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Should every web site look the same?

by Giles Turnbull -- 2000/07/26

In his latest Alertbox column, web usability advocate Jakob Nielsen declares the "end of web design" and calls for web designers to tone down distinct design.

Is Nielsen calling for the end of the web as we know it, or would his ideas be good news for content producers and writers?

Nielsen says:

Even when some users return often enough to become skilled users, the site still needs to target novices in its design since people will not enter a website if it is not immediately obvious how to use it in a few seconds. Zero learning time or die.

Nielsen accepts on his own comments page that " my proposal would fail if it made the Web overly dull".

So how does the content community bring together these two apparently conflicting themes - unifying the appearence of the web, since the web is bigger than any one site, and still making pages that have the visual appeal that brings readers and users?