Web Design Excellence

Some Examples:

http://www.bornmagazine.org/
http://www.americandesignawards.com/
http://www.sfskids.org/templates/home.asp?pageid=1
http://www.designfirms.org/awards/
WebExhibits: http://www.webexhibits.org/ (see, for example, Node Poems)
http://www.docucity.unimi.it/interface/docucity.html


Some Criteria:

1) Does the site make its audience(s) and purpose(s) clear? 
(See the San Francisco Symphony site for children.)

2) Is this clarity readily apparent?
(Consider logos, persistent navigation, tag line, look-and-feel, etc.)

3) Does this clarity remain apparent as one navigates the site?
(Do users know where they are in the site and what they are or could be doing?)

4) Is the design appropriate to its purpose(s)?
(Sites may be for search [google], consultation [OED], exploration [SFS], service [Michigan Secretary of State site], training [w3schools], testing, display [photo galleries], sales [amazon], consumption [Project Gutenberg and Pandora], asynchronous interaction [Facebook, blogs with comments], synchronous interaction [Google IM, MMRPGs], others, combinations of these.)

5) Is the design appropriate to its audience(s)?
(Consider age, education, location, perhaps other factors such as cultural background.)

6) Is the site easy to use by its audience(s) for its purpose(s)? 
(Consider ability to chart a good default path, ability to move to another relevant point in the site, and ability to return to any given point in the site after having left the site.)

7) Is the site appropriately rich?
(Consider what it offers to attract first-time and repeat visitors and what it might, in an ideal world, offer.)

These criteria are all contingent. Propriety of design for the audience may weigh more heavily where accessbility is a pirmary concern, richness where archival scholarship is a primary concern. In general, however, in juding the "excellence" of web sites, one might suggest that "Clarity" (1-3) count about 20%, "Design" (4-6) about 50%, and "Richness" about 30%. (The above suggestions were initially made to help U-M librarians devise a scheme for rating and recommending library sites as examples of web excellence.)

Copyright © 2011 Eric S. Rabkin
This page was last updated on Thursday, 17-Nov-2011 09:34:52 EST .