Example Of Data Flow Diagram In System Analysis And Design Website Design – Usability Versus Accessibility

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Website Design – Usability Versus Accessibility

A big mistake that many people make is to confuse usability with accessibility. Not only are the two very different, but there seems to be a tendency to consider one less important than the other. While both must be taken seriously, the truth is that many of the ideals surrounding accessibility still apply to usability and vice versa.

Optimizing the site’s usability will help make it more accessible, or at least provide a better framework for upgrading. If your general audience finds the site difficult to use, it will almost certainly be problematic for those with disabilities or learning difficulties. In the same way, the degree of consideration that goes into accessibility is just as valid when it comes to usability.

Putting the customer first

If you strip away all the fancy stuff from web design, ultimately pages are made for people to use. Forget exposing every Flash trick you can muster from your repertoire or bombarding people’s browsers with bandwidth-crushing images, and you’re left with the best content delivery service you can offer. Before you even start formulating ideas or start thinking about launching Dreamweaver, you should remember that usability is about putting the needs of the user first. Keep in mind that the design of anything from shoes to websites is judged by the performance of the final product.

This will then help you carry out one of the most important stages in most design processes, and especially software engineering: requirements discovery. Most professional new media agencies will already be familiar with this procedure and will use it to establish a solid understanding of what the user expects to see, and the success of the project depends on meeting this. Whether you’re being commissioned to build a website for a specific client or hoping to launch something that will drive traffic more directly, it will be a key exercise to recognize the end user’s expectations.

Examining the request

A key point to remember about understanding user requirements is that you’re unlikely to get them right the first time. This means that a consistent flow of communication throughout the design process is paramount to getting as close to their expectations as possible. Talking to customers, recording what they say and trying to pinpoint what they think is the only sure way to meet their needs.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the people you’re designing for aren’t necessarily versed in the kind of ‘developer talk’ you might be using. This is where creating graphical diagrams or descriptive case studies can be used effectively to show how you see the project going. Navigational flowcharts, example sitemaps, and perhaps data flow diagrams for e-commerce solutions are good ways to present complex information without confusing others with technical jargon.

Similarly, there is no reason why a common direction of movement of visual elements cannot be achieved with page models. Flat digital drawings of possible template designs can be laid out and scrutinized, before the prototyping period of more sophisticated page elements, interfaces and navigation structures begins.

Professional help

if you are not overly interested in conducting extensive usability studies on your own, or perhaps realize that it is not feasible, you can always rely on the services of others.

Professional consultants or specialized agencies are common and offer a range of complete solutions covering all major processes. They will usually also give your site a preliminary assessment to determine if it really does require a full usability treatment and how best to achieve it all. then it really boils down to identifying the needs and goals that motivate the website or what it is expected to achieve. This can lead to a detailed analysis of target demographics, so that a cross-section of the audience group can be studied.

A sample of ‘typical users’ will usually be asked to attend testing sessions which will observe the participants as they experience the site. This can vary from simply asking them to move freely through the content for a certain amount of time to setting specific tasks and scenarios.

Although they are encouraged to ‘think out loud’ at all times, their feedback is monitored and recorded by sophisticated tracking software or video. Designers are encouraged to attend the sessions and hear how users are experiencing the site, and perhaps any improvements they might suggest. Finally, all participants were asked to provide their overall impressions of the place during in-depth interviews. All findings are then compiled into detailed reports that will form the basis for all future design revisions and new projects arising from the findings.

Conducting user surveys

When rounding up a sample of your users isn’t a realistic option, there are other ways to get feedback. Many sites will include email addresses or contact forms for visitors to send their thoughts, but this does not guarantee that you will get the valuable response you want. it may be more useful to provide electronic questionnaires that will more effectively measure user opinion.

Using a specialized program will allow you to quickly and easily publish sophisticated interactive surveys. The advantage is that the results can be recorded on the server before the more detailed statistical analysis can be processed and interpreted when administering any practical improvements. There are some off-the-shelf software solutions that will perform remote assessment of user actions as they occur in real time. Visitors must be made aware of this type of access before participating, as covert monitoring of their behavior would compromise areas of data protection law and would certainly result in mistrust if discovered.

However, some interesting data related to areas of the site or the actual interface could be revealed from the way different people access the content. Just by tracking link paths or cursor activity, you could determine how navigation is perceived and perhaps how effective visual cues like menus, buttons, and anchors are in guiding your audience’s actions.

This gives one of the truest pictures of the user’s perception, as the subject is likely to behave as they would naturally behave when casually surfing the web. In stricter ‘laboratory’ conditions, they may feel pressured by the environment or the presence of the examiner, or are aware of the time they need to perform. It would also have a negative effect if they were expected to use hardware, peripherals, operating systems or browsing software that they may not be familiar with.

By making estimates of how typical visitors interact with the website in their homes or workplaces, it will help differentiate between a novice and an experienced user going through without any distractions.

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