Hi. I’ve been reading Jakob Nielsen’s Homepage Usability book and have made some modifications to my sidebar to make some of my stuff a little more findable. Any of you rss readers who wants to remind themselves about the lovely orangeness of my home page, here’s a link: librarian.net. My to do list includes getting some solid archive links up, and getting my tag cloud visible. The current incarnation of the tag cloud just shows my top ten tags which, while interesting, doesn’t tell the whole story.
I have been reading a lot of books about accessible design lately. This started around the time that I got sent this story about the National Library for the Blind in Norway and some of the design flaws that make it very hard for the visually disabled to get into, much less use. The Vermont Technical College has a lot of these books on access. Sadly, I am one of the only people to have checked them out in the last decade. As an aside, I think at this point I would have a very hard time going back to a library where they didn’t have datestamps in the back of the book. I think libraries keeping circulation info “secret” — not on purpose, but by ILS system design — is a decline in information-sharing with patrons, and a shame. Here are the books I have read, with links to my reviews.
And, of course, let’s remember how to make our web sites accessible. Jacob Nielsen has come out with lists of top ten web design mistakes as well as top ten weblog design mistakes. Check to see if you make any of these mistakes. I recently wrote a note to ALA’s webmaster commenting on the lack of ALT or title tags on the ALA Midwinter Meeting page. It’s a nice looking page, but information is imparted through lots of graphics, with no alternate navigation. Usually there is a set of text links at the bottom of the page if they use images for navigation. This is what someone viewing the page with a text-only browser would see. I cannot stress enough: this is the conference information page for the largest library association in the world. If we can’t follow our own rules about accessibility, how can we expect others to?
Low-literacy users have different online behaviors than high-literacy users. They don’t scan, they read. It’s easier for them to miss important information that is outside of the normal text-areas. The good news? it’s easy to improve usability for low-literacy users without compromising the effectiveness of web sites for higher-literacy users. Read more at Jakob Nielsen’s excellent usability site, Alertbox, which also has good tips on usability for seniors.
WebJunction has a blog. I mentioned them a few weeks back taking issue with some of their suggestions for smaller libraries and got a fairly nice note back from them encouraging direct feedback on things that could help them. Apparently they’re soliciting a lot of input in making some decisions about design and usability issues. If you use WJ at all, consider giving them your ideas. [technobib]