Userfocus Usability Newsletter, February 2011

Welcome to the February edition of the Userfocus usability newsletter.

Message from the Editor

When making important decisions in life — and certainly when making important decisions in business — we're exhorted to make sure we have a 'Plan B'. So I'm puzzled that many web teams don't have a Plan B in place for a common scenario: when their company's web site is visited by a disabled person. 10% of the online population has a disability, so the chances are high that a disabled person is trying to use your site right now. Most people think that web accessibility is all about what you can't do ("No Flash! No Ajax!"), but in fact it's all about having a Plan B: an alternative for people who can't use Flash or have Javascript turned off. In this month's article I talk about one kind of alternative: 'alt' text for images. If you think you already know all there is to know about 'alt' text, I encourage you to read it because — as you'll see from the article — many big brands get it wrong.

I hope you enjoy the article.

David Travis

Feature article: 5 kinds of 'alt' text

There are five different classes of image used on web pages and each class of image requires a different approach to writing the 'alt' attribute. Read the article in full: 5 kinds of 'alt' text.

What we're reading

Some interesting usability-related articles that got our attention over the last month:

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Usability Training: Now Booking

A Practical Guide to Usability Testing, Feb 17, London

For people in design teams who want to gain confidence in usability testing, this is a 1-day workshop that shows delegates how to obtain customer feedback on prototypes and finished products. Unlike lecture-based courses, delegates moderate a usability test of their own web site and leave with a recording of the session to share with the design team. More information about this training course: A Practical Guide to Usability Testing.

Contextual inquiry: how to plan, execute and analyse a site visit, Mar 8, London

For people in design teams who need to base their designs on reality, not assumptions, this is a 1-day seminar that teaches delegates how to get the most from a field visit to a customer location. Unlike academic courses, delegates on this seminar carry out their own study and so learn the practicalities of contextual inquiry on the job. More information about this training course: Contextual inquiry: how to plan, execute and analyse a site visit.

Web Usability: Designing the user experience, Apr 11-12, London

For web designers who want hands-on experience with usability tools and techniques, "Web Usability" is a 2-day immersion seminar that shows delegates how to boost sales and conversion rates, increase usage and improve customer satisfaction. More information about this training course: Web Usability.

User Experience quotation of the month

"Very often, people confuse simple with simplistic. The nuance is lost on most." — Clement Mok.

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