Guidelines for Accessible Forms

In an age where user feedback and interaction has become so popular, accessible forms have become that much more important. Many sites have already embraced making their forms accessible, and done a pretty good job of it, but inevitably some will still lack that little extra something – as small as an inappropriately named label through to no accessible features at all.

1. Using label tags

Labels should always be used and include the for attribute (e.g. <label for="name">). The value used should match the id of the input field that the label is being used for:

<label for="name">Name</label> <input type="text" id="name">

Labels for inputs, select dropdowns and textareas should precede the input, though labels for radio buttons and checkboxes should follow the input, as follows:

<input type="checkbox" id="terms"> <label for="terms">Accept our terms & conditions</label>

Are Your Websites Color-Accessible?

Contrast-A Screen ShotAs many of you already know, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) recommend a specific amount of contrast between backgrounds and text on your websites. Unfortunately, very few people probably actually test their websites to ensure that they meet those guidelines. As a color-blind person, I find a lot of websites that are extremely difficult to read because of poor contrast between backgrounds and text.

I’m honestly not sure why many of us (including myself, on many occasions) don’t check the color contrast on our websites. While it’s difficult to measure and quantify the contrast through conventional means, there are quite a few really nice tools that make it a snap.

10 Unexpected Online User Behaviors to Look Out For

When designing a website, there are key user behaviours that should be taken into account. But in order to take them into account, it helps to know them. Below are 10 of the more interesting and less well-known user behaviours that regularly occur in user testing:

People have banner blindness

People don’t notice banners. It’s been found in eye tracking studies their gaze literally avoids settling on any area that looks like an advert instead it seems people actively try to avoid looking at them. This effect is called banner blindness.

Banner blindness affects most people, and has a startling side effect. Useful areas of the site that are overly graphically designed (and end up looking like an advert) are ignored by users as though they were adverts.

Do Your Page Titles Make Sense?

Confusing NavigationI was listening to episode #194 of the BoagWorld podcast the other day. Part of the podcast included an interview with Gerry McGovern on the concept of focusing on user tasks. One of the main points made in the interview was that you need to focus on major tasks that your visitors want to accomplish when visiting your Web site and hide or even remove the extremely minor tasks. Following is an excerpt from the transcript of that interview:

everything affects everything else and people think if I add a piece of content, if I add a web page, if I you know… It’s just another page… its not… it’s going to do something positive and it’s not going to do anything negative

You at least added one link and you added one more search result that comes true and each one of those links and each one of those search results is like another sign post that can send somebody in the wrong direction.

…everything you do has three impacts. It impacts the navigation, it impacts the search, and it impacts the manageability of the website, but also that small task and small content has every bit of chance to impact the efficiency of a top task

This got me thinking. In large institutions, it’s often difficult to effectively preach the importance of reorganizing the site structure to eliminate or downplay the minor tasks, but there is something you can do to at least help your visitors a little bit.

Usability Testing for Your Web Site

This morning, I am attending a shortened session about usability testing called “Usability Testing Without the Scary” by Dana Chisnell, author of The Handbook of Usability Testing. She presented the full version of this session yesterday during the all-day sessions, while I was attending the HTML5 and CSS3 presentation from Molly.

For this session, Chisnell began by asking the audience for some of the main points we would like her to cover in the much shorter timespan she has today. To begin, someone asked the generic question about how we should be performing usability testing. I then asked, as advanced or “power” users, how do we, with limited resources, attempt to understand how the standard user will attempt to use our Web site. One other person asked if there were ways to increase or encourage participation in usability studies.

Designing Online Social Networks: Social Group Theory

Online communities (facilitated by Web 2.0) have become very important over the past few years – not only to niche communities, but now to mainstream brands. Social networking is about human connection and links between people. The reasons why people join groups and social networks are typically that groups can:

  • Provide encouragement and support
  • Establish identity with others and fulfil the need to feel included
  • Provide the outlet for some people to establish their need for recognition, social status, control and/or leadership
  • Alternatively, provide the necessary control over aspects of lives for those who don’t want to be leaders (e.g. Weight Watchers)
  • Help establish friends, relationships and the opportunity to interact with others

Historically group membership has served an evolutionary survival function – put simply, there’s safety in numbers

There’s been much research into group psychology but not so much about how this applies to a marketer trying to monetise an online community or introduce one to their brand. Here are some interesting phenomena about groups designed to help a brand owner capitalise on networks and the social phenomena:

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