W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > site-comments@w3.org > April 2001

RE: site usability

From: Lorraine Johnson <lorraine.johnson@elektrobit.com>
Date: Wed, 18 Apr 2001 10:00:44 -0700
Message-ID: <1CE5392373C4D311BB220008C733F5941E2FF2@ebincrd01>
To: "'Dominique Hazael-Massieux'" <dom@w3.org>
Hi Doninique,

Thanks for your reply.

Yes, I know I can do a search, but I can't NAVIGATE to pages I want and that
frustrates me.  It's one thing if the information is (more or less)
obviously in a database (such as Microsoft's Knowledge Base - I wouldn't
want to navigate THAT- ugh!), but it's another if the information is in
(mostly) linked html documents.  It breaks Web usability to have orphaned
pages.  (I've been writing HTML since '94, so I'm not exactly a novice at
this.)  Also, it makes me wonder what other related information you have
that I won't find just because I don't already know you have it.

The W3C is *THE* Web organization.  You can't afford (in the prestige sense)
to have frustrated users.  In order to lead by example, your example must be
nearly perfect.  If users come away with the idea that your site is
haphazard and unorganized, how can you expect them to respect the ideas and
ideals you are working toward?

I didn't mean that your left-hand navigation should include all your
documents, but that all documents related to a category should be listed in
the category pages.  For example, the cHTML and HDML documents should be
referenced from both the HTML and the Mobile category pages.  Oh, sure, put
them at the bottom under a heading of "Things We Don't Recommend" or some
such, but at least list them in the obvious places.  If not that, then add a
category at the bottom, "Unadopted Proposals," maybe. Foster care for these
unwanted orphans.

In my opinion, these category pages are your best ally in fighting your
information management problem.  Make these pages into tables of contents
and severely limit the introductory text.  Set up a template for the
structure of each category page (section headings) and you'll find yourself
a long way to an organized site with complete linking.  Some suggestions:
"Current Standards," "Previous Standards and Drafts," "Related Information,"
and "Related but Not Recommended Information."  It should be easy - although
tedious - to discover which documents are not referenced from anywhere and
figure out where to add the links.  Most importantly, make them consistent!

One other usability note:  because most of the navigation on your home page
is accomplished through plain text links in yellow boxes, I did not register
the blue bar graphic as a navigation element at all.  I saw it as part of
the header graphic information and ignored it.  (Especially as it doesn't
reappear on all your other pages.) Consistency is essential in designing

Best wishes,


-----Original Message-----
From: Dominique Hazael-Massieux [mailto:dom@w3.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2001 8:20 AM
To: Lorraine Johnson
Cc: 'site-comments@w3.org'
Subject: Re: site usability

On Tue, Apr 17, 2001, Lorraine Johnson wrote:
> I'm trying to sort out the similarities and differences between cHTML,
> WML, and XHTML Basic.  I know that cHTML and HDML are not W3C
> Recommendations, but you *do* have descriptive documents on your site.
> Every time I want to check a point, though, I have to go through a
> convoluted process of finding the papers again.  (Yes, I've bookmarked
> but sometimes what I remember reading is in a related page.)  I expect to
> find links under HTML or Mobile, but no luck.

	Typing HDML in our search box in our home page gives me this

with links to:
and 	http://www.w3.org/Submission/1997/5/Comment.html

	Typing compactHTML (aka cHTML) in the same search box:

with link to http://www.w3.org/TR/1998/NOTE-compactHTML-19980209/

By the way, knowing that cHTML is related to XHTML basic, I can find
this link at http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml-basic/#a_refs the references for
XHTML Basic.

> Just because a paper isn't a Recommendation, doesn't mean that people
> want to access it.  The whole point of the Web is to link related
> for clear and easy access.  It would be great if the main categories (your
> left-hand list) could link to all related resources (even if they're not
> approved).  If not that, then at least some kind of site map which lists
> available papers.

	We have a list of all our published technical reports available

As you may see, this list is already very long and it wouldn't make
sense to display all these references on our home page.

> Considering that accessibility is a strong point with the W3C, it's very
> frustrating to find your site so difficult to navigate.

	We are always looking for making our site better: the task is
really not easy as our site is really big, but any advices are very

Best regards,

Dominique HazaŽl-Massieux - http://www.w3.org/People/Dom/
W3C's Webmaster at MIT
mailto:dom@w3.org - tel: +1-617-258-8143
Received on Wednesday, 18 April 2001 13:03:41 UTC

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