principles of usability:
The web is not "intuitive":
It takes time to learn, and to feel comfortable, and to enjoy it.
Not all of your users have reached that stage.
Reading web pages is not easy:
We all know we're much more comfortable relaxing
with a printout, than reading the same page onscreen.
There is a reason for this - a screen is physically difficult to look at.
You can't control the browser:
people may have graphics turned off,
using a different size font than you may be using,
using a different size/resolution monitor,
may be blind and *listeing* to your site with a
screen reader, may have a slow connection which
makes your page show up in a different order
of elements than how you see it.
You can't control the user:
People will view your pages in a different order,
with a different goal, and different ideas in mind,
than will you and your website developers.
Doing cool stuff:
Don't think in terms of "let's use frames" or "let's have
a flash movie".
Think in terms of "what do i want to do to make our site
more useful, more attractive, more searchable, easier to use?"
Then weigh the appropriate technologies for that goal.
some things to think about
Typically, users score lower than designers on spatial reasoning
and visualization tests.
Most web designers are young, and so have perfect vision.
Tiny text doesn't bother them as much as it bothers people on the
other side of 40.
Designers also tend to own expensive, high-quality monitors
that are easier on the eyes.
While creating a website, designers don't actually read the
information on the pages. So they aren't aware of how
their design may actually affect using the site.
[kids] are typically more immediate than adults and tend to act
on what's visible.
"Lower-literacy users exhibit very different reading behaviors than
higher-literacy users: they plow text rather than scan it, and they
miss page elements due to a narrower field of view."
This information was summarized from:
In the United States alone, 8 to 12 million people have
severely impaired vision.
- NYT News Service, 10 April 2002
The Word on website usability is at: