I am contemplating going to week of seminars by Nielsen Norman in Amsterdam later this month. However, I'm starting to get some doubts how web-focussed these seminars are. For instance, the Interaction Design seminar (3-days) states (my highlight):

The best of the best in the computer industry are engineer-designers. Engineers can be quick to learn design, but design is not engineering. Your investment in giving your engineer the knowledge and tools needed to succeed will be paid back in full with the first change your newly-minted engineer-designer makes to your site.

I am working on desktop software myself, and I'm starting to be afraid that I'll find it out is too web-centric to be useful to me. I'd really welcome views from people who've been to these sessions before.

Note that I am relatively inexperienced in the UX field. I'm an engineer myself, though I find myself to be more sensitive to UX isues than the average developer here, and so I seem to get that role here.

  • 1
    Not having been to one myself I'm not in a position to knowledgeably answer this question, but my comment would be that there isn't as large a distinction between desktop and web as you may think. Take iPhone Apps or Cloud based software such as Google Docs - are either of those explicitly Website or Desktop apps?
    – JonW
    Apr 2, 2012 at 14:28
  • Yeah, I think the distinction here is that traditionally Web focused companies have put a lot more money and effort into Usability (not counting MS/Apple). As a result many of these talks are focused around the web, but many of the principles are still the same.
    – Ben Brocka
    Apr 2, 2012 at 14:51
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    From your link: "You will learn how to organize a user-experience group and the proven industry-standard HCI design process". Neither is specific to the web.
    – MSalters
    Apr 2, 2012 at 14:53
  • @JonW That's true of course but in my experience many seminars focus on the things that aren't the same. For example apps and mobile sites: While UX and usability principles stay the same, you end up talking a lot about the ones that aren't: Screen size restrictions and touch interactions.
    – Phil
    Apr 2, 2012 at 16:23

3 Answers 3


I've been 2 weeks ago in Edinburgh at NN/g "Usability Week" and i've met a lot of people from different industries, from banks to medical electronics. It's not focused only on web, it's focused on any kind of HCI. At least my seminars where this way, but i think the other ones are based on the same rules.


I've been to NNG events twice (last year in SF and 3 years ago in London). IMO the seminars are very web-focussed. The only one I visited that wasn't that web-centric was "Interaction Design" by Tog (it also was the most interesting one).

  • 'Tog' started out at Apple, so he comes from a more OS background: asktog.com/tog.html
    – PhillipW
    Apr 2, 2012 at 17:06
  • @PhillipW Yep, and by looking at his website you can tell he doesn't have a web background ;)
    – Phil
    Apr 3, 2012 at 7:20
  • NNG almost makes a USP out of using retro 1990s web design... nngroup.com
    – PhillipW
    Apr 3, 2012 at 13:17

Answering my own question, after having been to part of the 2012 Usability Week in Amsterdam. I followed the "Interaction Design" by Tog 3-day track. I thought it was interesting (most of it anyway, I'm not all positive about the experience). It did not focus on web design though of course it did mention the web. This session was general enough to be useful for other contexts of UI design. I cannot judge the other sessions.

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