A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Accessibility   (PDF)

Web sites should be designed to ensure that everyone, including users who have difficulty seeing, hearing, and making precise movements, can use them. Generally, this means ensuring that Web sites facilitate the use of common assistive technologies. All United States Federal Government Web sites must comply with the Section 508 Federal Accessibility Standards.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>Accessibility>Section 508


Card Sorting

Card sorting is a way to involve users in grouping information for a Web site. Participants in a card sorting session are asked to organize the content from your Web site in a way that makes sense to them. Participants review items from your Web site and then group these items into categories. Participants may even help you label these groups. Card sorting helps you build the structure for your Web site, decide what to put on the home page, and label the home page categories. It also helps to ensure that you organize information on your site in a way that is logical to your users.

Usability.gov. Articles>Usability>Information Design>Card Sorting


Consider as Many Design Alternatives as Possible: The Value of Parallel Design

Several years ago I taught several 'hands-on' courses on Web user interface design. In one exercise, students were given user and system requirements, and used a prototyping tool to create a simple system. After the design solutions were completed, each individual in the class used everyone else's proposed systems to complete a task. Having experienced everyone else's ideas, the students then made changes to their original prototypes. The same process was repeated a second time. The results were amazing. By having students work independently to create unique ideas, and then effectively sharing these ideas, the final interfaces always were significantly better than the originals.

Bailey, Robert. Usability.gov (2006). Articles>Usability


Content Organization   (PDF)

After ensuring that content is useful, well-written, and in a format that is suitable for the Web, it is important to ensure that the information is clearly organized. In some cases, the content on a site can be organized in multiple ways to accommodate multiple audiences. Organizing content includes putting critical information near the top of the site, grouping related elements, and ensuring that all necessary information is available without slowing the user with unneeded information. Content should be formatted to facilitate scanning, and to enable quick understanding.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Information Design>Web Design>Writing


Design Process and Evaluation   (PDF)

There are several usability-related issues, methods, and procedures that require careful consideration when designing and developing Web sites. The most important of these are presented in this chapter, including 'up-front' issues such as setting clear and concise goals for a Web site, determining a correct and exhaustive set of user requirements, ensuring that the Web site meets user's expectations, setting usability goals, and providing useful content.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>Usability


Designing Educational Booklets for the Web

We discuss here the results of usability tests on two booklets which were transferred from print to the Web. The booklets provide the public with basic information on various cancers, cancer treatment, and other cancer-related topics. The booklets were written by the National Cancer Institute's Office of Education and Special Initiatives (NCI OESI).

Usability.gov. Articles>Web Design>Usability>Case Studies


Developing an Online Form

Creating an online form can present developers with many challenges. This case study reviews how a paper-based form was taken through the usability engineering process to develop a functional online version. We discuss the steps in planning and research, prototype development, test design, and the usability test results.

Usability.gov. Articles>Web Design>Forms>Usability


Getting the Complete Picture with Usability Testing

Good usability testing definitely provides an opportunity for clear-cut improvements in the usability of Web sites. In order to increase the chances of success with usability testing, it is important to measure effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction–they all measure different aspects of the usability of a Web site. If only one or two of these measures are used, it would provide an incomplete or partial picture of the possible human performance and user satisfaction results.

Bailey, Robert. Usability.gov (2006). Articles>Usability>Testing


Graphics, Images, and Multimedia   (PDF)

Graphics are used on many, if not most, Web pages. When used appropriately, graphics can facilitate learning. An important image to show on most pages of a site is the organization's logo. When used appropriately, images, animation, video, and audio can add tremendous value to a Web site. When animation is used appropriately, it is a good idea to introduce the animation before it begins.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>Multimedia


Guidelines and Checklists

Provides usability guidelines and quick fix checklists for designing usable Web sites.

Usability.gov. Resources>Usability>Accessibility


Headings, Titles, and Labels   (PDF)

Most users spend a considerable amount of time scanning rather than reading information on Web sites. Well-designed headings help to facilitate both scanning and reading written material. Designers should strive to use unique and descriptive headings, and to use as many headings as necessary to enable users to find what they are looking for--it is usually better to use more rather than fewer headings. Headings should be used in their appropriate HTML order, and it is generally a good idea not to skip heading levels.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>Document Design


The Homepage   (PDF)

The homepage is different from all other Web site pages. A well-constructed homepage will project a good first impression to all who visit the site. It is important to ensure that the homepage has all of the features expected of a homepage and looks like a homepage to users. A homepage should clearly communicate the site's purpose, and show all major options available on the Web site. Generally, the majority of the homepage should be visible 'above the fold,' and should contain a limited amount of prose text. Designers should provide easy access to the homepage from every page in the site.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>User Centered Design


Lessons Learned

Examples and case studies from Web sites/applications that have been through the usability engineering process. Lessons Learned is a compilation of real-world examples of what works on Web sites/applications that have been through the usability engineering process. Each example has its own special problems and may target different audiences, but many of the points we have learned apply to Web sites/applications in general. These lessons provide a practical solution to real-world problems about collecting user data and designing, testing, and improving your Web site/applications.

Usability.gov. Resources>Usability>Case Studies


Links   (PDF)

Linking means that users will select and click on a hypertext link on a starting page (usually the homepage), which then causes a new page to load. Users continue toward their goal by finding and clicking on subsequent links. To ensure that links are effectively used, designers should use meaningful link labels (making sure that link names are consistent with their targets), provide consistent clickability cues (avoiding misleading cues), and designate when links have been clicked. Whenever possible, designers should use text for links rather than graphics. Text links usually provide much better information about the target than do graphics.

Usability.gov (2006). Articles>Web Design>Hypertext


Lists   (PDF)

Lists are commonly found on Web sites. These may be lists of, for example, people, drugs, theaters, or restaurants. Each list should be clearly introduced and have a descriptive title. A list should be formatted so that it can be easily scanned. The order of items in the list should be done to maximize user performance, which usually means that the most important items are placed toward the top of the list. If a numbered list is used, start the numbering at 'one,' not 'zero.' Generally only the first letter of the first word is capitalized, unless a word that is usually capitalized is shown in the list.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>Typography


Navigation   (PDF)

Navigation refers to the method used to find information within a Web site. A navigation page is used primarily to help users locate and link to destination pages. A Web site's navigation scheme and features should allow users to find and access information effectively and efficiently. When possible, this means designers should keep navigation-only pages short. Designers should include site maps, and provide effective feedback on the user's location within the site. To facilitate navigation, designers should differentiate and group navigation elements and use appropriate menu types. It is also important to use descriptive tab labels, provide a clickable list of page contents on long pages, and add ‘glosses' where they will help users select the correct link. In well-designed sites, users do not get trapped in dead-end pages.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>User Interface>Sitemaps


Navigation: Left is Best

Web sites and Web applications require users to select from navigational options to access subsequent content pages. An important question relates to where the first navigational choices should be located on the page. Is the navigation better placed at the top of the page, on the left or right panels? If three clicks (i.e., three navigational level selections) are required to get to the desired content, should they be grouped together at the top, left, right, or split between different locations (e.g., select from the top, with the next selection[s] from the left, top or right)?

Bailey, Robert. Usability.gov (2006). Articles>Usability>User Centered Design


Optimizing the User Experience   (PDF)

Web sites should be designed to facilitate and encourage efficient and effective human-computer interactions. Designers should make every attempt to reduce the user's workload by taking advantage of the computer's capabilities. Users will make the best use of Web sites when information is displayed in a directly usable format and content organization is highly intuitive. Users also benefit from task sequences that are consistent with how they typically do their work, that do not require them to remember information for more than a few seconds, that have terminology that is readily understandable, and that do not overload them with information.

Usability.gov (2006). Articles>Usability>User Experience


Page Layout   (PDF)

All Web pages should be structured for ease of comprehension. This includes putting items on the page in an order that reflects their relative importance. Designers should place important items consistently, usually toward the top and center of the page. All items should be appropriately aligned on the pages. It is usually a good idea to ensure that the pages show a moderate amount of white space—too much can require considerable scrolling, while too little may provide a display that looks too 'busy.' It is also important to ensure that page layout does not falsely convey the top or bottom of the page, such that users stop scrolling prematurely.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>Document Design


Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines

Resources in usable web design for publishing medical research.

Usability.gov. Design>Web Design>Usability


Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines: A Report

The Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines were developed by the Communication Technologies Branch (CTB) of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Guidelines were developed to assist those involved in the creation of websites base their decisions on the current and best available evidence. The Guidelines are particularly relevant to the design of information-oriented sites, but can be applied across the wide spectrum of websites.

Usability.gov (2003). Design>Web Design>Usability


Research-Based Web Guidelines: Accessibility

Ensure that text and graphics are understandable when viewed without color. If designers depend on color to convey information, colorblind users and users with devices that have noncolor or nonvisual displays cannot receive the information. When foreground and background colors are close to the same hue, they may provide insufficient contrast on monochrome displays and for people with certain types of color deficits.

Usability.gov. Design>Web Design>Accessibility


Scrolling and Paging   (PDF)

Designers must decide, early in the design process, whether to create long pages that require extensive scrolling or shorter pages that will require users to move frequently from page to page (an activity referred to as paging). This decision will be based on considerations of the primary users and the type of tasks being performed. For example, older users tend to scroll more slowly than younger users; therefore, long scrolling pages may slow them down considerably. As another example, some tasks that require users to remember where information is located on a page may benefit from paging, while many reading tasks benefit from scrolling.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>Information Design


Search   (PDF)

Many Web sites allow users to search for information contained in the site. Users access the search capability by entering one or more keywords into an entry field--usually termed a 'search box.' When there are words in the Web site that match the words entered by users, users are shown where in the Web site those words can be found. Each page of a Web site should allow users to conduct a search. Usually it is adequate to allow simple searches without providing for the use of more advanced features. Users should be able to assume that both upper- and lowercase letters will be considered as equivalent when searching. The site's search capability should be designed to respond to terms typically entered by users. Users should be notified when multiple search capabilities exist.

Usability.gov (2006). Design>Web Design>Usability>Search


Server Log Analysis

Server log files are records of Web server activity (or server activity for any digital medium). They provide details about file requests to a server and the server response to those requests. Collecting and analyzing these files can provide: information about who is coming to your Web site; what information they're requesting; their navigation and behavior. What types of data you collect on your server depends on how it has been set up and defined by the technical staff.

Usability.gov (1998). Articles>Web Design>Usability>Log Analysis



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