A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.

Web Design

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User experience design is a subset of the field of experience design which pertains to the creation of the architecture and interaction models which impact a user's perception of a device or system. The scope of the field is directed at affecting 'all aspects of the user’s interaction with the product: how it is perceived, learned, and used.'



Best Practices: Writing for Accessibility

Most of the time, the primary focus of information about accessibility has to do with making non-text information available as text. Captioning and audio description for video, transcriptions for audio, simple text alternatives for static images. But what about the content itself?

Dolson, Joseph C. Accessible Web Design (2008). Articles>Accessibility>Web Design>Writing


Better CSS Font Stacks

You want to use Gill Sans? Go right ahead. Nothing should stop you. Font stacks are prioritized lists of fonts, defined in the CSS font-family attribute, that the browser will cycle through until it finds a font that is installed on the user’s system. This means that you can use Gill Sans, and if your users don’t have it, you can give them an adequate substitute that will not diminish their experience.

Ford, Nathan. Unit Verse (2008). Articles>Web Design>Typography>CSS


A Better Image Rotator

About a year ago, I wrote an article, introducing a method for displaying a random image every time someone visits a web page. Administration was simple: just add or remove images from a folder on the server, and they would appear (or disappear, respectively) from the pool of random images being displayed on that page.

Benjamin, Dan. List Apart, A (2004). Design>Web Design>Graphic Design>DHTML


Better Invoices for Better Business

Invoices that obfuscate information, incorrectly state terms or arrive incomplete can be a massive headache for all parties. These mistakes will only delay the payment process, so it is critical you produce invoices that clearly deliver information your client will need.

Potts, Kevin. List Apart, A (2004). Design>Web Design>Forms>Usability


Better JavaScript Minification

Although both CSS and JavaScript may be included within an HTML page, best practices encourage storing CSS and JavaScript in external files that can be downloaded and cached separately. Performance research asks: How can these external resources be downloaded and applied most efficiently? The first approach is to limit the number of external requests since the overhead of each HTTP request is high. The second approach? Make your code as small as possible.

Zakas, Nicholas C. List Apart, A (2010). Articles>Web Design>Usability>JavaScript


Better Living Through XHTML

Everything you wanted to know about converting from HTML to XHTML, including why you’d want to, tools that help, changes in the way browsers display XHTML pages, shortcuts, bugs, workarounds, and other tips you won’t find elsewhere.

Zeldman, Jeffrey. List Apart, A (2002). Design>Web Design>XHTML


Better Ordered Lists (Using Simple PHP and CSS)

Ordered lists are boring! Sure you can apply background images and do quite a bit of sprucing up to a regular ordered list, but you just don’t get enough control over the number itself. Here is an example where you ditch the traditional ordered list and create your own!

CSS Tricks (2007). Design>Web Design>CSS>PHP


Better Readability for Improving the Number of Site Viewers

Web content readability is an often underestimated aspect for a web site. There are design rules for designers to follow, and there are SEO tips and tricks for SEO experts to use. But this is not all. Though beautiful designs and search engine optimization are extremely important, there are also other issues that a web marketer needs to consider in order to run the site successfully. Readability is one of them.

Stoyanova, Tsvetanka. SEOchat (2005). Articles>Web Design>Writing>Search


Better Search Engine Design: Beyond Algorithms

Search engine accuracy is important, but convenience may be more important than squeezing the last few ounces of performance out of your system. Peter Van Dijck demonstrates simple but effective query analysis, best bets, and controlled vocabularies -- tools to make your search engines more effective.

Van Dijck, Peter. O'Reilly and Associates (2004). Articles>Web Design>Search>Controlled Vocabulary


Better Web Forms: Redesigning eBay's Registration

Even the smallest adjustments to a page's design, layout, and content can make a major improvement in the overall quality of the page. Taking a fresh look at sections of a site that have been ignored for a while can give you an entirely new perspective. By making small incremental changes and testing them against real world scenarios, we can more easily focus on continuous improvement without going back to square one every time.

Dimon, Garrett. Digital Web Magazine (2007). Design>Web Design>Forms>E Commerce


Beware of Opening Links in a New Window

Find out why opening a link in a new window is not generally a good idea.

Turner, Neil. Webcredible (2004). Design>Web Design>Usability


Beware the Bleeding Edge and Feature Creep

You want to make sure that your systems have a certain amount of longevity — prolonging system lifecycle, avoiding the risk of obsolescence, and maximizing your return on investment — by making use of current technologies while not hastily chasing bleeding-edge promises of some sort of high-tech eden.

Chin, Paul. Intranet Journal (2004). Articles>Web Design>Intranets


Beyond "Couch Potatoes": From Consumers to Designers and Active Contributors   (peer-reviewed)

The fundamental challenge for computational media is to contribute to the invention and design of cultures in which humans can express themselves and engage in personally meaningful activities. Cultures are substantially defined by their media and tools for thinking, working, learning, and collaborating. New media change (1) the structure and contents of our interests; (2) the nature of our cognitive and collaborative tools; and, (3) the social environment in which thoughts originate and evolve, and mindsets develop.

Fischer, Gerhard. First Monday (2002). Articles>Cyberculture>Web Design>Community


Beyond Accessibility: Treating Users with Disabilities as People

With current Web design practices, users without disabilities experience three times higher usability than users who are blind or have low vision. Usability guidelines can substantially improve the matter by making websites and intranets support task performance for users with disabilities.

Nielsen, Jakob. Alertbox (2001). Design>Accessibility>Web Design>Universal Usability


Review: Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

While the potential return on investment may indeed be worth the effort, globalization and personalization come with substantial cost. To ensure you’re heading down the right path (and that you avoid the expensive mistakes of the trailblazers before you), it’s best to have a roadmap.

Abel, Scott. STC Hoosier (2003). Articles>Reviews>Web Design


Review: Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies

If your Web site is not designed for or understood by a global audience, you are excluding an estimated 200 million people, according to John Yunker in Beyond Borders: Web Globalization Strategies.

Staples, Jeff. Usability Interface (2004). Resources>Reviews>Web Design>Localization


Beyond DOCTYPE: Web Standards, Forward Compatibility, and IE8

Progress always comes at a cost. In the case of web browsers, users bear the cost when developers take the rendering of certain authoring tools and browsers (especially Internet Explorer) as gospel. We could spend hours explaining why our sites broke, but wouldn’t it be better if they didn’t break in the first place?

Gustafson, Aaron. List Apart, A (2008). Articles>Web Design>Standards


Beyond Functionality

Some organisations still take a function-centric approach to their online transactions with customers. Functionality is king, and interactions with the customer are seen as secondary.

Usability by Design (2005). Design>Web Design>Usability>E Commerce


Beyond Goals: Site Search Analytics from the Bottom Up

While goal-driven analysis is wonderfully useful, we’ll explore a different, “bottom-up” approach that relies on pattern analysis and failure analysis to help you understand your users’ intent in qualitative ways that complement the top-down approach.

Rosenfeld, Louis. List Apart, A (2009). Articles>Web Design>Search>Assessment


Beyond Guidelines: Advanced Accessibility Techniques

Find out how to go beyond the W3C accessibility guidelines and offer a truly accessible web experience.

Moss, Trenton. Webcredible (2006). Design>Web Design>Accessibility


Beyond Specifications: Towards a Practical Methodology for Evaluating Web Accessibility   (peer-reviewed)

The current set of tools and specifications for ensuring web accessibility require expert knowledge and often have a highly technical orientation, with the consequence that it is not very clear how, or even when, to make use of them. In an attempt to tackle this problem, this paper reviews the types of tools and specifications available and proposes a simple and practical methodology for web accessibility evaluation that demonstrates how these tools and specifications could be used. The proposed methodology proposes methods and processes for reaching and maintaining web accessibility, and consists of the following phases: (a) identification of user requirements and setting up of accessibility goals, (b) web accessibility evaluation and redesign process, and (c) establishment and follow-up of accessibility policy. Further, in order to illustrate step (b), an example of web accessibility evaluation is described, where the domain is contemporary scientific publishing web sites. The work presented in this paper reports on issues that need to be considered by human-computer interaction (HCI) researchers, interaction design practitioners, and usability professionals for inclusive web design and are complementary to web usability engineering.

Koutsabasis, Panayiotis, Evangelos Vlachogiannis and Jenny S. Darzentas. Journal of Usability Studies (2010). Articles>Web Design>Accessibility>Methods


Beyond Star Flashes: The Elements of Web 2.0 Style   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

In his “Web 2.0 How-to Design Guide,” Ben Hunt identifies the stylistic elements shared by Web 2.0 sites, including “star flashes,” circular badges reminiscent of sale price stickers. However, Hunt's approach to style is limited to cataloging surface features. A site designed using his guide would certainly look like Flickr, YouTube, or LibraryThing but might not employ the approach or functionality of those sites. While composition teachers can and should embrace Web 2.0, we must do so critically, by considering what Francis-Noël Thomas and Mark Turner would call the “conceptual stand” of Web 2.0, its fundamentals of writer, reader, thought, language, and their relationships. This approach to style recognizes that separating style and substance, however convenient, is misleading. In this essay, I map the conceptual stand of Web 2.0, providing a structure for critically evaluating sites that claim the “2.0” moniker. Given these elements of Web 2.0 style, composition teachers can better understand, employ, and engage Web 2.0 in teaching and scholarship.

Dilger, Bradley. Computers and Composition (2010). Articles>Web Design>Education>Rhetoric


Beyond the Blog: Wikis and Blikis

Blogs are about to give way to a new development. Wikis are web sites within which any user can quickly and easily edit much of the content, without HTML. This idea regarding user-generated online content goes beyond the comment posting of a standard blog. Blikis are blogs that have wiki support, so that users can edit the comments posted.

Streight, Steven. Blogger.com (2005). Articles>Web Design>Wikis>Blogging


Beyond the Browser

At the risk of repeating an old saw, when you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Our hammer has been the Web browser. It has been crippling the software industry for the past eight years and it will kill productivity at any company that introduces major enterprise applications on its intranet. Should we get rid of the browser? No, no more than we should get rid of the hammer. The browser is a useful tool. It needs to cease being the only tool, and it could use some improvement.

Tognazzini, Bruce and Jakob Nielsen. eWeek (2001). Design>Web Design>Usability


Beyond the Browser: Technologies to Watch

The Internet is not the World Wide Web. So what exactly lies beyond the browser? Eisenberg fearlessly predicts technologies to watch.

Eisenberg, J. David. List Apart, A (2000). Design>Web Design>Technology>Web Browsers



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