Design Criteria: How do you know if your Web site is good?
The following discussion of design criteria is heavily based on
notes made by Jason Armbruster from various articles in Communications
of the ACM 38(8), August, 1995. Additional ideas resulting
from discussions among IRM staff have been incorporated.
Some initial considerations:
- Quality content must be defined from the perspective of the
- The design process should include discussion with intended
- It often helps to say "I see you" or "This
is who I think the reader is."
- Usability testing tests whether designers' assumptions about
the user are correct.
- Assume change. Build the Web site to accommodate it.
- Is it easy to tell when something new has been created?
- In a multi-a outhor system, can changes be tracked/restored?
- Does the development and installation of enhancements put
existing pages at risk?
- Are history and backtracking provided so that users are not
afraid to explore?
- Is it easy to get feedback from users? (Do users have "mailto"
parameters set correctly?)
- Do users understand what will be done with the feedback they
- Is there a good way to guarantee feedback on experiments?
- Do you actually get any feedback?
- Can users see the feedback that others have provided?
Coherence is a mater of putting the documents you are publishing
in a larger context.
- "If authors want readers to construct relationships exceeding
the level of local coherence, they have to incorporate cues ...
that increase global coherence."
- To appropriately indicate semantic relations between information
units and to reduce the impression of fragmentation
- Use typed link labels on HTML anchors; do not use "click
here" as a label for an anchor
- Indicate equivalencies between information units
- Preserve the context of information units
- Use higher order information units.
- Visualize the structure of the document.
- Include cues into the visualization of structure which show
the reader's current position, the way that led to this position
and navigational options for moving on.
- Provide a set of complementary navigation facilities which
cover aspects of direction and distance
- Use a stable screen layout with windows of fixed position
and default size
- What you clicked on is also the title of the page you jump
- "Treat conceptually similar elements in a similar fashion
and conceptually different elements differently"
- How abundant is the information and the number of ways to
- Can users access "data-rich" HTMLs as data (e.g.
- How accessible is the information and how easy are operations
- Can users guess the meaning and purpose of whatever(content
or navigational element) is being presented?
- How well can the user anticipate the outcome of a given operation?
- How often are slices or pages reused in other contexts? (This
promotes both consistency and predictability)
- What is the user's overall feeling about an application's