A List Apart


Topic: Usability

  • Thinking Outside the Grid

    by Molly E. Holzschlag · Issue 209 ·

    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.


    by Bill Humphries · Issue 70 ·

    Database-driven content management systems are everywhere. And with them come URLs only a robot could love. Bill Humphries shows how to transform CGI-generated URLs into meaningful user interfaces through the power of URL mapping.

  • Enhance Usability by Highlighting Search Terms

    by Matt Riggott, Brian Suda · Issue 186 ·

    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.

  • Complex Dynamic Lists: Your Order Please

    by Christian Heilmann · Issue 200 ·

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

  • A Backward Compatible Style Switcher

    by Daniel Ludwin · Issue 136 ·

    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.

  • Slash Forward (Some URLs are Better Than Others)

    by waferbaby · Issue 138 ·

    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.

  • Information vs. Experience

    by Emmanuel King Turner · Issue 125 ·

    The conflict between presentation and structure reveals two views of the web. Which one’s winning?

  • Fragments (of Time)

    by Pär Almqvist · Issue 64 ·

    The best web interfaces take time – the one asset that seems to be in perpetually short supply. Leading Scandinavian web developer Pär Almqvist presents a time-based perspective on web interfaces and the network economy.

  • A Failure to Communicate

    by George Olsen · Issue 103 ·

    It’s ironic that, as professionals dedicated to clear communication, information architects and user interface designers are having such trouble communicating with each other. Information designer George Olsen digs up the roots of communication breakdown and explores the three aspects of web design.

  • Beyond Usability and Design: The Narrative Web

    by Mark Bernstein · Issue 106 ·

    Crafting a narrative web: To succeed profoundly, Bernstein says, websites must go beyond usability and design, deeply engaging readers by turning their journeys through the site into rich, memorable, narrative experiences.

  • The Curse of Information Design

    by Scott Jason Cohen · Issue 96 ·

    With the rise of information architecture, user experience consultants, and usability experts, the fate of a website is no longer left to chance, and its design is no longer a function of organic processes. That may be good for business, but is it really good for the web? Scott Cohen has his doubts.

  • Daemon Skins: Separating Presentation from Content

    by Mark Newhouse · Issue 87 ·

    There ’s more than one way to skin a website. Newhouse demonstrates creative scripting techniques that give viewers and designers the control they crave.

  • The Declination of Independence

    by Ryan Holsten, Michael Krisher, Brandon Oelling · Issue 102 ·

    Three web designers discuss trendiness and innovation in design, and list 15 sites that made a difference in the year 2000.

  • Experience Design

    by Bob Jacobson · Issue 77 ·

    It’s time for web designers to peek over the cubicle and start sharing ideas with their peers in related design disciplines. Jacobson suggests one way to do that in this overview of the emerging Experience Design paradigm.

  • Keeping Navigation Current With PHP

    by Jason Pearce · Issue 162 ·

    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.

  • Walking Backwards: Supporting Non-Western Languages on the Web

    by Shoshannah L. Forbes · Issue 65 ·

    And you think you?ve got problems. Try building web sites in a bi-directional language like Hebrew or Arabic. Israeli web developer Shoshannah L. Forbes discusses the mind-boggling hardships involved, and looks at what the latest browsers are doing about it.

  • Usability experts are from Mars, graphic designers are from Venus

    by Curt Cloninger · Issue 74 ·

    Usability mavens like Jakob Nielsen think the web is an ill-used database. Graphic designers like Kioken think it is a fledgling multimedia platform. Could both groups be right? New ALA author Curt Cloninger explains why usability experts are from Mars, graphic designers are from Venus. This one's a hottie.

  • Language: The Ultimate User Interface

    by Julia Hayden · Issue 59 ·

    Words. Language. Meaning. They’re a nutritious part of your complete website. So why do so many webmakers treat language like an afterthought? Julia Hayden explores ways to make words work.

  • Tackling Usability Gotchas in Large-scale Site Redesigns

    by Jeffrey Zeldman · Issue 163 ·

    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.

  • The Perfect 404

    by Ian Lloyd · Issue 168 ·

    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.