Nielsen Norman Group is a user experience consulting firm founded by world-renowned UX gurus Jakob Nielsen and Don Norman. They have since been joined by Bruce “Tog” Tognazzini, whose book Tog on Interface inspired me to pursue this career so long ago.

As the interaction designer...

One of the first things I did was redesign NN/g’s website, which looked suspiciously like Jakob’s Alertbox website. Jakob recognized that the corporate site needed a more sophisticated design, but one that respected the usability principles for which he is so well-known.

The redesign involved

  • surveying existing content
  • producing a new site information architecture
  • creating templates for different page types
The refactored content led to a more scalable structure and navigation. 2 and 3-column designs were produced, as well as a standard way for each principal to link their individual sites together. Judicious use of colors and images combined with more interesting layouts led to a richer and more polished feel.

The original corporate site


The final redesign


As the webmaster...

I worked with NN/g and their regional conference planners to design and maintain the Usability Week conference website. With a rolling set of locations, each with a slate of full-day UX and usability, this website allows attendees to browse, register, and pay.

There were 3 main user roles to consider:

  • Attendees: These are the folks browsing and registering. They need bread-and-butter web e-commerce usability.

  • Speakers: These are the folks doing keynotes, or leading tutorials. They’re responsible for providing a description of their course and an outline of the topics. With upwards of 20 tutorials per week-long event, and all being busy, wrangling this info was sometimes a project management job in itself.

  • Planners: These are the folks who handle all the planning and logistics to make the event happen, as well as NN/g itself. They needed regular registration reports, which were accessible via a secure backend interface and data feed.


Location Page: Each location has detail pages that describe the agenda, pricing, and information about the area.


Tutorial Description: Each tutorial or event that is offered at the conference has a detail page that provides an overview of objectives, outline, and the intended audience, as well as bios of the speakers.


Progressive disclosure? In some locations, conference planners handle hotel reservations. In those locations, the UI enables or disables the relevant inputs based on whether the user wants to have their accommodations handled as part of registration or not. We chose to disable the elements rather than hide them because it felt more stable. So, in this case, we opted to not use progressive disclosure.


E-commerce (or “pay me now!”) The scariest part of the registration process is the contact and billing information page. Its appearance varies based on location, hotel selection, and payment method, but it’s pretty long. Usability testing showed it was more effective to have a long page on this third page rather than add yet another page to the process.

The address fields are more complex than might be expected because these conferences attract attendees across the world.

This specific screenshot illustrates an error reporting technique where errors are listed at the top where the user is likely to notice them, while also flagging the individual fields with issues.