New Rules for Web Design
Jeff looked at some of the old “rules” of web-design and discussed whether or not they are still relevant.
Design is an inexact science, but there are decades of research in usability, credibility, interface design, and hci; a lot of questions have been answered
- rich and interactive
- the user experience
depends on functions – google can be simple because they have essentially one function; we need to give our users a richer experience
Content is king
- But, design matters A LOT
- novice users judge superficially and quickly!
- Professional design = increased credibility
All content is created equal?
- Design for what your users are doing
- emphasize the highest priority tasks so that users have a clear starting point – Nielsen
By the numbers:
Rule of Seven (categories manageable by users):
- guideline, not a rule
- persuasive evidence both ways
- answer depends on context
- more than 9 – maybe your site lacks focus?
3 click rule:
- is dead
- design for SCENT
- users will happily click so long as they feel they are on the right path
Design for 800×600
- NO! optimize for 1024×768
- what of other platforms? (phones, handhelds, etc.) Use CSS media types
- flexible as opposed to fixed design
- majority users browse with 24-bit color rendering
- RIP websafe palette? Still consider:
- file size
- alternative platforms
For redesign inspiration:
- DON’T check other library websites!!
- Standards, conventions, and user expectations are established outside of library land…Jacob’s law (users spend most of time on sites other than your site)
How often to redesign?
- iterative, evolutionary change
- revolutionary change is disruptive
- a/b testing: post two versions of page with ONE difference (placement of item on page, e.g.);compare use
- sometimes a tear down is required
- think about major destinations on the web, amazon, ebay, yahoo, etc. – constant iterative change
Follow your own conventions
- is reference “reference” on your website (n.b. It shouldn’t be!)
- carry web conventions through physical space and other publications
- style guidelines across print & electronic media
But follow established web conventions
- home link upper left
- clickable banner
- contact us link
- placement of navigation
greater bandwidth= design freedom?
- Two trends: more high-speed access
- more non-traditional devices on relatively slower networks (apple iPhone)
I must support all browsers
- for basic content – yes!
- Accessibility is critical and the right thing to do
- for value-added content, style and interactivity?
- Graded support aka progressive enhancement
providing a text-only version of your homepage or site?
- Separate presentation and content with css and you won’t need a separate version
Avoid css for layout…it’s buggy
- yes, but no longer enough to justify not using it
- stop using tables for layout
top of page is prime real estate?
- Actually, it’s useless space…banner blindness
- Nielsen: people have a tendency to never look at a slim rectangular are that’s above the page’s main headline
- will very likely be blocked – nothing mission critical
- can be useful when linking to supporting information
Flash is evil?
- Flash introductions are evil
- Flash can be used for effective animation and interactivity
- Example: http://www.library.pitt.edu/etd_tutorials/
- raise usability considerations
- They’re slower, not scanable (preventing users from getting an overview)
Opening links in new browser window
- is sometimes okay: external links, non-web docs: PDFs, etc.
- help files
- TELL users
- tabbed browsers make this less of an issue
Never create an “auto forward” it breaks the back button
- server side redirects are best
- Set auto forward time high enough to allow users to use back button
Scrolling is bad
- users scroll if there is a clue that there is something below the fold
- use the fashionable “cut off” look – content doesn’t break evenly, so users have an indicator that more content exists
Keep it above the fold
- true for most important content
- 76% of users scrolled and a good portion scroll to the bottom, despite height of window
Images of people
- generally increase trust (unless they’re really good-looking people)
- naturally draw attention – this may not be a good thing…distraction
- people, labeled, increase credibility the most
RIA=rich internet application (ajax, flex technologies)
good sites & features;