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Re: Good UI Design for Readers

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>
Date: Wed, 30 Jan 2002 09:37:56 -0500
Message-Id: <200201301437.JAA237956@smtp2.mail.iamworld.net>
To: "Andy J. W. Affleck" <listaccount@raggedcastle.com>, WAI Mailing list <w3c-wai-ig@w3.org>
Have you read Mike Paciello's book?

Taken Kynn's course?

There is Jim Thatcher courseware online.  Definitely worth your time.

But do bring more questions.

At 08:39 AM 2002-01-30 , Andy J. W. Affleck wrote:
>Can anyone point me to good resources for sites or FAQs that deal with good
>user interface design for audio/readers?

I guess the following disclaimer is a FAQ, too:  Good design has not been
reduced to FAQs.  

Maybe it can't be.  At present all you can get in FAQs is warnings about bad
design, like don't start your ALT text with "link to..."  And even those that
are known are not published well that I know.

>I understand all of the techniques and tricks people use (CSS,
>skip-navigation links, alt, longdesc, etc.) but I'm looking for resources
>which describe HOW to design good UI for audio only browsers.

Design radio content and voice portal dialogs (IVR maybe).  Transcribe to web.

But I don't think you are designing an aural UI.  I expect you are putting up
web pages and want them to play well through screen readers.  And, while you
don't have this at the top of your mind, you insist that it work well visually
as well.

>Somee examples of questions I'm looking to answer:
>1) Our site uses breadcrumbs to indicate location (Something like: Home Page
>> Second Level > Third Level > Title of Current page -- all of which are
>links, except the last item). It seems that this isn't very clear or obvious
>when read aloud and either framing text is needed or it should be dropped in
>favor of the main menu for the site. Or we're wrong and these would be fine.

You just have the order wrong.  In vision the representation of the "you are
here" path takes an indented table-of-contents format in the best current
practice, and a top-to-bottom trace as you have indicated is a second-best. 
Thank you for defining 'breadcrumbs..."

In audio you should always trace the path outward, in order of increasing scope
from 'here' to 'home.'  The most-rapidly-changing first, etc.  You will find
this explained in many places, most recently in advice about page TITLEs being
presented in this order.  In the case of page TITLEs it makes sense even
visually because browser windows truncate this datum on the right, so the local
part which is most critical should be first where it will never get cut off.

>2) Is it better to have the navigation at the top of the page with a
>skip-navigation link jumping over it to the content or to put it at the
>bottom of the page with a skip-over-content-to-navigation link at the top
>instead (we feel that this is really a function of how important the
>navigation or the content is. On some sites, say sites doing a linear page
>to page lesson in which you want the content and then the NEXT link rather
>than having to do a skip-over-nav every page) and on some sites, mainly
>portal sites, the navigation would be the most important thing and having it
>first would be good.

There is no best answer to this across browse modes.  If CSS positioning were
more reliably implemented in browsers, you could put the hypertext in
speech-optimised order and lay out the page in vision-optimised array.  If
wishes were horses...

What the speech user wants on arriving in a new context (page) is an
orientation to what's [in] here.  This is an overview or quick tour of the page
contents.  The visual user doesn't want this verbalized, it is plain from a
glance.  What the header is used for visually is a reminder of where you are
and what's around _outside_ the topic of _this page_, aside from a page
[inside] title [not to be confused with the HTML page TITLE] or headline.  The
speech user is under time pressure and doesn't have time for that [by default]
and wants that information at the bottom where they only go on second thought.

Visual page design is not linear.  It has a climax in the center and all four
walls are perpheral.  Some of the aural structure is hidden, not necessary or
shown in this presentation.

But if you design in radio/IVR space and map to the page chunking and layout
_later_ you will come close.

This is where we are over the line into "different strokes for different folks
is best" territory.  Since this technology is not in the hands of your
customers, compromise and apply selected redundancy and safety measures.

But don't go hog wild with skip-foo links, either.

The best thing you can do here is to support user-driven navigation of [not
more than seven give or take two] major functional subunits of your page.  Have
a mission statement for each subdivision, follow it, and reflect it in
orientation and navigation capabilities.  You will have to experiment with
techniques to eliminate excess verbosity, things that don't actually work as
planned, etc.  

>And so forth.

Bring more.

>I've done searches of this list, google searches in general, and more and
>have found no good resources for these types of things. Any pointers are
>very welcome.

On the latter point, keywords are orientation, navigation, "page structure"

If that doesn't return results [in Google searches] that are dense enough in
what you want, add things like [any of] asgilman@iamdigex.net kynn.com
w3c-wai-gl@w3.org w3c-wai-ua@w3.org to your search keys.

>Andy J. Williams Affleck                ICQ: 8207775
>andyjw@raggedcastle.com                 AIM: andyjw23
XNS: =Andy Affleck
>"I have a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel"
>                                            -- E. Blackadder
Received on Wednesday, 30 January 2002 09:38:34 UTC

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