New Rules of Web Design

Jeff Wisniewski
University of Pittsburgh

Simplicity Rules
Everyone wants to be like Google.  But Google is a single purpose site.  Library websites differ because they serve multiple functions. 

Content is king, but design matters alot.  Novice users judge in the blink of an eye, and may only judge based on how your site looked.  With an increase in professional design, comes an increase in credibility. 

Need to design your website for what your users are doing.

The rule of seven
Somewhere between 5 and 9 categories for top level navigation

The 3 click rule
This rule is dead
Design for SCENT
Users will click so long as they feel they are on the right path

Design for 800 X 600
Best to optimize for 1024 X 768
Need to think about other platforms, such as handhelds
Use CSS media types  (there is a CSS media type for handheld)  I really need to look at this. 
Make sure you have a flexible design. 

Colors for the web
Most users browse with 24-bit color rendering

For Redesign Inspiration
Take a survey or the general web.  Don’t just look at other library websites. 

How often do you redesign?
A constant, more iterative design is less disruptive. 

Follow your own conventions
Be consistent with what you call things

Established web standards and conventions
home link in the upper left
if you have a banner, make it clickable

Does greater bandwidth give us more design freedom?
Mobile users are on slower networks

Need to support all browsers
For basic content—YES!

Separation of presentation and content means that you don’t have to design a text-only version of the site

CSS support for layout is good enough for modern browsers
“Be a


The very top of the page is most likely to be ignored or only looked at briefly.  “banner blindness”
Don’t put anything at the very top of the page if it is mission critical. 
Google heat map shows what parts of the page are visible to the user, while showing which parts are ignored.  Note to self, the top right is ignored. 

Flash can be used for effective animation and interactivity

Mouseover menus raise usability considerations.  The menus often require ninja-like mouse skills

Tell people when you are going to be opening a new window. 
Content such as PDF, Word, etc, it makes sense to open in a new window. 
Tabbed browsing makes this less of an issue. 

What about scrolling?
these days users are comfortable scrolling
but keep most important content above the fold

Images of people
generally images increase trust
labeled people increase credibility the most


2 thoughts on “New Rules of Web Design

  1. Thanks for the post and the rules Chad. We are starting to design departmental blogs and the design rules will be a good discussion point. enjoy the conference.

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