Real world usability rules

On the other side of the usability coin is practical usability -- the kind where one considers the spirit of a rule and makes informed judgements on their own. A good summary of how to interpret the usability gurus is on Christina Wodtke's elegant hack in an entry titled, "The Rules". I think that the usability evangelists like Nielsen make statements that tend to sound like laws, but that they might argue that the rules based on their research are meant to be broken when logic indicates that some bending is needed.