A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

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1.
#32735

404 Page on a Static Site

Here’s a very quick, but very useful trick. You can catch 404 errors (page not found) on a static site and serve up a custom 404 page with a one-liner in your .htaccess file.

Coyier, Chris. CSS Tricks (2008). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design

2.
#24752

Accessibility Humanized: A User-Centred Approach to Web Accessibility

Most web developers act in blindness when they design accessible websites, since they know next to nothing about disabled people and the technology they use. Accessibility guidelines and validation tools doesn't provide this insight. Accessibility should rather be approached from a user centred perspective.

Olsen, Henrik. GUUUI (2004). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>User Centered Design

3.
#33015

Accessibility in User-Centered Design: Personas

Personas are "hypothetical archetypes" of actual users. They are not real people, but they represent real people during the design process. A persona is a fictional characterization of a user. The purpose of personas is to make the users seem more real, to help designers keep realistic ideas of users throughout the design process.

UIaccess (2007). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Personas

4.
#33475

Accessing Information: Not Everyone Does it the Same Way

As some in our profession have come to realize, social media and use of the Web in general have changed (and are still changing) the way in which people access and use information.

DMN Communications (2008). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>User Centered Design

5.
#32996

Adapting the Design Process to Address More Customers in More Situations

While user-centered design (UCD) is a commonly used process for designing mainstream hardware, software, and web interfaces; design for accessibility is relatively uncommon in education and practice. As a result, the scope of users and the situations in which they operate products is not as inclusive as it could be. Designing for accessibility does not require a whole new process. Accessible design techniques fit well into established UCD processes for designing a range of products, from a handheld device, to office software, to a government web site. By integrating accessibility into the design process, designers can efficiently create products that work effectively for more people in more situations.

Henry, Shawn Lawton. UIaccess (2001). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design

6.
#23358

The Aesthetic Imperative: Four Perspectives on Aesthetics to Impact the User Experience

Aesthetic value can and should be part of the total design effort, including the information architect's perspective to achieve a 'total integrative experience.' Here are four ways to think about aesthetics and beauty to structure and focus the dialogue with UX peers: visual designers, programmers, content producers, strategists, etc.

Gajendar, Uday. IAsummit (2004). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design>Aesthetics

7.
#24578

Afraid So: Horrible Web Monstrosities

Here they come. Nightmare web sites that, from a usability perspective, are horrid monsters. When you're tired and in a hurry, you want a web site to quickly and easily provide relevant content to you, so you can solve a problem or perform some task. Discover common hideous impediments to web usability. WARNING: Not for the faint hearted!

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Web Design>Usability>User Centered Design

8.
#21339

AIGA Experience Design - Past, Present and Future

At the end of April 2002, the AIGA Experience Design SIG will hold its first joint Forum as part of CHI 2002. Intended to be the first of several collaborative ventures to bring the Experience Design communities of practice together, the success of the forum marks a milestone in the life of the AIGA ED group.

Malone, Erin. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design

9.
#24524

Altruistic vs. Narcissistic Web Sites

Users are repulsed by web sites that are narcissistic, egotistic, corporate-speak, hard to understand, and difficult to use. Users are attracted to and enjoy web sites that are altruistic, user-prioritized, user-focused, easy to understand, easy to use, and full of fresh, relevant content.

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2004). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Usability

10.
#26362

Ambient Findability: Findability Hacks

Findability is one of the most thorny problems in web design. This is due in part to the inherent ambiguity of semantics and structure. We label and categorize things in so many ways that retrieval is difficult at best. But that’s only the half of it. The most formidable challenges stem from its cross-functional, interdisciplinary nature. Findability defies classification. It flows across the borders between design, engineering, and marketing. Everybody is responsible, and so we run the risk that nobody is accountable.

Morville, Peter. List Apart, A (2005). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design>Search

11.
#32956

Are Designers Focused Enough on User Needs?

I find that many designers give much more of their time to learning the latest standards trick than learning the latest “designing for users” trick. Here are a few reasons why this may be so.

Porter, Joshua. Bokardo (2008). Articles>Web Design>Standards>User Centered Design

12.
#33220

Are We There Yet? Effects of Delay on User Perceptions of Web Sites

One of the chronic challenges that will be highlighted by emotional design is site download speed. There are many sources of delay in Web site and application delivery.

Straub, Kathleen. Human Factors International (2003). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Emotions

13.
#14191

The Art of Being Human

Site visitors crave the sense that someone is there, within and behind your Web pages, your emails and newsletters. Dealing with the bare technology of online interactions is a cold experience for many, or even most of us. It makes us feel anxious. Technology isn't warm. It has no heart. It neither understands us, nor cares for us. For many Web sites, whether for businesses or organizations, we simply plug in and play the bare technology - the super-duper means of information delivery. All the site visitor sees and feels is the design, the interface, the links and the clicks. The experience is about as warm and human as banking with an ATM machine.

Spool, Jared M. User Interface Engineering (2002). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Usability

14.
#14249

Audience-Driven Web Design: An Application to Medical Web Sites   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

We begin by identifying the problem of defining medical Web site credibility and then identify the gap in Web design research, a gap that fails to identify or address specific audience needs in Web site design. We then present our process for identifying and fulfilling specific audience needs, describe a framework, and present a case study in audience-driven Web design using the framework to guide the discussion.

Swenson, Jenni, Helen Constantinides and Laura J. Gurak. Technical Communication Online (2002). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design>Biomedical

15.
#23280

Balancing Visual and Structural Complexity in Interaction Design

Usability is based on principles such as 'Less is more' and 'Keep it simple, stupid'. But there is more to simplicity than meets the eye. By reducing visual complexity at the cost of structural simplicity, you will give your users a hard time understanding and navigating the content of a web site.

GUUUI (2003). Design>Web Design>Interactive>User Centered Design

16.
#29552

Banner Blindness: Old and New Findings

Users rarely look at display advertisements on websites. Of the four design elements that do attract a few ad fixations, one is unethical and reduces the value of advertising networks.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2007). Design>Web Design>Ethics>User Centered Design

17.
#21434

Benutzertests durch Spurenverwertung   (PDF)

In most cases a technical writer cannot do any user tests. If you have access to the user log of a web server you can derive quite interesting facts like how often and how long a specific page was viewed and how the surfers navigated.

von Obert, Alexander. Techwriter.de (2003). (German) Design>Web Design>User Centered Design>Log Analysis

18.
#38074

Best Practices For Designing Websites For Kids

Designing websites and related media for kids presents plenty of opportunities for Web designers. Openings are available at many businesses and schools, as well as through parents and kids themselves, giving designers many ways to find work on electronic and print projects that appeal to kids. The types of work range from interface designs for video games to websites for birthday parties.

Morrison, David. Smashing (2011). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Children

19.
#29293

Blasting the Myth of the Fold

There is an astonishing amount of disbelief that the users of web pages have learned to scroll and that they do so regularly. Holding on to this disbelief--this myth that users won't scroll to see anything below the fold--is doing everyone a great disservice, most of all our users.

Tarquini, Milissa. Boxes and Arrows (2007). Design>Web Design>Information Design>User Centered Design

20.
#20775

Boxes and Arrows

Boxes and Arrows is the definitive source for the complex task of bringing architecture and design to the digital landscape. There are various titles and professions associated with this undertaking—information architecture, information design, interaction design, interface design—but when we looked at the work that we were actually doing, we found a “community of practice” with similarities in outlook and approach that far outweighed our differences. Boxes and Arrows is a peer-written journal dedicated to discussing, improving and promoting the work of this community, through the sharing of exemplary technique, innovation and informed opinion.

Boxes and Arrows. Journals>Web Design>User Centered Design>Interaction Design

21.
#23986

A Breath of Fresh Air

It takes research, humility, and skill to truly understand your customers well enough to serve them better than your competitors.

Cooper, Alan. Cooper Interaction Design (2002). Design>Web Design>Consulting>User Centered Design

22.
#32926

Brint.com: Why More is Not Better

Information architect Lou Rosenfeld never thought he'd criticize a website for being over-architected. Then he saw Brint.com and its 16 navigational systems.

Rosenfeld, Louis. CIO Magazine (2000). Articles>Web Design>Information Design>User Centered Design

23.
#35822

Changing Terminology: "User" versus "Customer"

The term "user" has also been critiqued because it obscures the fact that people use software and web sites in different ways. Sometimes the "user" is a customer, sometimes a contributor, sometimes an employee, sometimes a learner. In many cases, one of these words would be more accurate than the catch-all "user."

Ruby, Jennie. I Came, I Saw, I Learned (2009). Articles>Web Design>Social Networking>User Centered Design

24.
#32981

Coming of Age in Ethnography

I first heard of ethnography in Sociology 101. In his sonorous voice, our professor regaled us with tales of intrepid anthropologists immersing themselves in little-known cultures in exotic settings. We discussed Margaret Mead's seminal work, Coming of Age in Samoa. We examined the rigors of fieldwork, the tension between observation and participation and the challenge of analysis. It was a great class and I even opted for Soc 102. And that was that. Ethnography faded into the recesses of my mind until reawakened with a start a few years ago when I began hearing it applied to Web design. And it scared me spitless.

Rogers, David J. GotoMedia (2006). Articles>Web Design>User Centered Design>Ethnographies

25.
#21364

Customer Experience Meets Online Marketing at Brand Central Station

'Customer Experience' is all about how your prospective and current customers perceive your company, based on the effort they had to expend accomplishing the above tasks. If the word 'brand' pops into your head, you may go to the head of the class.

Sterne, Jim. Boxes and Arrows (2002). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design

 
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