word & image
This guide deals with site design: empirical studies,
standards and debate about what works online, what doesn't.
contents of this guide
The following pages cover -
texts - major writings about the design of sites
and the design process
& image - the use of text & graphics (including
charts and diagrams) to convey information online. The
page highlights studies about optimal fonts. It also
looks at offline document design, important since many
people skim sites then rely on a printout, rather than
studies - major studies, bibliographies, professional
associations and other sources of information about
the interaction between computers and people. It points
to empirical studies about menu design and the placement
of associative links
and testing - comments about online design standards
(still contentious) and terminology, along with an introduction
to the web site testing sector: focus groups, gurus,
eyeball tracking ...
- the web design industry
- work on site architecture and design elements that
transcend borders, of importance since not everyone
shares the same symbolic language or perceptions about
- the "new cybertariat" or just business as
- questions about choosing your web designer
is a complementary guide on accessibility
legislation and standards.
A separate note considers
Designs Act (intellectual property) protection for the
appearance of manufactured products.
aesthetics, usability and utility
Sadly, many websites are driven by 'gee whiz' technology
or by the designer's ego, rather than an appreciation
of what works. Few have a strategic dimension: attention
to issues such as branding, updating of content, privacy,
liability and offline service. This guide points to information
about site design.
Usability guru Jakob Nielsen, arguing that good design
is a precondition for success online, suggests
that it embraces usability and utility.
Utility relates to the design's functionality (does it
do what users need?).
Usability includes factors such as -
- How easy is it for users to accomplish basic tasks
the first time they encounter the design?
- Once users have learned the design, how quickly can
they perform tasks?
- When users return to the design after a period of
not using it, how easily can they reestablish proficiency?
- How many errors do users make, how severe are these
errors, and how easily can they recover from the errors?
- How pleasant is it to use the design?
The 2006 Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds
to make a good first impression! paper
by Gitte Lindgaard, Fernandes, Dudek & Brown argues
that users form an impression in 50 milliseconds, substantially
determining how they evaluate a site, even after prolonged
next page (key
writings about web design)