usability and interfaces

Harriet Tippet htippet at
Wed Dec 6 11:33:40 EST 1995

Barb, do you want to respond to this?

>For my Human Factors class, I am writing a paper on WWW-based interfaces
>for community networks (including library-based community information
>systems).  (This is a neat class, btw, that has been an overview of human
>computer interaction with an emphasis on psychological factors.)  I've
>noticed that community networks take many different approaches to interface
>design, and I'm curious about usability issues.  I'd like to hear
>PERSONALLY from folks who design and/or maintain the WWW pages for
>community networks; my paper will incorporate comments (unless you tell me
>not to, which is o.k. too) and will be *online* even before it is in paper
>(it's easier to do the examples that way!).  Next semester, I plan to do a
>more formal online survey (hey! are WWW forms cool or what?), but after
>struggling with this for awhile I found I couldn't really shape the
>questions properly without talking to folks first.  Hey, maybe this can be
>an American Libraries column?
>My email address is <kschneid at>
>Some of the questions I have are:
>Who designs and maintains your WWW page?
>What threshold user group have you targeted with your WWW design?  E.g.,
>usable by children (what age?), by adults, by new Americans?  Usable with
>character-based browsers (e.g., lynx), with graphical browsers, only with
>What are some of the design principles you've incorporated, and what were
>your rationales?  (Examples might include ensuring the page can be read by
>users with limited vision, using simple vocabulary, icons that "look like"
>what they do, minimizing scrolldown, standardizing presentation, gobacks,
>ensuring each document has standard headers and footers)
>What kind of usability testing do you do?  Do you have staff try out pages,
>do you select public users, do you do surveys?  Anything else?
>How else do you find out that your page has problem areas (and strengths)?
>Do you have feedback buttons, notice users ask specific ranges of
>questions, track usage, look where the hits are?  Anything else?
>Any other issues I haven't addressed, or should think of including in the
>formal survey?
>The little technozealot now hailing from beautiful downtown Ann Arbor
>(awesome public library!  The cookbooks and music CDs alone are to die
>for!) --
>Karen G. Schneider * kschneid at *
>Cybrarian * PhD Student, UM SILS * Columnist, American Libraries
>Forthcoming: The Internet Access Cookbook (e-mail Neal-Schuman at
>Technozealot* Iconoclast * Problem Child * Aging Disgracefully

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