Indulgent and possibly dangerous

User-Centered Design and Web Development

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I’m sure I’ve read this before for many different classes, but it is always worth reading once more.

The need for usability in any design (not just web-related) cannot be stressed enough. This article emphasizes the importance of making your designs work with the mental model of what your user is trying to do. Anything that doesn’t support this in your design needs to be chucked out the window (make sure nobody’s standing there first though). Aside from visual clarity and familiarity (hey, that rhymes), the article devotes a lot of attention to something that always seems to end up becoming an afterthought: your text. Your text will make the difference between a polished, professional site and a last-ditch effort to get that portfolio piece in before Week 9.

A few key points worth noting:

  • Text should be skimmable.
    Information should be ‘chunked’ into the most concise, quick reads you can manage. And then a little more off the top for good measure.
  • Descriptive text should be… descriptive.
    Navigation links need to be as transparent as possible about where they are going to take the user. An example:
    If faced with a navigation bar that offered links marked only as “The Beginning,” “The Scrolls,” “The Desire,” and “The Messengers,” how the heck would you find the latest news? The company contact information?
  • Language should be plain and simple.
  • Text should be legible.
    This is a little more of a design consideration, but people aren’t going to read your text, even if it meets all the nice criteria above, if they can’t see it very well. Properly-contrasted text, set at the right column width in an easy to read font (not too small, not to decorative please!), makes your readers more comfortable. More comfortable readers are happy readers. Happy readers will stay on your page and find out what it is you are trying to tell them.
  • Avoid humor and other culturally-specific references.
    Really? I disagree. Obviously you don’t want to alienate users with caustic diatribes, but I think in the right situation it helps people feel more comfortable because they can relate. If you’re running a global empire, that’s one thing, but I think a site with a narrower scope can afford to tailor their language to that audience, and that includes humor.

I think it’s safe to say that this blog fails at all of these points. I love me some ambiguous language links!


Written by rawcookies

August 2, 2011 at 11:06 am

Posted in Design, Readings

Tagged with ,

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