HTML and CSS Reference
Once your users have managed to access your content and services, can they make
sense of it and glean the information they wanted from it? This is a simple, perhaps
obvious point to make, but I've lost count of the times I've gone to a company
website and scratched my head in vain while trying to find contact details, opening
times, or an address. Instead, I find nothing useful amidst the sea of marketing BS,
cheesy videos, and other propaganda being presented.
Why do people not think more about what information is most useful to people
viewing their websites and how to present that information in an easily digestible
way? A simple, well-written, and clearly available bit of copy is nearly always more
effective than reams of flashy, whizzy, technical stuff.
My mantra for usability (and many other people's, too) is “don't make me think.”
Don't make your users think about how to get what they want. If you've not already
read it, Steve Krug's book Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach To Web
Usability, 2nd Edition is essential reading.
GRACEFUL DEGRADATION AND PROGRESSIVE ENHANCEMENT
Graceful degradation and progressive enhancement were two terms that first
became popular (or at least noteworthy) about a decade ago. Both were used when
talking about what happens to content when the browser viewing it doesn't sup-
port all the features used to create it.
Graceful degradation means that the content falls back to something simpler
but still perfectly accessible and usable. So, for example, if a content box is built and
then styled using lots of CSS3 glitz, older browsers should still be able to display
the text in a readable form, even if it doesn't look as nice.
Progressive enhancement means that the base content is accessible by all, but
then usability and stylistic enhancements are built on top of that base for those
browsers that support those enhancements.