Just a quick post to point out an article I wrote on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, Spam2.0: Fake user accounts and spam profiles. This is a large and growing problem but a lot of folks I’ve talked to didn’t realize they had fake user accounts on their own sites. Excerpt:
Spammers create fake profiles for a number of nefarious purposes. Sometimes they’re just a way to reach users internally on a social networking site. This is somewhat similar to the way email spam works – the point is to send your users messages or friend invites and trick them into following a link, making a purchase, or downloading malware by sending a fake or low-quality proposition.
Spammers are also using spam profiles as yet another avenue to generate webspam on otherwise good domains. They scour the web for opportunities to get their links, redirects, and malware to users. They use your site because it’s no cost to them and they hope to piggyback off your good reputation.
When designing a user interface or doing a usability review of an existing website, simplicity is an extremely important goal. When I get to your interface, don’t force me to spend time thinking. Make it easy for me to do what I want to do.
Like anything else, though, don’t take the drive for simplicity and turn it into an inflexible dogma. Make sure your UI simplification efforts stop before your interface is:
… so simple it doesn’t give users any cues. This is a classic Web2.0 sandtrap – yes, your site looks very modern and clean with one giant button, but what does the button do?
… so simple it doesn’t do what the user wants. Here’s a great example of oversimplification from Tim and Eric Awesome Show:
It’s great – users have expressed frustration in getting calls when they’re at dinner or trying to enjoy a relaxing round of golf – so they’ve taken away the ability to get incoming call. Problem solved.
… so simple that important efficiency gains are lost, requiring users to expend repetitive manual effort. The Cinco Fone example above fits this one as well, but here’s another fun satire from the Onion News Network about the Macbook Wheel:
I’d love to hear any example of websites that you think might be committing one of the three sins of over-simplicity, please add a comment below.
Also, ff the title of this post is familiar, it’s because it’s based on a quote often attributed to Albert Einstein. The actual quote is:
It can scarcely be denied that the supreme goal of all theory is to make the irreducible basic elements as simple and as few as possible without having to surrender the adequate representation of a single datum of experience.
Thanks to everyone who voted and sent us your suggestions. We’re getting very close to the due date, so I’m officially shutting down votes tomorrow. We’ve decided to make the final choice once the baby is born, just in case the kid has some suggestions of their own. Watch this space for news, hopefully soon.
In the mean time, here are a few things I’ve learned:
Spreadsheets are the next frontier in web2.0 social networking. No kidding.
Blog posts about babies are much more popular than posts about statistics.
Let random people vote on a baby name over the internet, and a few will spam the form or enter nasty stuff, but the vast majority will give you helpful suggestions. Way to go, Internet.
Here’s the form, get your vote in by end of day Friday, November 14th.