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Website Design and Usability
Brain Snack

South Central Library System CE Program
July 14, 2006

Here are some resources that can set you on your way to a usable and accessible website. The presentation slides are also available.



Creating A Website with Style and Substance
Part 1: Substance (pdf)
Part 2: Style (pdf)
A mini-workshop by Stef Morrill from SCLS's PR Toolkit. Part 1: Substance covers navigation, page structure, fonts, formatting, color, and images. Part 2: Substance helps you define your site's mission, audience, and goals; choose, collect, organize, and polish content; and make the site interesting, professional, consistent and navigable. Includes bibliographical references.

Dive Into Accessibility: 30 Days To a More Accessible Web Site
An excellent online book by Mark Pilgrim, structured as a 6-week mini-course in design principles, in just a few minutes per day. You can skip the parts about specific fixes for certain tools (like Movable Type).

Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines
A no-nonsense guide to 50 of the top web design and usability guidelines based on research studies and supporting information from the field. Last updated 2002, but still pretty solid.



(Links go to the book's LINKcat record.)

Krug, Steve. Don't Make Me Think: a Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
The title says it all about this brief but eminently useful book.

Nielsen, Jakob. Designing Web Usability
The bible of web usability. See also Nielsen's website,, particulary the Alertbox newsletters and Top Ten lists.

Strunk, William. Elements of Style
The classic guide to writing clearly and concisely.


Online Articles

Dogmas Are Meant to be Broken
This interview with Eric Reiss, a prominent information architect, includes ten design rules he calls "Web Dogma '06."

Doing a Content Inventory
A blog essay to help you identify and sort through the stuff (information, images, files) on your site before you start redesigning it. Includes a handy sample Excel file.

The Dreaded Redesign
An essay at the jargon-free, library-centric weblog about the process of redesigning a website.

NICS - Guidelines for Accessibility
These guidelines were produced for the Northern Ireland Civil Service in May 2004 by a UK web usability and accessibility consulting firm.

Surf's Up: Surfing the Internet with JAWS
A tutorial written for users of JAWS screenreading software. Skim this rather specialized document for an inkling of visually impaired users' perspectives, particularly the parts on images, links, navigational elements, tables, and forms.

W3C QA - Quality Tips for Webmasters
Just over a dozen short tips from the World Wide Web Consortium, with clear explanations of each.


Nifty Tools

All of these services are free online. None substitute for human judgement and diligence, but all will point out what needs attention. Try them with your favorite websites!

Cynthia Says identifies errors related to accessibility standards and guidelines.

HTML Tidy Online makes messy HTML code more legible.

Juicy Studio Readability Test gives Gunning Fog, Flesch Reading Ease, and Flesch-Kincaid readability scores for text.

LINKcat Web URL Scrubber takes links to LINK catalog records and creates a shorter, permanent link for use on a web site.

Vischeck simulates what a colorblind person sees.

W3C Markup Validation Service finds HTML errors that must be fixed.


For SCLS Members

SCLS Citizen Technology Advisory Group
SCLS has contacted library supporters who are willing to advise member libraries on technology topics, including web site critiques.

SCLS-web List
An SCLS mailing list where webmasters can discuss techniques, share resources, tips and tricks for maintaining a high-quality site.