A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Not Getting Personal: Assessing Website Effectiveness   (PDF)

Websites are sometimes evaluated primarily on first impressions or personal preference. More difficult to ascertain is their success in terms of communication. Assessments of websites can benefit from research and developments from fields such as usability studies, linguistics, professional writing, and rhetoric.

Durham, Marsha. STC Proceedings (1999). Articles>Web Design>Assessment>Usability


Novice vs. Expert Users

Web usability has traditionally been focused on increasing ease of learning for the novice users. This makes great sense and should continue to be the main goal. Remember Jakob's Law of the Internet user experience: users spend most of their time on other sites than your own. Thus, users rarely learn enough about any given site to become true expert users.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2000). Articles>Web Design>Usability


Observing Users Who Listen to Web Sites

In this article we focus on the first of these goals and give you some of the fascinating findings about how vision-impaired users work with web sites.

Redish, Janice C. 'Ginny' and Mary Frances Theofanos. Usability Interface (2003). Design>Usability>Methods


Ode to Balloon Help

Perhaps we should look to the simplest elements of usability for inspiration. Perhaps it's time to recognize the contribution of a single humble helper. Yes, it's time for an ode to Balloon Help.

Cavanagh, Thomas B. Usability Professionals Association (2004). Design>User Interface>Usability


Of Mice and iPods, or The Death of the Designer

Computing technologies are becoming so familiar it can feel as if they have always been here. It is strange to think that the mouse, for instance, was invented by Doug Englebart in the seventies. He must encounter a degree of incredulity when he mentions this to people. “You invented the mouse? Really? How nice. Did you also invent the pen?”

Blythe, Mark. uiGarden (2008). Articles>Human Computer Interaction>User Centered Design>Usability


Official Winter Olympics Site: Not Even Bronze

An early tweaking raised the Salt Lake City website to 70% compliance with homepage usability guidelines. Inside the site, however, task support falls far below medal contention.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2002). Design>Web Design>Usability


On Beyond Help: Meeting User Needs for Useful Online Information   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

It is well accepted that understanding the users and a thorough analysis of their goals and tasks is a prerequisite for usability. To produce a document, online information, or knowledge base that is truly usable, the designer and writer must also consider different user approaches to the information to create it in a form that meets those needs. The underlying technology must also be considered, as it affects the presentation of the information as well as the functionality available to users. To meet user needs for useful online information, all these elements must be factored into the design—and technical communicators must master the skills necessary to make the right choices.

Quesenbery, Whitney. Technical Communication Online (2001). Articles>Usability>Information Design


One Billion Internet Users

The Internet is growing at an annualized rate of 18% and now has one billion users. A second billion users will follow in the next ten years, bringing a dramatic change in worldwide usability needs.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2005). Articles>Web Design>Usability


One Hundred Million Websites

The early Web's explosive growth rate has slowed, but even the mature Web is still expanding and recently crossed the 100 million websites mark.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2006). Articles>Usability>Web Design


Online Persuasion: Seven Ways to Persuade People to Buy

Persuading people to do what you want them to do on your website isn't as hard as you think. Read through these top tips and so your online conversion rates can soar!

Halabi, Lisa. Webcredible (2008). Design>Web Design>Usability>E Commerce


Online Universal Design and Evaluation Tool

A major project of the Trace Center is the development of an on-line design and evaluation tool to assist product developers in creating better and more usable products. The design tool will lead designers through a process that encourages them to ask questions about their design and provides them with information about aspects or features of their product that might pose access barriers. A listing of possible strategies and ideas they might use to address the accessibility issues or to make their product more generally usable is provided. Specific examples, audio and video clips, copies of reference documents and studies, and resources they can contact or refer to will all be included over time.

University of Wisconsin. Design>Usability>Accessibility>Universal Usability


Online Yaşam ve Tasarım Kültürü

Hergün yüzlerce menü görüyor, onlarca 'checklist'i işaretliyor, formlar dolduruyor, bilgi gönderiyor, sepete atıyoruz. Bir sitenin tasarımı denince akla sadece grafikler, 'grid'lerin yerleri, menünün boyutu, renkler vs. geliyor, ancak bütün bu makyajın altında bir sitenin çatısı durumunda ve siteyi diğerlerinden ayıran temel etkenlerden olan sayfadaki farklı elemanların sunuluş biçimi, kullanıcıların siteden beklentilerini karşılamadaki ve kullanım kolaylığını sağlamadaki yeterlilik göz ardı ediliyor.

Ismailk.net. (Turkish) Design>Web Design>Usability


OOBE Project: A Case Study in User-Friendly Hardware   (PDF)

Many people can't even program their VCR, let alone set up a new PC. As part of an industry-wide response to this problem, Epson America came up with the Users Digest. We hoped it would grab users' attention and hold it long enough to get them up and running without calling tech support. This paper relates the history of the User k Digest andprovides a guided tour of this innovative document.

Bergen, Karen A. STC Proceedings (1997). Articles>User Centered Design>Usability


An Open Discussion on Web Navigation   (PDF)

What is navigation? • Central metaphor for the web • If they cannot find it, they cannot buy it • Conventions forming, but… • …It depends • Future: Will navigation be less or more important?

Instone, Keith. Instone.org (2002). Design>Web Design>Usability


Open New Windows for PDF and other Non-Web Documents

When using PC-native file formats such as PDF or spreadsheets, users feel like they're interacting with a PC application. Because users are no longer browsing a website, they shouldn't be given a browser UI.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2005). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Adobe Acrobat


Optimal Line Length: Research Supporting How Line Length Affects Usability  (link broken)

What is the optimal line length when reading prose text from a monitor? Certain aspects of usability have been researched for over 120 years. One active area of investigation has been the influence of line length on the speed of reading prose text. Weber (1881) made the first research-based recommendations when he suggested that an ideal line length was 4 inches (100 millimeters). He stated further that the maximum never should exceed 6 inches (150 mm). The same year Javel (1881) reported that line lengths should be no longer than 3.6 inches (90 mm). Two years later, Cohn (1883) confirmed that 3.6 inches (90 mm) was the best length, and that 4 inches (102 mm) was the longest admissible line length.

Bailey, Robert. Web Usability (2002). Design>Typography>Web Design>Usability


Optimize Your Site's Usability

A specter is haunting the world of business: The specter of customer empowerment. Users rule the Internet and vote with millions of mouse-clicks every day. Users go where they are well treated, so customer-centered Web sites that are easy to use and pleasant to visit get the credit card numbers. Sites that are difficult to use or take forever to download suffer the death penalty. This simple fact is the reason usability has become a core competency for business survival in the network economy.

Nielsen, Jakob. ZDNet (1998). Design>Web Design>Usability


Organizing Content 8: Second-Level Faceted Navigation

Peter Morville and Jeffery Callendar, two information architects, call faceted navigation “arguably the most significant search innovation of the past decade.” Because of its importance in content findability, one aspect I want to now explore further is a second-level faceted browsing system.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Information Design>Usability>Documentation


Organizing Digital Information for Others

In this short book, we explore how lists, categories, trees and facets can be better used to organize information for others. We also learn how metadata and taxonomies can connect different collections and increase the findability of information across the website or intranet.

Nichani, Maish. PebbleRoad (2012). Books>Information Design>Web Design>Usability


The Origin of Personas

The Inmates Are Running the Asylum, published in 1998, introduced the use of personas as a practical interaction design tool. Based on the single-chapter discussion in that book, personas rapidly gained popularity in the software industry due to their unusual power and effectiveness. Had personas been developed in the laboratory, the full story of how they came to be would have been published long ago, but since their use developed over many years in both my practice as a software inventor and architectural consultant and the consulting work of Cooper designers, that is not the case. Since Inmates was published, many people have asked for the history of Cooper personas, and here it is.

Cooper, Alan. Cooper Interaction Design. Articles>Usability>User Centered Design>Personas


Out of Box Experience: Getting it Right First Time

The out of box experience (OOBE) describes the users first interaction with a product or service. In the technology sector this first experience invariably involves plugging stuff in, installing some software and crossing your fingers in the hope that the product will work. The problem is that, in far too many cases, it doesn’t.

Frontend Infocentre (2009). Articles>User Experience>User Centered Design>Usability


Padded Link Targets for Better Mousing

Among the minor tweaks we introduced with the new Basecamp project switcher are some larger link targets at the top of the screen. Since then I’ve been paying extra attention to link target size. Here are a couple examples of generous link targets for inspiration.

37Signals (2008). Design>Web Design>Usability>CSS


Paper Prototypes: Still Our Favorite

We’ve been creating paper prototypes and teaching others to use them for the past eight years. In that time, we’ve learned a lot about what paper prototyping is all about and we’re still pleased by what an effective and easy-to-use tool it is.

User Interface Engineering (1998). Design>Usability>Prototyping


Paper Prototyping with Morae

Morae makes it easy to log usability tests, create video highlights and allow observers to view a test in progress. But Morae is designed to support usability tests of software, not paper prototypes. This how-to article shows you how to exploit the full functionality of Morae when carrying out a paper prototype test.

Travis, David. UserFocus (2007). Articles>Web Design>Prototyping>Usability



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