TechEx Week 4: Website Usability & Assorted Tools
It is important to consider the needs of your audience when you create a webpage. What information will they be looking for? Will they be able to find it on your webpage? What devices are they using to access your site? Does the site adapt to all devices, or is there a corresponding, use-friendly mobile site or app for mobile devices? If you do decide to create a mobile site, an accessible link to the full desktop site should be included on the main page.
Above the fold refers to the content that can be viewed on the screen in a browser without scrolling. You want to try to put your most important information, or links to that information, in an area of the screen that will be visible. With so many users accessing the web from devices of varying screen size, above the fold can mean something different for each user. This is also tricky because you don’t want to crowd your site with too much content.
We can try to guess what our users want to see on our websites, but the best way to learn what is actually being used on a webpage is to use an analytics program such as Google Analytics analytics.google.com. This free program allows users to track the number of visits, the links people are clicking on, how long they are staying on the page, the browser and device they are using, and much more.
If your community serves older adults, you probably do not want to make your text size too small. You may also want to eliminate complicated multi-tiered menus. These can be difficult to navigate for patrons with arthritis and/or poor mouse skills. Some patrons may be visually impaired and there are design issues to consider for screen readers. The Alliance for Access to Computing Careers has put together 30 Web Accessibility Tips: http://www.washington.edu/accesscomputing/get-informed/publications/brochures/30-web-accessibility-tips that will help you get started learning about website accessibility.
Large companies often pay for website usability testing. Libraries can create their own informal usability tests by coming up with a list of tasks that they would like library patrons to accomplish. Examples can include finding the library hours, logging into their library account, finding the link to download an ebook, etc. Library employees can then randomly approach patrons and ask if they are willing to participate in helping the library develop their website. Those conducting the test will immediately see where the study participants are experiencing difficulties. These items can be noted, and changes to the webpage can be made based on immediate patron observations and feedback.
Don't Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (3rd Edition) by Steve Krug
Rocket Surgery Made Easy: The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Finding and Fixing Usability Problems Paperback by Steve Krug http://www.amazon.com/Rocket-Surgery-Made-Easy-Do-It-Yourself/dp/032165…
Google Tools for Web Development
Google has many great, free tools for web developers. Here are a few to get you started:
Google Calendars www.google.com/calendars
Google Forms docs.google.com/forms
Google Analytics www.google.com/analytics
Google Fonts http://www.google.com/fonts/
In-Browser Web Development Tools
Chrome Developer Tools developer.chrome.com/devtools/index
Firefox Firebug addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/firebug/