Jakob Nielsen Approves Grouvia’s Breadcrumbs (But There’s More To It Than That)

Ok so it’s not the most exciting headline you’re likely to come across today, but it’s pretty exciting for me. For two reasons.

The underlying story is that I had a disagreement with my designer, Brenda, about how to deal with a disconnect we were creating when we allowed the user to click on a link on their home page and get “transported” to a page several levels down. I had a concern that the user would feel disoriented by that and be unsure how to get back. (Remember from many posts ago I swore I would never let this happen and I keep my promises.) After some debate about what breadcrumbs actually represent (I lost that argument), we could not come to agreement about whether to display them. In addition, if we put them here, we now have to put them everywhere, which means it changes every single page. So, we tabled the discussion as it was getting too heated.

Later, I started poking around Jakob Nielsen’s web site looking for inspiration to brainstorm other solutions. On a whim, I emailed him about my issue (his email link is right on the site) and a day later he responded, telling me to use the breadcrumbs and providing a solid reason why.

So exciting thing number one is that he basically solved my problem. Given that he is THE expert in web usability, and it was clear that he “got” my issue, it was easy for me to go with his advice. It didn’t hurt that he vetted my side of the argument ;-).

Exciting thing number two is the more far-reaching, forehead-slapping conclusion that these people are accessible. We are not alone. The experts are out there and they’re willing to help us! David Meerman Scott commented on my blog about buyer personas several weeks ago and gave me a very useful tip. Guy Kawasaki responded to an email from my marketing parter about another topic, the same day. Jakob Nielsen responded to my email and helped me solve a critical problem. It’s amazing, and it’s comforting, and it makes my confidence in these people soar.

I want to be one of them. I am learning other things from them besides how to come up with a buyer persona and whether to include breadcrumbs on my site. I’m learning how to brand yourself, how to help people, and how to use your knowledge and experience and fan base to improve the web experience for all.

It is enlightening. It is humbling. And I am grateful.

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Twitter Schmitter (or “Tweeting Frenzy” for the non-New Yorkers)

I have to talk about Twitter. It’s everywhere and it’s driving me nuts.

Everybody, and I mean EVERYBODY is pushing me to get a Twitter account. Apparently my life will continue to have no purpose without it, my business will fail, my marriage will fall apart, Republicans will take over, and on and on.

Hogwash.

I have read lots of articles and blogs (but, happily, no tweets) on how great this little tool is. But I have yet to find a compelling argument for why I should spend my limited time “following” dozens (or hundreds) of people’s stream-of-consciousness rants about their pet peeves and kids’ poop schedules, and broken household items. Oh, I know there are useful bits of information being tweeted, but honestly folks, I’m trying to start a business here and I really do not have the time to sift through it all waiting for that pearl of wisdom to drop into my crackberry. I already spend several hours a week keeping up with LinkedIn, Facebook, and a dozen or so blogs I subscribe to. I’m sorry, I have better things to do with my time, and I have to prioritize. And yes dammit — I need at least 7 hours of sleep.

The only hope I have is that those who will be my ultimate competitors are spending half their days twittering and not getting important business-related tasks done. That will give me another edge over them.

I’m OK with that.

P.S. Here’s a salient interview with by Jakob Nielsen (one of my favorite authors) about the value of Twitter. Hear hear.

[Update: You might notice that I actually now have a twitter account (see nav links). As a startup, I’m trying to maximize exposure for grouvia and one reputable source says having a twitter account is crucial. So for the love of my business, I got one, but I have no idea what I’m going to do with it yet and I am still skeptical.]