Nielsen, Jakob

Nielsen at CHI 1997
Jakob Nielsen at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Atlanta, GA in March 1997.

Jakob Nielsen (1957 – ) is a user advocate and principal of the Nielsen Norman Group, a user experience consulting firm he co-founded with Dr. Donald A. Norman in 1998. The New York Times has called Nielsen “the guru of Web page usability,” and he was named “the world’s leading expert on Web usability” by U.S. News & World Report. Nielsen holds 79 United States patents, mainly on ways to make the Internet easier to use.

While working as an assistant professor at the Technical University of Denmark, Nielsen established the “discount usability engineering” movement, offering HCI researchers a simpler, cheaper way to evaluate and improve usability. The idea was born out of necessity – his budget as an academic was much smaller than the funds available to industry researchers. He advocated three pillars of discount usability: simplified user testing with five participants, narrowed-down paper prototypes, and heuristic evaluation, in which researchers evaluate user interface designs by assessing them relative to established usability guidelines.

Nielsen at CHI 2013
Jakob Nielsen proudly shows his SIGCHI Lifetime Practice Award at the ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris, France on April 28, 2013.

Nielsen is the author of many widely-renowned titles, including the best-selling book “Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity,” which has sold more than a quarter of a million copies in 22 languages. He was inducted into the Scandinavian Interactive Media Hall of Fame in 2000 and elected to the ACM CHI Academy in 2006.

Nielsen also received the SIGCHI Lifetime Achievement Award for Human-Computer Interaction Practice in 2013.

“I remember meeting Jakob as a young Scandinavian researcher who I invited to attend my week-long course in 1985 (or 1986?).  He went on to become the most famous promoter of HCI thinking through his professional talks around the world, his widely-read AlertBox articles are often bold, playful, and clever. I am always ready to defend Jakob against his critics, and think we need ten more Jakob’s to help promote HCI.  He came to speak for my User Interface Strategies ’94 satellite TV show (December 1993) and I was happy to join him, Don Norman, and Brenda Laurel for a speaking tour to London and Amsterdam (April 2000).” – Ben Shneiderman


  • Ph.D. in Human-Computer Interaction, Technical University of Denmark


  • Principal, Nielsen Norman Group (1998 – Present)
  • Distinguished Engineer, Sun Microsystems (1994 – 1998)
  • Member of Research Staff, Bellcore (1990 – 1994)
  • Assistant Professor, Technical University of Denmark (1986 – 1990)
  • Visiting Scientist, T.J. Watson Research Center, IBM (1985)
  • Research Fellow, Aarthus University (Denmark) (1983 – 1984)


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