Important stuff when it comes to all sorts of things. When an e-commerce (or any other) web site is not usable, customers tend to disappear. Jakob Nielsen is a usability expert who is known for his critique against new web technology, frames and stuff that breaks the reason why html is no longer universal between different web browsers. Usability requires only common sense, but every day we see examples where new and incompatible web applications seem to be more important than common sense. Jakob is in favor of fast and efficient web design with minimal graphical elements.

designing a usable website does not mean that you have to leave out all the fun stuff, like Flash, DHTML or similar. The (careful) use of new technologies can indeed make your site more usable, eg. when using Flash to replace raster graphics, when appropriate (of course, you'd still want to provide the image in a way accessible to all). As with all design skills, you should know the rules and then carefully break them.

A usable site IMHO adresses the following issues:

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