Nielsen Critique Gets Fast University of Michigan response…

Over the years I’ve learned not to predict the individual items in my monthly “Your Higher Education Marketing Newsletter” that will draw special attention. And this month, the highest interest item (more than 3x more clicks than the 2nd highest) in the April newsletter was no exception.

The April newsletter featured an Alertbox column by web usability champion Jakob Nielsen: “Right Justification Menus Impede Scannability.” He used three university examples to make his point:

  • Indiana University
  • University of Michigan
  • Vanderbilt University

The Alertbox column is at

What’s unusual is the rapid response Nielsen received from the University of Michigan. Nielsen sent the Alertbox on April 28 and by the time I sent my newsletter on April 30, the Michigan people had already corrected their website and removed the right justification.

Nielsen notes that in the total array of things to fix on websites, the menu justification issue isn’t the most important one. And while that’s true, every little fix helps make things better for those who visit college and university websites. And so special congratulations to the University of Michigan people who moved so quickly to make this change.

The Michigan folk also took the opportunity to fix two other problem areas: the use of hard-to-read ALL CAP LETTERS in the menu and the low contrast colors used in the original. It is indeed much easier to read in the new format.


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