Fremont, CA - Software usability expert Jakob Nielsen made a surprise
announcement on his website useit.com this week that he will be branching
out from website/software usability and now be including lingual
and cultural usability into his studies.
The announcement included Nielsen's first victim in what will be
a constant assessment of life and language in America.
"The letter 'C' is 95% bad," states Nielsen's latest bi-weekly
newsletter which is entitled "Stop Being Stupid."
"As I sat down to re-evaluate the English language, I was struck
by the letter 'C' and its basic lack of function in the language," writes
Nielsen. "The sheer uselessness of a letter which just mimics
the sound of not one but two different consonants is staggering.
It only causes confusion and is probably costing companies millions
To prove his point Nielsen conducted a study which measured which
words subjects looked up in the dictionary most often.
"Our research indicates that 83% of the words being looked
up are words that contain the letter 'C'." states Nielsen. "Most
of this can be traced back to the lingual travesty which is the 'i
before e' rule, which incidentally is one diphthong we could live
The implications of Nielsen's first suggested change could be as
far reaching as the .com extension itself.
"Obviously if we phase out the 'C' entirely everything becomes
either a 'K' or an 'S', therefore the .com web extension will become
the .kom extension. Simple really."
Nielsen goes on to address the "CH" issue, "Once
we deprecate 'X' to no longer include the 'Z' sound property, it
will be a prime candidate to take the 'C' place in the 'CH' sound.
The learnability for 'XH' might be a little high, but our studies
show that its memorability factor more than makes up for the inconvenience
of having a trouble maker like 'C' in the mix."
Some experts have theorized that because of Nielsen's loyal following
of web developers, that the Internet may be the first place the new
alphabetical changes will be seen. Others discount this theory by
pointing out that no one really follows any of Nielsen's rules anyway,
so "...why would they start now?" Others suggest that the
idea would first have to be adopted by the Internet's standardization
body, the W3C, which may be unwilling to become the W3K until the
idea is adopted elsewhere.
Reached at his office today to discuss future studies of lingual
and cultural usability Nielsen, who admittedly "hasn't slept
much" since beginning his new studies, rattled off a few ideas
that may turn up in future newsletters.
"Snacks...I could do snacks, they seem pretty silly. Why would
you buy cookies and cakes when apples grow right on trees, they are
a perfectly usable product, rinse and eat. But wait, the lifecycle
of the apple is extremely short thus causing the expensive and time
consuming replacement of the unused apples. Maybe Twinkies are the
perfect snack...No, no, no, they obscure the whole point of the snack,
the cream filling, making the user guess. Unless the purpose of the
snack is the surprise, or obscurement, itself, then it's perfect.
Except for the fat...."
Nielsen then put the phone down and could be heard in the background
rambling on about such items as baseball mits and the 'PH' sound.
This article originally appeared at US
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