New Rules Of Web Design

Darlene Fichter (University of Saskatchewan) introduces Jeff Wisniewski (University of Pittsburgh) at the start of his talk.

Web site designs don’t just come out of thin air!  There are some standards and best practices that should be followed, and some of the assumptions previously followed may not be the best ones now.  Jeff Wisniewski reviewed a number of issues to be considered and the rules that should be followed.    Although design is an inexact science, there are several decades worth of research in usability, credibility, interface design, and human-computer interfaces available, and they are highly useful in site design.  Here are some of the points that Jeff made:

  • We often point to Google as a model of simplicity and good site design.  But it is a single-purpose site, and most library sites serve multiple purposes.  So we can question the rule of simplicity as we provide a rich user experience.
  • Although content is king, site design is very important.  If users get an initial negative impression, it is likely to affect their entire experience with the site.
  • All content may be created equal, but it’s important to emphasize some so that users have a clear starting point.
  • Constantly make incremental changes to your site so that a complete redesign won’t be necessary very frequently.
  • Support for all browsers is important for basic content, but it is not necessary to make value-added content backward compatible.
  • The common belief that the top of the page is prime "real estate" is false.  Because of the wide proliferation of banner ads, the area above the main headline has become relatively useless.
  • Scrolling is not necessarily bad; users will happily scroll if there is a clue that valuable information lies "below the fold".

Don Hawkins
Columnist, Information Today and IL 2007 Blog Coordinator

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