Usability Guidelines

Work in progress

These guidelines include most factors to consider during a usability evaluation of a web site. Not all factors apply to every site. The guidelines are a work in progress. Check back periodically for a new version

  • Current location within the site is shown clearly
  • Link to the site's main page is clearly identified
  • Major/important parts of the site are directly accessible from the main page
  • Site map is provided for a large, complex site
  • Easy to use Search function is provided, as needed


  • Site accommodates novice to expert users
  • Functions are clearly labeled
  • Essential functions are available without leaving the site
  • Plug-ins are used only if they add value

User Control

  • Site reflects user's workflow
  • User can cancel any operation
  • Clear exit point is provided on every page
  • Per-page size is less than 50K, to accommodate slow connections
  • All appropriate browsers are supported

Language and Content

  • Important information and tasks are given prominence
  • Information of low relevance or rarely used information is not included
  • Related information or tasks are grouped:
    • on the same page or menu
    • in the same area within a page
  • Language is simple, without jargon

Paragraphs are brief

  • Links are concise, expressive, and visible–not buried in text
  • Terms are defined

Online Help and User Guides

  • Site is designed to require minimal help and instructions
  • Help and instructions, if needed, are easily accessible

System and User Feedback

  • It is always clear what is happening on the site – visual hints, etc
  • Users can receive email feedback if necessary
  • Users can give feedback via email or a feedback form
  • Confirmation screen is provided for form submittal
  • All system feedback is timely
  • Users are informed if a plug-in or browser version is required
  • Each page includes a “last updated” date

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