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Design for Usability


Many of these barriers to effective communication and usability could be minimized with site planning. What is the purpose of the site - to entertain or to inform? To call to action or to provide a unique database service? Who is the audience - are they under 18 or older than 55?

The answers to these questions may allow greater flexibility on the part of the designer. For example, a corporate intranet with Netscape as the company browser allows the designer to take greater advantage of "netscapisms" without negatively affecting site usability.

Traditional economics (and Mr. Ford) said, "a car is a car is a car" (a web site is a web site is a web site). That is, consumers would have the same demand for a new black Porche as a new lime green Suzuki. We know this assumption is false (for most people, anyway). Our wants/needs/desires are not universally the same.

If we can accept that premise for consumer goods, why not acknowledge that the web is no different? A visitor is not a visitor is not a visitor. How can we best serve the needs of a varied group and the sponsor or host of the site? By conforming with accepted and tested communications techniques that minimize noise and increase the odds that the message heard by the visitor is the one intended by the sender. By making our sites usable and accessible to all.

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    Copyright Kathy E. Gill, 1996 and 1997. Comments?

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