A while back I had a gentle pop at Jakob Nielsen for his negative view of RSS, but I wouldn't want anyone to think that I don't have a lot of respect for his work. Apart from anything else, JN has "stickability" and a long term track record that no-one else can match. One of the benefits of that is the ability to look back over what, in web terms, are geological time periods to see what's changed. The answer, perhaps unsuprisingly, is not that much. The latest Alertbox article looks at the last 10 years of web usability testing and concludes that "A remarkable 80% of findings from the Web usability studies in the 1990s continue to hold today".
- More than half of the usability findings from the 1990s remain in force.
- 10% of the original usability issues have resolved because of improved technology.
- More problems went away because of changing user behavior than because of technology improvements.
"I safely predict that in 2012, these same enemies of usability will write blog postings saying "sure, Jakob Nielsen might have been right in 2007, but he doesn't get the fancy new stuff we do here in 2012." Those of us who bother doing the user studies will be laughing in 2017, when everybody finally agrees that the research findings from 2012 were right on target."