I'm wondering this for quite some time, and it's a question about human-computer interaction and usability.

A lot of popular websites have (in my opinion) poor usability, and I wonder what you guys think of that, and I also wonder why users still prefer these websites. I'll start off with a few examples.

Wikipedia I'm not talking here about the actual wiki's. But If you want to get into editing these pages it starts with a big mess. There are tons of discussions in the pages behind the wiki's. For example:


This is bulletin board with thousands of lines of comments, no proper way to identify who's posting what. And all that indentation. It's really annoying me and it's one of the reasons I'm not editing wiki's.

Twitter Okay, I get the deal with the 140 characters in a message. It forces people to make small messages, and it's ideal for mobile devices. However, a lot of people nowadays are having conversations over twitter. And that's where it gets messy, if someone replies at a tweet of someone else, it's almost impossible to find the corresponding tweet. Also, you're forced to cramp #hastags and @people in your message, so for me it's very messy.

Craigslist Euhm, yeah craigslist... I'm not even starting on this one.

This post is not a complaint about these websites. I'm just surprised they are lacking even the most basic usability features. And that makes me wonder the following thing.

Everyone on this website is talking about usability, and human computer interaction. A lot of people study the effects of them on websites. People have gained PhD's in them.

Then why is it, that the most popular websites on the internet, do not follow the basic rules of usability, and have a lot of things that can improved for better user experience.

Then, another question, is it even proven that adding usability features actually IMPROVE the quality of the user experience of the website

closed as not a real question by danlefree Apr 4 '11 at 9:38

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • If you have specific technical questions regarding site usability (as opposed to subjective discussion of the lack thereof) the UI/UX Stack Exchange would be the best place to ask: ux.stackexchange.com – danlefree Apr 4 '11 at 9:40

Because if the content is compelling then users are prepared to put up with the lack of usability to get what they want done. Also, each of those sites works because they are the most popular in their field. If there were lots of user-editable encyclopaedias then none of them would be successful because you'd have to look up information on each one. Wikipedia works well because it is the main place to go for reference material on a broad range of subjects.

However for the rest of us creating websites, unless we can find something that no other site caters for, we have to compete with lots of other people in the same area - companies offering similar products or services. So the way to stand out for us it is to make something that's easier to use, then people will use our site rather than the other sites in the same field.


I think you misunderstand the concept of usability.

You might dislike Craigslist design, but the usability is good.
Just test it: open the website and ask you mom to find bikes to buy.
She will take about 2 sec to find the link on the homepage, and you're done.
Lists of blue links are easy to understand.
That's usability.

You understand the point with Twitter, and they've added a way to get the "reply from" tweet. At least gwibber (linux client) displays the link to it.

For wikipedia, the discussions are not the main face of the website.
The thing is that it's easy to contribute: click Edit, and go!
And then you learn the syntax easily by copying what you see on other pages.
Your mom could do it.

About usability: yes, it improves user experience, if done well.
But, depending on context, some well-known usability advice might work or not.
For example, "OK buttons are green, Cancel are red".
If you do that, everyone will instinctively understand your buttons.
But your webdesigner will complain: green is not in the color palette used on the website, and adding something green in a purple/brown website will be ugly, so you go for a blue OK and a purple Cancel....

  • Sorry, but I think you are the one who misunderstands usability. Editing Wikipedia has good usability? What has the world come to... That's one of the least usable editing experiences I have ever seen in my life. – RomanSt Sep 16 '11 at 0:14

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