User Interface design panel for the WWW4 conference, Boston, December 11-14, 1995

Cool or Content: Design Strategies for a Million-Site Web


How a web site can survive in the coming hyperworld with perhaps a million servers on the WWW has the design community in orbit. Should interface design aim for a "Cool" rating with its mandatory colored backgrounds, rendered images, and the latest browser extensions that may have earned a low usability mark? Or should interface design aim for a highly usable presentation of content at the price of slightly less hipp apperance? Orbiting these two gravitons, interaction designers on the panel take sides in defining the appearance and behavior of a world wide wealth of information.

Panelist bios

Jakob Nielsen is a Sun Microsystems Distinguished Engineer. He led the user interface team that designed Sun's WWW pages and he co-designed Sun's internal WWW pages (SunWeb). He also works on the next generation of strongly object-oriented user interfaces, the user interface for Sun's next generation of online documentation, and on enhanced maturity levels for usability engineering methodology. He is the author of the best-selling books Multimedia and Hypertext: The Internet and Beyond and Usability Engineering (both AP Professional) and co-editor (with R. L. Mack) of the definitive work Usability Inspection Methods (John Wiley & Sons). Dr. Nielsen's earlier affiliations include Bellcore, the Technical University of Denmark, and the IBM User Interface Institute at the T. J. Watson Research Center. His monthly column is at umns/alertbox

Jonathan Rosenberg is the Executive Vice President of Technology for C|NET. Among his many responsibilities are the care and feeding of the technical side of C|NET ONLINE, which currently comprises two of the largest and most popular WWW sites ( and Much of his group's work focuses on the dynamic generation of customized multimedia information, including UIs. Jonathan's areas of expertise include networking, distributed systems, multimedia and document processing. Prior to C|NET, he worked at Bellcore (where he obtained three patents on software for delivery of networked multimedia) and the Information Technology Center at Carnegie Mellon University (where he built the Andrew Message System). Jonathan has a PhD in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University.

Brandee Selck is the current CEO and former Art Director at IUMA (the Internet Underground Music Archive). She led the interface design team for both IUMA 1.0 and 2.0. Effectively bringing together a solid information architecture with attractive and wacky graphics, she helped create IUMA 2.0, setting a new standard in Web interface design. Selck has also created graphics for Addicted to Noise and Silicon Surf Web sites, as well as co-produced the 4AD Records site. Her design interests include font manipulation, scanning unusual 3-D objects, and writing witty visual themes throughout an interface. Selck graduated with a degree in Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz and is a member of the Alliance for Women Entreprenuers.

Eviatar (Ev) Shafrir, M.Sc. (Scorpio, born 1958) is a visual interaction designer with the User Interaction Desgin group at Hewlett-Packard in California. He holds a B.Sc. degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a M.Sc. degree in Engineering Management from Stanford University. With a strong foundation in software engineering Ev tuned his attention to interface and interaction design for software development systems. He is the senior designer responsible for the visual appearance, behavior, and navigation of the Test & Measurement, Medical, and other area of Access HP ( His design interests include non-latin screen-font creation, custom software components, and off-the-wall visual metaphors for hard-to-swallow software interfaces. When the season is right you can find Ev cycling somewhere in France. Ev is a member of the Association for Software Design.

Andrew Wanliss-Orlebar is the Interface Director for Total New York ( where he leads a team responsible for the conceptualization and visualization of the site's content. He is a co-founder of Ada'web (, a site which explores navigation, interaction and experience on the web through (web)site-specific projects created in collaboration with artists. His work and writings concentrate on design and technology as intuitive, user driven communicative tools, a focus born of his frustration with hidden on/off switches and obscure blinking symbols. He specializes in finding novel metaphors for information structures and devising bold visual solutions for effective communication. Wanliss-Orlebar holds a degree in Communications and Cultural Studies from the Annenberg School for Communication of the University of Pennsylvania, and has developed award-winning designs in the publishing and advertising fields in Europe, the United States and South America.