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Web Usability

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That’s the term I’ve been looking for ever since I started toying with the front page of my website.  I initially thought that it was navigation that I had to address, whilst now it is clear that it is web usability, or rather ways of designing it. Unfortunately, I am no artist, which means that I have to adopt the engineering ideal of website design at the expense of the artistic ideal of expressing myself.

J. Nelson’s advice seems to be very sound, although the book is ancient in www terms.  I wonder whether I should get a copy of S. Krug’s text, too – the amazon reviews are more than positive.

It might seem that what these two authors talk about is self-evident and you do not really have to be explicitly told that, and yet I do manage to look at what I have created so far differently after having read their insightful comments.  For example, I have only recently realized that as a web designer you actually cater for several different audiences as opposed to a homogeneous group of users. It only seems obvious when you know it – when you haven’t verbalized this idea, it is unlikely you will take account of it. For example, when I think about my own website, this is what the situation is like, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. Those who visit the site can be classed into bots and people. The two groups can be further subdivided into

  • search engine bots (! that’s a good reason to learn more about SEO)
  • spam bots (! and that’s the reason to worry about security issues)
  • myself (! after all, what’s the point of keeping this thing up unless I can get around easily?)
  • family & close friends
  • chance acquaintances
  • former colleagues
  • people I work with now
  • EFL/ESL teachers I am personally acquainted with
  • EFL/ESL teachers I am not personally acquainted with
  • former students
  • current students
  • former classmates & coursemates
  • current coursemates
  • people I don’t know and who are just browsing
  • prospects who are actively searching for an EFL/ESL teacher
  • non-native English speakers that are fluent in English
  • non-native English speakers that can speak some English
  • non-native English speakers that cannot speak English at all
  • native English speakers
  • adults
  • children
  • males
  • females
  • healthy people
  • people with disabilities
  • nice people
  • freaks & idiots
  • experienced Internet-users
  • inexperienced web surfers
  • people who have broadband Internet
  • dial-up victims
  • etc

The list is not complete, but the point is that I have to define my priorities:

  • it is impossible to make everybody happy – tastes differ
  • it is unnecessary(!) to please everyone at all times
  • it is immature to expect unanimous support or encouragement
  • it is inevitable that someone will plagiarize something sooner or later

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