The Jakob meme

So looking at Michael's recent post about Jakob's report on, I thought 'man - Jakob has been on a lot' Wonder just how much lately? This much.

Now that's interesting - 1 article in 2001, and now 4 in the first half...
Here's the 64 dollar question: Is mainstream media picking up on Jakob? Or on usability and design? The cynic in me mutters that the mainstream media think they're getting usability when they cover the NNgroup...but the idealist in me says that it's better than nothing...

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That's not all....

Actually Jess, Jakob's been in more than 4 articles on in 2002. The number seemed a bit low, so I dug deeper.

A search for "Jakob Nielsen" missed this article from May 9 about usability for children, for example. A search for "Nielsen" doesn't work well because it pulls up every article with Nielsen/NetRatings (which is a lot, and searching for "Nielsen -NetRatings" doesn't work). A search for usability has about 20 results from 2002; about half of those focus on usability (the other half just give it cursory mention), and about half of the ones that focus on usability have Nielsen as the major source/subject.

You asked: "Is the mainstream media picking up on Jakob? Or on usability and design?" In the words of Grandpa Simpson, I'd say a little from column A, a little from column B. Do you know of any other usability practitioners/gurus who have a PR firm working for them? I think that has a lot to do with it.

I think it's good for people who don't have usability on their radar. Having C|Net or Business 2.0 focus a big article on usability helps reach a different audience than weblogs and online magazines. At the same time, many people have been turned off by usability because Jakob's writings and interviews come off as dogmatic, and (relating to the original topic of this post) his almost-comedic ubiquity doesn't help either.

When other "usability personalities" (Don Norman, Jared Spool, Steve Krug) are featured in the press, they seem to be received just as well by those not in the usability camp but don't suffer the wrath of the anti-Jakob clans.

I think Jakob is good for the profession. With his books, columns and reports, he has done an excellent job publicizing and evangalizing the discipline and showing that it is not just worthwhile but nearly essential. The problem comes when people equate Jakob with usability (which is like saying Bill Gates = software development), think that he is the "inventor" of the craft (and the only one practicing it), and/or don't listen to anything he says because (for whatever reason) they were turned off by him at one or more points in the past.

Maybe we need to get a PR firm behind our evangelists

Jeff, I agree that Jakob has been good for usability. The very fact that his writing is prominently published in mainstream business media such as in Business 2.0 has been good for drawing attention to the need for making corporate web sites usable, and it is marketed to the right people -- business decision makers/middle and upper managers. This is where we need to sell the value of IA. Articles in New Architect, in online journals, etc. are nice because they are read by our peers. But we don't need to focus so much on preaching to the choir about he value of IA, we need to preach to the purse holders, who are NOT our peers.

So let's get PR firms behind our big-picture IA writers and we'll all benefit from the Jakob-type attention.

He's back...

Jakob's back on in this June 7, 2002 article about Yahoo's homepage design. I probably shouldn't get in the habit of posting another comment here every time Jakob is featured in an article, since that could get rather laborious. Maybe this common occurance should be added to the Jakob Nielsen drinking game.