94 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content

94 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content AWeb site scontent is the most persuasive aspect of a site. But creating content for theWeb is a totally different activity than creating content for other media such as books and white papers. Along with creation of Web content comes protecting and managing Web content. After you ve prepared it appropriately, legally protecting your (or your client s) property and strategically managing it can be a huge issue. This chapter shares secrets that will help you create and manage content in effective ways, including how to write more effectively for the Web, understand intellectual property (IP) issues and how they influence the work of Web designers, and what is required to make strategic decisions about long-term management of content. note This chapter is very U.S.-centric because it deals with language and law, and these issues vary greatly from country to country. I ve included some international resources here and there, but depending upon the languages you work with, some of the material here may not apply. The (IP) information centers on U.S. law. You will have to check with your country s approach to rights management to see if similar laws and methods are in place. In all cases involving legal concerns or questions, a visit to an attorney is advised. Secret #64: Finding Your Voice The human voice can express a wide range of sound: It can be loud or soft, silky or gravelly, or suave or gruff. The variety of sound has significance how you use a given sound can help you in your conversations with others to persuade them, calm them, express concern, and so forth. Voice in writing is the personality and character of the language used. You find it in literature, of course where the author or characters in a given story have their individual style of language. You also see many examples of voice in the advertising world think about the last commercial you saw on TV. Well-written advertising uses language that will influence and persuade the audience highly. Using these techniques on theWeb is as important to the effective communication of your site s intent as it is in more traditional forms of media. Consider how different one site is from another each has its own personality. Some examples of how voice can be helpful for a type of site include the following: Popular clothing catalogue. If you re selling the latest style of jeans, your site might benefit from the use of hip, trendy language. The target audience, feeling comfortable and enjoying the fun and familiarity of the jargon, will be more likely to buy from a site that quite literally speaks to them than a similar site that uses bland language. Check out Girlshop at www.girlshop.com/ for a great example of a site that uses voice to communicate effectively with its young clientele (see Figure 5-1). Family car dealership. For a local car dealership aimed at selling mid-size cars and SUVs, language that expresses comfort and confidence can persuade by instilling a sense of security in its site visitors. For example, the Ford Motor Company Web site, www.ford .com/, has a section called Heritage in which Ford s commitment to

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Creating and Ch5apter Managing Fantastic Content Secrets

Creating and Ch5apter Managing Fantastic Content Secrets in This Chapter #64: Finding Your Voice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 94 #65: Clarifying Site Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 95 #66: Text and the Computer Screen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 96 #67: Writing Effective Paragraphs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 99 #68: Varying Pace . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100 #69: Removing Extraneous Information . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 #70: Using Tables to Organize Data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102 #71: Using Lists to Simplify Ideas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104 #72: Using Headers Meaningfully . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105 #73: Applying Style Standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 106 #74: Avoiding Problem Grammar . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 #75: Understand Copyright! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107 #76: Extending Copyright with Creative Commons . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108 #77: Protecting Intellectual Property with Trademarks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 #78: The Role of Patents on the Web . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 #79: What Is Digital Rights Management? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110 #80: Exploring Content Management Systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111

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Chapter 4: Making Sites Usable and

Chapter 4: Making Sites Usable and Persuasive 91 remote testing are that it can be technically problematic (connectivity problems, slow applications), and those who are administering the test have limited or no visual feedback from the individual s face or physical demeanor. Usability testing is important for any major site. However, the way in which you achieve your test and apply results is going to vary greatly based on budget, project life cycle, and human resources. note For more information on the pros and cons of remote usability testing, see Experience remote usability testing, Part 1 at IBM developerWorks, www-106.ibm.com/developerworks/library/wa-rmusts1/. Another excellent article on the topic is Remote Online Usability Testing: Why, How, and When to Use It at Boxes and Arrows, a rich resource for those interested in real-world applications of usability techniques. Finally, to learn about usability-related Web sites, additional articles, and books, see Appendix C, Helpful Reading, Web Sites, and Resources. Summary The study of usability and user experience on the Web is so active an area that it s producing massive quantities of documentation, methodology, and testing techniques. The Web design field grows deeper by the day, partly due to the attention being paid to how users use the Web, why they use it, and how we can help them use it more effectively. Of course, a site can be extremely usable, but what good is usability without real content? Chapter 5 gives you a look at how to create and manage content, increasing your ability to persuade audiences and making their experience easy as well as rewarding.

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90 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content

90 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content 9th of February, 2004 February 9, 2004 9 FEB 2004 9 February 2004 If you choose to do this, it srecommend that you do so in addition to including the international format. note You can learn more about international standard formats at the ISO Web site, www.iso.ch/. The date and time standard is ISO 8601. A related issue is the way we describe time in documents. Most of the world uses the 24-hour time format something that people in the United States typically refer to as military time and only use in formal settings. Otherwise, we use an A.M./P.M. format to denote time. Most of the world: 13:00 U.S.: 1 P.M. Fortunately, most people in the United States are familiar with the 24-hour time format, so use it to reach the broadest audience possible. The ISO 8601 standard echoes this logic: it says to use 24-hour time in all cases. However, while this is a reasonable solution, there are going to be cases where using international formatting isn t the best choice, such as with U.S.-based intranets or U.S.-centric sites. In those cases, using U.S. formats may be the better choice. tip If you re going to use U.S. time formats, include the A.M. or P.M. for greater clarity. Secret #63: Cost-Controlled Usability Testing Perhaps one of the greatest controversies inWeb design is how to performusability tests that provide results without incurring significant cost to the client. There are two primary types of usability testing: Lab-based and remote. In the lab-based version, testers observe site visitors as they manually go through a set of tasks. Testers will interview the participants and write up an overview of their research. The research results can then be applied to the site to improve its usability. The advantage of lab-based testing is that the process can be tightly controlled and cleanly observed. The major disadvantage of lab-based testing is that it can be extremely costly. In remote testing, the people to be tested are using the Web site in question, online. The key component of remote testing is finding good online meeting tools and online applications so testers can observe remote site visitors. The advantages of remote testing include being able to reach a wider audience and keeping costs down. Usability studies can be offered throughout the life cycle of a site s development, something that many usability specialists recommend. The drawbacks to

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Chapter 4: Making Sites Usable and

Chapter 4: Making Sites Usable and Persuasive 89 Use some change in navigation to reflect location. A very familiar technique is having the color or style of a navigation link or image change to indicate that you re on a specific page (see Figure 4-21). Using arrows or other symbols is also common. Figure 4-21: Changing a link style in some way can assist with orientation. Make sure sections are clearly demarcated. Each section within a site should be identified. Whether you use iconography, text, photos, color-coding, or other visual design techniques to achieve this, make it clear to visitors when they re in the Books section of your site rather than the DVD section. Use breadcrumb navigation. Breadcrumb navigation is an excellent way to keep visitors oriented, as well as to provide them with ways to link back to other sections within the site (see Figure 4-22). Figure 4-22: Breadcrumb navigation remains one of the most helpful ways to keep a site user oriented, as well as provide additional navigation features. Provide a site map. Especially important for very large sites, a site map denoting locations with links to individual areas can be extremely helpful for people trying to orient themselves to your site. Secret #62: Date and Time Formats The web is a worldwide phenomenon, and there are numerous ways across the world to denote time and date. Sometimes these formats can conflict depending upon the format used in a given country. Consider the following date: 09/02/04 If you re a reader in Europe, you ll likely interpret this to mean that it s the ninth day of February of the year 2004 (dd/mm/yy). U.S. readers understand this time format to mean the second day of September of the year 2004 (mm/dd/yy). And you ll find still other date formats in use around the world. The secret when it comes to date formats is to use the International Date Format. This is an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard, which makes it truly international. It places the century and year first, then the month, then the day. So for the ninth day of February 2004, you d write the following: 2004/02/09 Or, effectively, ccyy/mm/dd. Another way you can assist users with date formatting is to write the date out in some way, such as in the following examples:

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88 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content

88 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content Figure 4-20: Dominant tabs should contrast well with other aspects of the tab. You can see this in two instances on my TypePad control panel page. tip If you re using tabs, the current tab and the related space below it should contrast well with tabs in the background. Secret #61: Provide Orientation The concept of orientation is another major aspect of user interface design. At any point while visiting a Web site, the user relies on subtle (and sometimes not-sosubtle) cues to keep a sense of where they are within the site. note As mentioned earlier in this chapter, not every site visitor enters your site from the home page. Therefore, it s very important to offer orientation aids on all pages. You can assist your site visitors with orientation in a number of ways, including the following: Show site name and location in title bar. By showing the site name and specific location in the title, you can improve orientation. If you have a very large site, just having the site name and subsection of the site, such as All News: Technology Headlines Today will be a helpful aid to your visitors, even if there s no easy way to create individual titles for all the specific topic pages.

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Chapter 4: Making Sites Usable and

Chapter 4: Making Sites Usable and Persuasive 87 Figure 4-19: Pop-up commenting system on my Weblog. note Accessibility specialists suggest that you should not remove any of the browser s components from your pop up, including browser frame, menus, and scroll bar, and that you should be sure that your users can resize the window. For more information about making sites more accessible, see Chapter 10, Adding Accessibility Features. Secret #60: Consider Tabbed Navigation Any lover of Amazon.com knows that they were one of the first sites to implement what eventually became a practically ubiquitous means of managing navigation tabbed navigation. Tabbed navigation is an attractive option for numerous reasons, including the following: Tabs are familiar. Tabbed navigation is so common both online and offline (the familiar tabs within a file folder) that even the most inexperienced of site visitors can use it with ease. Tabs are persistent. Tabs are by nature persistent from page to page. The only thing that should change is that the tab related to the current page should appear as the dominant tab (see Figure 4-20). Tabs are consistent. Along with persistence, tabbed navigation is consistent in its general visual features.

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86 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content

86 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content Figure 4-18: The search drop-down menu in use here is very effective due to its familiarity and short list of options. When working with popups, first and foremost, be aware that many people will have popups blocked in the public sector, so they simply may not be the best choice. Some applications that are considered reasonable for popups include the following: Product details. If you are offering a product on a page with other products and would like to provide specific details for each, the use of a pop-up window is credible. Visual details. Details of graphics can be extremely helpful. Consider sites displaying mechanical and scientific information and commerce sites. Details of devices and products can be provided in popups. Code samples. One of my favorite uses for popups is for code samples in tutorial and script reservoir sites. Weblog comments. A current common use for pop-ups is for comment systems in Weblog software (see Figure 4-19). note In Weblog comments, URLs are often shared. While linking within popups isn t considered the best practice, many Weblog users are adept at managing links within popups. For more general audiences, you may wish to avoid links within your popups. If you do choose to use popups, consider the following guidelines as a way of reducing problems related to accessibility and usability: Let your visitors know that the link leads to a pop-up. Avoid links within the windows (see preceding note for exception). Ensure windows are available even if JavaScript is disabled.

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Chapter 4: Making Sites Usable and

Chapter 4: Making Sites Usable and Persuasive 85 Figure 4-17: Consistent placement of elements assists users in navigating and orienting within a site. However, using drop-down menus shouldn tbe something done just for these reasons. Offering a menu like this has to make sense. What s more, usability experts such as Jakob Nielsen make some excellent recommendations when it comes to using drop-downs, such as the following: Avoid very long menus. Too many options in a drop-down menu become problematic because they require the site visitor to scroll uncomfortably. This can also cause problems for the mobility impaired, limiting the site s accessibility. Avoid menus with short entries. Any menus offering options with very short entries, such as state abbreviations, also become problematic for visitors. Typing the abbreviation into a text box is easier. Avoid menus of known information. Nielsen points out that information we type frequently, such as our birth dates, are better collected via text boxes than drop-down menus. His claim is that this kind of information is hardwired to people s fingers, and that it s easier on them to type it than go through the trouble of selecting a drop-down menu. Despite these warnings, I veoften favored drop-down menus for quick links to site locations, or for enhancing search (see Figure 4-18). Secret #59: Pop-Up Windows The trouble with popups is easily illustrated by the proliferation of pop-up blocking software and implementation of pop-up blocking inWeb browsers such as Mozilla. But most of this has been as a result of the proliferation of interstitial advertising. Various, reasonable uses of popups have been around for a while.

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84 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content

84 Part I: Tools, Planning, and Content Despite the fact that a new Mozilla project had just been released, the primary information on this page is about Mozilla s hallmark product, the Mozilla Web browser. Therefore, it holds first position on the page. Secret #57: Consistent Placement of Elements Another very significant issue in terms of successful user interface design is the consistency of page elements, both in terms of visual placement of logos and navigation, and of their style. More than likely, you ve visited a Web site where you started to dig in, and ended up on a page within that site that had no consistency in the placement of elements or the design as you moved from page to page. The problem is less pervasive than it used to be particularly as awareness of usability concerns in design grows. When working on the placement of elements, include the following: Logos. Typically, a logo will be persistently placed in one spot throughout the site. A common technique is to make the logo larger on the home page and somewhat smaller on subsequent pages, but in all cases the location should be the same. Navigation. As already discussed, the consistent placement of navigation is a critical aspect of successful, usable design. Link to Home. All pages of your site should have a persistent link (or links) to the home page. It s conventional to link the logo graphic to the home page, use a persistent option on the navigation bar, or both. Most usability experts recommend that if an option exists for the home page link on the home page, it should not be live. Search. While not all sites offer search capabilities, it s becoming more common for medium-to-large-scale sites to implement them. Effective search can make a site visitor s experience easier, so all Web designers and developers should consider search features for their sites. Many experts recommend that the search feature be very prominent, often appearing as a first option on the primary navigation bar. note Many usability advocates feel that there are at least two exceptions to consistent placement of elements, search pages and forms, because they often require different features. Figure 4-17 shows a screenshot of theWileyWeb site. The logo, primary navigation, search, contact, help, account, and shopping cart information remain persistent as well as consistent throughout all levels of the site. Secret #58: Drop-Down Menus Drop-down menus are a very popular means of offering navigation options and options within forms. Drop-down menus can be especially effective because they are familiar to Web audiences, are easy to use, help reduce errors, and take up a lot less screen space than long menu systems.

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