W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > site-comments@w3.org > August 2000

A few comments

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2000 14:53:32 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: site-comments@w3.org
The new site design is interesting.  A few comments, mainly
addressed to the home page of the site:

* In Lynx (and I assume, in a screenreader), we start out
   with a rather long list of technologies which are sorted
   in alphabetical order.  Most of these are acronyms and/or
   abbreviations, and many are expanded correctly using
   ACRONYM tags, although there are a few which are not.
   (For example, CC/PP helpfully expands to:
   <acronym title="CC/PP">CC/PP</acronym>
   If that's helpful for anyone, I'm not sure who...)
   Some "skip navigation" options would be useful, as would
   a sense of what's on the page without having to experience
   everything sequentially.  Taborder would help here as

* The use of <link rel="bookmark"> is nice, however.  The
   page seems to be lacking in meta tags such as KEYWORDS and
   DESCRIPTION, however, which could be useful for summarizing
   and indexing the page.

* While the various sections of the page are labeled name/id
   attributes, in the table summary attribute, and in the 
   meta tags, there's little in the way of actual textual
   content which identifies the functions of the various 
   sections for graphical and non-graphical users alike.  If
   the right sidebar, for example, is a table of contents for
   the W3C site, this could be shown better, perhaps through
   the use of a simple heading "Table of Contents."

* The Search function particularly suffers, being hidden away
   at the bottom of the table of contents on the right side of
   the table, and thus at the very end of the page linearly.
   Search functionality should be clearly labeled with text
   reading "Search Site" or the equivalent, including use of the
   LABEL element to associate the text with the controls, and
   the Search function should be a lot easier to find.  I hardly
   realized it was there, scanning the page.

* The headlines/articles down the middle of the page apparently
   are news items, but this isn't identified except via the ALT
   text on the triangle graphics, which inexplicably say "News! "
   even though that is not an adequate or appropriate text version
   of the triangle icons.  If the center column is for "news"
   then it probably should be labeled as such.

* The top headline/news item is in red, while the rest are in
   black.  Is this conveying some sort of meta-information by
   using color alone?  It's hard to tell why the first one is
   in color and the rest are not.

* Why the use of <i class="date"></i> to set off dates?  It seems
   to me there is nothing inherently "italic" about the content
   which is marked thusly, and so this should probably be done
   with <span> and italics applied using style sheets.

* Just as a note, the MathML conference registration links to an
   HTTPS URI, which may not be supported by all browsers; some sort
   of warning, even a parenthetical or TITLE blurb to the effect
   of "(https secure connection)" would be helpful.

* Without any identifying headings and such to mark the structure
   of the page, it's hard to figure out by skimming what content
   is available here, especially if I knew nothing about what the
   W3C is or what it does.  Apart from press release teasers, this
   homepage contains precious little in the way of content and the
   navigation is of the "huge lists of links" sort.  If I didn't
   know what the W3C did already, I would be at a loss to figure it
   out from this, and I think that's a serious problem in usability.
   Any main page of a web site should give you an idea at a glance
   what can be done there -- the use of alphabetic lists, no info
   about the W3C, no context for the three columns, and only a very
   minimal, almost "hidden" navigation bar/table of contents on the
   right side makes this a hard site to use.  (Because most people
   are used to left columns for navigation and right columns for
   "extras" or sidebars, this design suffers from serious usability

There's my two bits.  More later if I have the time/cycles to


PS:  While you -do- ask for comments, which is good, the resulting
      link that purports to be to a "forum" actually takes one to a
      rather intimidating, user-unfriendly mailing list archive with
      no instructions anywhere on how to submit your feedback.  This
      is self-limiting and means that only folks familiar with the
      W3C's operations and mailing list setup will be able to give

Kynn Bartlett  <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                       http://kynn.com/
Director of Accessibility, Edapta                  http://www.edapta.com/
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain Internet      http://www.idyllmtn.com/
AWARE Center Director                         http://www.awarecenter.org/
Vote for Liz for N. Am. ICANN Nominee!        http://www.khyri.com/icann/
Received on Friday, 25 August 2000 18:07:02 UTC

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