"; I thought, "That guy is doing a good job showing why those pages are bad."

I read the interview, and I read what Lyle wrote. I think I'm halfway in between. I don't think he knows nothing about usability, but he clearly knows more than the average web user.

The thing I like about him is that he understands (to some extent) that usability is not a goal in and of itself. The story in the article about the dentist with a Flash site who got $10,000 a week with new business was a good example. A hard-to-use site accomplished the client's goal. Now, granted, a usable, accessible site could have as well, possibly for a smaller cost and in less time, but we'll never know.

As Flanders himself admits, "I'm not tied to the cult of the artist or the cult of usability." He's a marketing guy, and marketing guys are from the cult of business, and in the cult of business, profit is mantra #1. That's not a bad thing, it's a fact. I for one find it refreshing that a fairly well-known person from the cult of business is an outspoken advocate for good, easy-to-understand design.

I'd agree with pragmatist...but

Jeff,

If Flanders was presented as a "level-headed, common sense pragmatist", I could buy into that. Much of what he says is sensible and pragmatic. The problem is that he poses as and blatantly calls himself a "usability expert" and is presented as a "usability guru" by interviewers/press. That I can't buy.

He's a marketing/technology guy who has some good criticisms of bad designs -- that doesn't make him a "usability guru". By "no qualifications" I mean that he hasn't demonstrated that he knows anything specifically about usability -- he tends to talk about issues related to graphic design and use of too much technical "wiz-bang" stuff. He rarely talks about page layout, information architecture, interaction design, or other HCI or usability related topics. Do the things he criticizes impact site usability? Sure -- but calling him a usability guru just cheapens the idea of usability as a discipline that requires real training and experience.

Lyle
Croc O' Lyle