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Web Design

Universal Usability

Design with restraint.

Senior instruction designer at Dartmouth University, Sarah Horton approaches web design to ensure universal usability http://universalusability.com/index.html). Her primary message is to keep web page design simple. Ms. Horton notes that:

"We should take the risk and design with restraint" (Horton, 2006).

The primary objective in web design is to convey a message. The message must be clear and easy to access. Simple designs are easier to load and easier to maintain. The below is a synopsis of Ms. Horton's primary guidelines for Universal Usability.

Design so that all users are enable to succeed.
  • Make use of the alt image tags and key stroke access to forms and windows,
  • Make text flexible,
  • Offer users an html alternative to FLASH and other interactive components.
  • Keep text as text and keep images as images. Do not hold vital content to the web message in an image.
  • Use mark-up language to differentiate areas on a page, not just by visual inspection but by html as well.
  • Design for the lowest common browser denominator - make sure css does not render a page illegible - make the meaning apparent.
  • Use images only as needed.

Shiva Naidu, of Usability News, offers the best approximation of SIWS guidelines. Naidu (2005) evaluated three child-centered web pages and found child satisfaction and usability was dependent on the number of choices offered. Naidu also found that page content should remain visible and not require vertical scrolling.