When designing an instructional course or website, designing not only includes the process of : Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation and Evaluation, but it also applies learning and instructional theories to ensure quality.

"To create software and web-based resources that are easy to use by individuals of all abilities is best achieved by keeping in mind the concepts of usability, readability and accessibility."
 


Terminology:
Defined and Interpreted

 

Usability

 

Usability is the measure of making sure someone of any ability and with any experience can use the website for its intended purpose.

KNOWLEDGE

  • Use consistent presentation

  • Provide site map and users position (path)

  • Define key terms, abbreviations, acronyms and specialized language

  • Be predictable - users should be aware of what they must do next

TASKS

  •  The number of actions should be small, so users can carry out simple tasks

  • Information feedback about the task they performed is helpful

  • Enable easy searches

CLARITY

  • Make sure users know what will happen when they press a button or select an option based on the information at hand

  • Link text should be meaningful but brief

  • Good ALT text for all graphics

ELEGANCE

  • Don't use unnecessary ornamentation or embellishments

  • Use common words, not "techno-jargon"

 

 

Readability

 

After reading many articles on the subject,  I am offering my  opinion on the definition of  readability. I believe it is a gauge of  how well the author/page designer communicates information, through the medium of a web page, to the reader. Readability is influenced by many elements of page design and writing.

Content

  • Summarizes information first, later goes into detail.

  •  Content is written clearly and concisely with a unique main idea/purpose/theme.

  • No wasted words is written succinctly.

  • Incorporates various elements of interest in addition to text: colors, graphics. Does not have endless lines of text.

  • Tries to limit content to one main idea per paragraph

Organization & Layout

  • Logically organizes ideas into sections or chunks

  • Uses a consistent layout from page to page

  • Visually organizes the page into definable sections.

  • Pages are relatively short, no more than two or three windows.

  • Incorporates white (blank space) for relief from clutter

  • Defines sections by using sub-headings

  • Utilizes bulleted lists

Utilization of type

  • Control width of text flowing across screen

  • Keep paragraphs short for improved comprehension

  • Adequate space between paragraphs; aid in delineating sections

  • Adequate contrast of text against background of page

Accessibility

 

Accessibility is a sticky issue for many websites.  There are two major standards that are used to judge accessibility: web content accessibility guidelines and U.S. section 508 guidelines.   While most U.S. educational sites rely on section 508, we are dealing with one private site; thus we will be using the web content accessibility guidelines.  The guidelines have more than twelve separate categories, we have broken it down to the four, that we feel best represent the spirit of the standards.

 Ensure user access to all content

  • Both manual and automatic selection of which conditional content to render are important to accessibility.

    Both structured navigation and unstructured access to content are important to accessibility.

  • Rendering according to format specification is preferred, but a source view of text content may be necessary for access (e.g., because of user-side error conditions, authoring errors, inadequate specification, or incorrect user agent implementation). For example, in order to find necessary information, the user may have to look at Uniform Resource Identifiers (URI's) for information, HTML comments, XML element names, or script data.
  • Configuration and control of rendering are important for access. For instance, the user agent should respect authoring synchronization cues for content that changes over time, but also needs to allow the user to control the time intervals when user input might otherwise be impossible

 Provide Navigation Mechanisms

 There are two types of navigation direct Navigation and structured Navigation.  Direct navigation is the most familiar.  This allows users to use a mouse to navigate the sight.  Unfortunately some disabled users use structured navigation when they use the tab button to navigate the site.

Allow configuration not to render some content that may reduce accessibility

Ensure that the user may turn off rendering of content (e.g., audio, video, scripts) that may reduce accessibility by obscuring other content or disorienting the user.

Provide accessible user agent documentation and help.

  • Accessibility of the documentation 

  • Minimal requirements of what must be documented;  documentation should include much more to explain how to install, get help for, use, or configure the user agent
  • Organization of the documentation.