Guide released for federal Web design

Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines

The federal government has a new federal guide to developing Web sites and making them as citizen-centric and user-friendly as possible.

"Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines," developed by the Usability.gov group at the National Cancer Institute, covers 17 areas, including page layout, choosing fonts, writing content and organizing it. The theme running througout the 187 guidelines is "optimizing the user experience."

The tactics were developed from research into best practices across many organizations, from university studies to standards developed by the World Wide Web Consortium. The NCI group started the guidelines for their own sites, but after officials decided to release them for the federal community at large, the project was reviewed by many experts and morphed into a set of guidelines for any organization.

"Design is difficult, but these new research-based guidelines are an important step forward in providing assistance to those who are dedicated to quality," Ben Shneiderman, professor at the University of Maryland and founding director of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, wrote in a preface to the guide.

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