A List Apart

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Topic: Usability

  • Home Page Goals

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    Home pages may get plenty of design attention, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need improvement.

  • Web 3.0

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    Web 2.0 is a fresh-faced starlet on the intertwingled longtail to the disruptive experience of tomorrow.  Web 3.0 thinks you are so 2005.

  • Thinking Outside the Grid

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    CSS has broken the manacles that kept us chained to grid-based design…so why do so few sites deviate from the grid? Molly E. Holzschlag can tell us that the answer has something to do with airplanes, urban planning, and British cab drivers.

  • Sensible Forms: A Form Usability Checklist

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    Sometimes it’s the little things that drive you nuts. As many of us have probably noticed during this season of holiday shopping, usability problems in online forms can be infuriating. Brian Crescimanno helps solve the problem with a checklist of form-usability recommendations.

  • Power to the People

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    Relentlessly simple solutions to complex design problems can be the difference between an average experience and a great one. D. Keith Robinson reminds web designers and developers that ease of use is more important than technological sophistication.

  • Design Choices Can Cripple a Website

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    Do you test your designs? If not, Nick Usborne wants you to take responsibility for your design choices and the very quantifiable effect they can have on websites that are built for business.

  • Ambient Findability: Findability Hacks

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    In this excerpt from his new book, Ambient Findability, Peter Morville explains why findability is a required element of good design and engineering—and what that means for you.

  • Improving Link Display for Print

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    Some time ago, Eric Meyer showed you how to add URIs to the printed version of your pages using print styles. Sometimes, though, too many inline URIs can make pages hard to read. Aaron Gustafson comes to the rescue with a JavaScript add-on that’ll have you loving your linkage again.

  • Complex Dynamic Lists: Your Order Please

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    Help your site’s visitors reach their goals quickly with a dynamic menu that takes its cue from the Mac OS X Finder.

  • Enhance Usability by Highlighting Search Terms

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    Google’s cache offers users a copy of your website with their search terms highlighted. You can do the same thing and make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for — whether they’re coming from an external search engine or your own site search — by making their search terms easy to spot.

  • Let Them Eat Cake

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    A growing debate pits accessibility against usability. From our point of view, it’s like pitting peanut butter against jelly. This article helps you create a page that is both usable and accessible, saving readers the trouble of scrolling with a little help from JavaScript and the Document Object Model.

  • The Table Ruler

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    Make your site easier to use by giving your visitors a virtual “ruler” to guide and track their progress down long data tables. With a pinch of JavaScript and a dash of the DOM, your table rows will light up as your visitors hover over them.

  • Accessible Pop-up Links

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    Sometimes we have to use pop-ups — so we might as well do them right. This article will show you how to make them more accessible and reliable while simplifying their implementation.

  • Helping Your Visitors: a State of Mind

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    Even the simplest website is harder to figure out than a catalog or magazine. We all know how to “use” a catalog: start at the front cover and keep turning the pages. But with every new site we visit, we have to “learn” how it works, how its “pages” turn, how to find what we’re looking for. Text that takes visitors’ needs into account can help guide them through the maze.

  • Designing for Context with CSS

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    The medium is the message: Imagine providing unique information exclusively for people who read your site via a web-enabled cell phone — then crafting a different message for those who are reading a printout instead of the screen. Let your context guide your content. All it takes is some user-centric marketing savvy and a dash of CSS.

  • The Perfect 404

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    No matter how carefully you design and structure your site, visitors will sometimes request missing, moved, or non-existent pages. A well tempered 404 error page will plunge these visitors back into the flow of your site. Ian Lloyd shares strategies for crafting the perfect 404.

  • Tackling Usability Gotchas in Large-scale Site Redesigns

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    Redesigns can solve old usability problems while creating new ones that must be solved in turn. From the lessons of the ALA 3.0 redesign comes this quick study in remapping content without frustrating readers.

  • Keeping Navigation Current With PHP

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    Turning unordered lists into elegant navigational menus has become a new favorite pastime for many web designers. A dash of PHP can add intelligence to your CSS-styled menu.

  • Slash Forward (Some URLs are Better Than Others)

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    Some URLs are better than others: easier for visitors to remember, easier for designers and developers when it comes time to change the technology that drives the site. Waferbaby neatly and briefly considers the effect of web addresses on usability, design, and ease of maintenance and technological transition.

  • A Backward Compatible Style Switcher

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    You asked for it, you’ve got it: an Open Source alternate style sheet switcher that actually works in Netscape 4. No, really. Daniel Ludwin shows how it’s done.