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Web Design & Usability Guidelines

by SMD 


The US National Cancer Institute has made public their extensive research on issues surrounding web design and usability. There is a vast amount of info on a variety of topics. These include:

  • The Design Process
  • Design Considerations
  • Content / Organization
  • Titles and Headings
  • Page Length
  • Page Layout
  • Font Size
  • Reading and Scanning
  • Links
  • Graphics
  • Search
  • Navigation
  • Connection / Screen Size
  • Accessibility

Each topic contains a lot of what they describe as “Evidence-Based” [the best kind!] research.

Why is the National Cancer Institute making this information available [it started as internal research for use on its own websites]?

…Because NCI designs and manages a significant number of cancer-related information Web sites, these guidelines were developed specifically to assist NCI Web managers, designers, and authors improve their overall design efforts and to help them base their decisions on evidence-based approaches. However, since the general principles of good design and usability are applicable to anyone who works with information Web sites, we decided to make our guidelines available to other federal agencies and to the general public.

Not only is this an essential read for anyone designing or managing a website, but also it can give you an excellent look at how to perform research. The principles and methods that they have applied to producing this body of knowledge could be used to refine and improve any business or venture.

Here’s an abbreviated set of process guidelines that they used:

  1. Reviewed major sets of guidelines
  2. Identified research to validate guidelines
  3. Identified new guidelines
  4. Filled in the gaps
  5. Tested the guidelines
  6. Established levels of evidence
  7. Assessed relative importance

Essentially it is the same process steps that I would use to create a new company or design any business system [like a niche website for example]…just substitute ‘business rules’ for ‘guidelines’. Get more details on each step here.

Overall a very impressive set of standards and guidelines for webmasters and online business owners.

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