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  1. #26
    infant
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    Happy birthday. :)
    Nobody is saying that everyone over 50 is flabbergasted by the web, the net, navigation or new programs. However, it is noticeable that young people are more prepared to skimread sites & programs and poke around with the functions before fully understanding them - learning by trial and error.
    Most young people (say the 16-24 age group) think of clicking, scrolling, dragging, submenus & mouseovers as intuitive. If these are the people who are designing sites, that 'well, it's obvious, isn't it?' may be the assumption that leads to the usability gap.

    Article-writer didn't mention any issues with the one age-related thing I have noticed. It's the way some people are resistant to learning how to use a program because they're insulted by not knowing how. 'It should be more obvious' and 'why on earth don't they say so!' are the usual snapped phrases.

  2. #27
    The Mind's I ® silver trophy Dark Tranquility's Avatar
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    Just read this one very nice it gave some ideas

  3. #28
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    Improving usability for older users: Web 2.0

  4. #29
    SitePoint Zealot Digital Portrait's Avatar
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    What a great read and an eye opener!
    Take the spot is no more

  5. #30
    Put your best practices away. The New Guy's Avatar
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    Sigh. An increase in old people eh? I hate that stat. Whenever I see it I think lazy marketing.

    From what I have read most the problem is not with the website but with the people. I know "old people" who are net savvy and I know people who are not. But, should we really be taking off our doors because some people are to uneducated to open them. Should little timmy in 9th grade be forced to read shakespeare?

    YES! god damn it. How else will people learn? Anything less is insulting to the person trying to learn.

    "We here at website X take into account that you are old and aren't net savvy. We have made our website even easier to navigate, because your old and can't see well. You haven't been around the internet most of your life, and because your old you will never learn to use it properly. Because we want your money, please except this horribley dumb downed version of our site. If you continue to have trouble please call your grandchildren over for assistance" - Signed Your Arrogant Website X

    My recommendations of your recommendations:
    • Designers should investigate innovative ways to communicate the fact that a page is not finished and requires scrolling. No. Just No.
    • Technical terms should be avoided if possible. Where they have to be used, a clear explanation must be easily accessible (including examples wherever appropriate). Yes! Stop screwing with the english language you stupid marketing twits!
    • Links should be identified in a consistent and obvious way (e.g. blue, bold, underlined; red on mouse-over). No. Never again!
    • The attention-grabbing features on a page (e.g. headings, pictures, icons, instructions and bullets) should be links. Umm? If links should be the above, haven't you broken your own rule? In any case. Of the "old people" I know they never figure out the images are clickable.
    • Visited links should change colour. No.
    • Provide an HTML-version of as much content as possible and do not require users to install software (even Adobe Acrobat) in order to be able to access information. This is annoying to everyone. STOP USING PDF's.
    • Make content as concise and clear as possible. Consider providing two versions of the same content ('simple' and 'detailed') and allow users to decide which they want to access. All language should be simple. If it's complex your just being a tool.
    • Sites should provide a 'Make the writing bigger' link with accompanying illustrations or icons and always use high contrast to display text e.g. black text on an off-white background (n.b. using an off-white background is preferable to white because it reduces the chances of eyestrain for people who are slow readers). So your going to teach them strange illustrations to make text change, that would be unstandardized over many websites? Why not just teach them how to use the browser properly.
    • Provide explicit instructions by using the imperative forms of verbs (e.g. 'Go to more details on...', 'Find a...', etc.). Going back to my "door" example. Your basically telling them to turn the knob. And of course the response will be. Whats a knob?
    Last edited by The New Guy; Apr 1, 2006 at 12:17.
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  6. #31
    SitePoint Author silver trophybronze trophy

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    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Designers should investigate innovative ways to communicate the fact that a page is not finished and requires scrolling. No. Just No.
    Agreed. The browser already has a mechanism for this, and websites shouldn't attempt to duplicate such things.

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Technical terms should be avoided if possible. Where they have to be used, a clear explanation must be easily accessible (including examples wherever appropriate). Yes! Stop screwing with the english language you stupid marketing twits!
    Agreeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Links should be identified in a consistent and obvious way (e.g. blue, bold, underlined; red on mouse-over). No. Never again!
    I strongly disagree. They may not have to be blue and underlined, but they must be clearly identifiable as links. There's nothing worse than having to go 'treasure hunting' to find links on a page.

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    The attention-grabbing features on a page (e.g. headings, pictures, icons, instructions and bullets) should be links. Umm? If links should be the above, haven't you broken your own rule? In any case. Of the "old people" I know they never figure out the images are clickable.
    Agreed. This one is just odd. Bullets being links?

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Visited links should change colour. No.
    Yes!

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Provide an HTML-version of as much content as possible and do not require users to install software (even Adobe Acrobat) in order to be able to access information. This is annoying to everyone. STOP USING PDF's.
    Agreed, but it's not always possible. There are things HTML and CSS cannot do, so sometimes you may still need PDF. But you shouldn't use PDF (or other third-party formats) unless you have to.

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Make content as concise and clear as possible. Consider providing two versions of the same content ('simple' and 'detailed') and allow users to decide which they want to access. All language should be simple. If it's complex your just being a tool.
    Agreed.

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Sites should provide a 'Make the writing bigger' link with accompanying illustrations or icons and always use high contrast to display text e.g. black text on an off-white background (n.b. using an off-white background is preferable to white because it reduces the chances of eyestrain for people who are slow readers). So your going to teach them strange illustrations to make text change, that would be unstandardized over many websites? Why not just teach them how to use the browser properly.
    Agreed. Websites should not attempt to duplicate browser functions. People who surf the Net need to learn how to use their browser. Some onus is on the user, to quote a famous member of these forums.

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Provide explicit instructions by using the imperative forms of verbs (e.g. 'Go to more details on...', 'Find a...', etc.). Going back to my "door" example. Your basically telling them to turn the knob. And of course the response will be. Whats a knob?[/list]
    Agreed. This may possibly be worth considering on a page that only targets absolute newbies. For anyone else, it's just patronising.
    Birnam wood is come to Dunsinane

  7. #32
    Now available in Orange Tijmen's Avatar
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    Very interesting article, i was suprised that some people didn't understand that they should be using the scrollbar to view the rest of the page. And it doesn't really suprise me that older people would prefer 800x600 over 1024x768, since the amount of older people will only be increasing over the next decade it looks like we still need keep the 800 resolution in mind.

    I really hope i would never start talking like this -> "one participant even talked to the website as if it were a pet ("That's a good boy")!"
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  8. #33
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    Nice article.. the elderly audience is a group forgotten by many... now the majority of people is growing old you can see allot of bussiness trying to target more on them.. simpler phone's special tv channels etc..
    Go visit my site :-D you know you want to ;-)
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  9. #34
    SitePoint Guru LinhGB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tijmen
    And it doesn't really suprise me that older people would prefer 800x600 over 1024x768,
    It doesn't surprise me since the twit that set up that old folk's computer usually doesn't know how to increase the font size, nor change the default Windows resolution because he doesn't know how to install the graphic card driver for example. I know plenty of 60+ who use 1280x1024 (19" LCDs) or 1024x768 (various sized monitors, >=17").

    Quote Originally Posted by AutisticCuckoo
    Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Visited links should change colour. No.

    Yes!
    That's a definite "No!" from me. What use is it? It makes the page look stupid, and besides, the colour of a visited link will lose when the cache automatically expires often after about 10 days. How many times do you think an old person visits a website within a period of 10 days? I don't think an old person even knows that there's such a think called "visited link", or "active link", for that matter. With regards to links, designers should pay more attention to those stupid target=_new or target=_blank links instead, as it makes people lose their main browser window, navigation and sense of control. I've seen so many times a person (old or young) goes "where's my other window?" after clicking on one of those links. It renders their best friend - the browser's Back button - useless.

    I actually have a strong hatred for coloured visited links for some reason. I do not want websites trying to be smart and guessing which links I have visited. Sites that colour visited links often make themselves look fugly as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by The New Guy
    Provide explicit instructions by using the imperative forms of verbs (e.g. 'Go to more details on...', 'Find a...', etc.). Going back to my "door" example. Your basically telling them to turn the knob. And of course the response will be. Whats a knob?
    I think I pretty much agree with all you said, especially this one. I can give you the answer the person asking that question has in his/her head: the "knob" is the designer/developer of that site.
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  10. #35
    SitePoint Addict bwdow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rozner
    Interesting article, I guess we can't say goodbye to 800 x 600 just yet.
    I have already started to "dig a grave to 800x600"

  11. #36
    gingham dress, army boots... silver trophy redux's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LinhGB
    the colour of a visited link will lose when the cache automatically expires often after about 10 days.
    But for the duration of a regular site visit it helps everybody (not just old people) understand which page they've already been to.

    How many times do you think an old person visits a website within a period of 10 days?
    oh...how nicely patronising.

    I don't think an old person even knows that there's such a think called "visited link", or "active link", for that matter.
    they may not know the terminology, but they'll learn the concept of "visited link" by association. "active link" is a tiny usability enhancement, providing visual feedback to an action - not essential, granted.

    I actually have a strong hatred for coloured visited links for some reason.
    and because *you* have that hatred, everybody else has too?

    I do not want websites trying to be smart and guessing which links I have visited.
    aeh...they're not guessing. you've either visited a link or you haven't.
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  12. #37
    SitePoint Guru LinhGB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by redux
    But for the duration of a regular site visit it helps everybody (not just old people) understand which page they've already been to.
    And the point of understanding that will be?

    oh...how nicely patronising.
    Yeah? It's called knowing your audience, which is the whole point of this research. Otherwise, we'll all design for 1280x1024 or greater, because we can't assume that old people are stuck with old screens, as that's patronising.

    they may not know the terminology, but they'll learn the concept of "visited link" by association. "active link" is a tiny usability enhancement, providing visual feedback to an action - not essential, granted.
    And the point of that will be?

    and because *you* have that hatred, everybody else has too?
    I was offering my personal view on the matter. Believe it or not, there are more people of my age visiting websites than old people. If you cater for a minority and forget about the majority then you're screwed.

    aeh...they're not guessing. you've either visited a link or you haven't.
    They are guessing, and making a poor attempt at that too. Just because I clicked on a link doesn't mean that I actually visited or read it. I could click on a link by mistake, which btw a lot of people do (old or young). Colouring the visited links could make the users think that they have already visited the pages, when in fact they haven't. Now that's confusing and bad for usability.
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  13. #38
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    LinhGB, you need to understand that there are people who aren't exactly like you. Quite a lot of them, actually. Different people have different needs and that's exactly what web accessibility is about.

    You may not like differently coloured visited links. But you're savvy enough to use a decent browser and write a simple user style sheet that makes all links the same colour.

    Another person, however, may not be a computer professional and may need some visual feedback on visited links. An elderly person may have slightly poorer short-time memory, for instance. A technological novice may be nervous and frustrated about using a computer, and needs every bit of help s/he can get.
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  14. #39
    SitePoint Guru LinhGB's Avatar
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    I'm only offering a personal view on the matter. I realise that my preference is not the same as others. My point was exactly as the one you're making right now: some people have different needs to what you assume (in your case: people love differently coloured visited links). I'm not the only one who holds that opinion on visited links either.

    Yes I can write my own user stylesheet and so on, but just because I can, doesn't mean that I like to be forced to do it. Unless it is a site I visit daily, I just can't be bothered.

    Another person, however, may not be a computer professional and may need some visual feedback on visited links. An elderly person may have slightly poorer short-time memory, for instance. A technological novice may be nervous and frustrated about using a computer, and needs every bit of help s/he can get.
    Exactly how is colouring a visited link differently help a visitor? Help him/her to do what better? And how is it helping when people click on links by mistakes all the time, and that the visited link list is automatically cleared with the cache every 10 days or so (depending on browser's settings)?

    I'm all for helping people to have a better web experience, but this is not helping, this is confusing them.
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  15. #40
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    Colouring the visited link different can help the user; assuming I went to as site how would you know which links you had clicked without using the back button, etc.

    Yes obviously the user can make mistakes and I haven't used the best example but it would certainly help me. The question is how would it help the user if the web author were to be so ignorant that they didn't indicate that a link had been visited. The less savvy person should had read in the browser manual visited links usually change colour.
    Last edited by xhtmlcoder; Apr 4, 2006 at 03:39.

  16. #41
    SitePoint Guru LinhGB's Avatar
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    The back/forward buttons are the user's life support on the Web. You don't need to create more things that do the same thing to confuse them. In your example (indeed it is poor, so I hope you can come up with a better one), say you have a list of links:

    Code:
    * Link 1
    * Link 2
    * Link 3
    * Link 4
    ...
    * Link 10
    Now let's say around half of them have been visited and now coloured differently. The user then clicks on one. Without using the Back/Forward buttons, the user would find it hard to know which one he/she just clicked (assuming that this is someone without a photographic memory) among a list of coloured visited links, mixed with about the same number of unvisited links. No, mate, using the Back/Forward buttons are the only way to find out.

    when the less savvy person had read in the browser manual visited links usually change colour.
    Making a few big assumptions there:

    - Novice computer users actually read the manual. Mate, the whole IT support industry wouldn't exist if the average users spent 5 minutes reading any manual in their entire lives.
    - Novice computer users remember every detail they read in the manual.
    - The manual actually is good and makes sense (99% of them are total nonsense).

    I know I'm also generalising here, but it is based on experience, not a book or some written standards that may or may not be practical.

    You know, browsers already provide users with perfect tools to identify visited links when it is in their interest to know it: the Back/Forward buttons and most important of all, the bookmark (I'd mention URL history and URL autocompletion too but it is essentially the same as the visited link list). The coloured visited link is so volatile (it relies on the browser's cache for heaven's sake!) that you cannot rely on it to make a good guess, so we shouldn't present that to our users. It will only cause confusions. If you want to educate users, show them how to use the aforementioned browser features.

    Web authors like me don't colour the visited links because we have good reasons (at least as far as we know) not to. If you can only resort to calling us ignorant and cannot offer decent counter arguments, then don't bother.
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  17. #42
    Robert Wellock silver trophybronze trophy xhtmlcoder's Avatar
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    Let's have some distraction; theoretically you have just said colouring a visited link serves no purpose other than to confuse the user. Therefore in the same context you thus confuse them just as much by not indicating a difference.

    I am sure you agree back and forward don't indicate visted links either unless of course you have an extremely good working-memory. The memory would have to hold several steps back and several forward previously at an exact timeline, which certainly would overburden my cognitive memory skills. Timeline being the major player as it could be hours.

    Typically without colour change many users unintentionally revisit the same pages repeatedly or may get confused more easily because their understanding of each link's meaning is reduced.

    I agree the last paragraph structure was disproportionate (as you were quoting from person with a disability).

    Though it basically still asks the same question; how does it help not to colour them, for the sake of things we'll ignore a common style navigation rollover-bar.

    If you can be so kind as to find me several complex large websites for me to test where they don't use colour change. Plus don't force me to linearly back-trace (or click a link I have already visited by accident) I shall be pretty amazed to say the least.

  18. #43
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    Even if it were the case that not many elderly people NOW view the web frequently, with the internet as commonly used as it is now the number is only going to increase.

    It is true lots of elder users don't know how to increase the font text, so I like to have alternate style sheets for larger fonts, or refrain from using micro-text to begin with.

  19. #44
    SitePoint Guru LinhGB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xhtmlcoder
    Let's have some distraction; theoretically you have just said colouring a visited link serves no purpose other than to confuse the user. Therefore in the same context you thus confuse them just as much by not indicating a difference.
    What kind of logic is this? The more distinct features you add to an entity, the more complex and confusing it gets. Not adding more of those makes it simpler, not confusing.

    I am sure you agree back and forward don't indicate visted links either unless of course you have an extremely good working-memory. The memory would have to hold several steps back and several forward previously at an exact timeline, which certainly would overburden my cognitive memory skills. Timeline being the major player as it could be hours.
    That is true, and once more I'll show why indicating visited links is confusing (bit further down).

    Typically without colour change many users unintentionally revisit the same pages repeatedly or may get confused more easily because their understanding of each link's meaning is reduced.

    Though it basically still asks the same question; how does it help not to colour them, for the sake of things we'll ignore a common style navigation rollover-bar.
    OK we'll now need to discuss why one needs to know whether this link has been visited or not. Colouring a visited link originates from the old Web where static pages dominated and there were hardly any dynamic content. It was safe (to a large extent) to assume that once you've visited a page, it is read and you don't want to read the same content again (unless you choose to, of course).

    In contrast, these days, dynamic content and web applications are the norm, which make the concept of a visited link obsolete and confusing to users. Take for example this forum section - Accessibility and Usability. Now SitePoint's stylesheet colours it as visited for me. How useful is that when the content of this "page" could change and does change every minute/hour/day?

    Another example: GMail. How useful would it be if Google coloured the Inbox link as visited for me? I surely have visited it many times, but its content changes constantly, so colouring it as visited doesn't mean anything.

    Another example on a content site: I have a site where fans translate a certain type of novels (to English) and post their work on it. These novels usually consist of 40+ chapters, each of those is about 35~40 pages long. During the course of translation, the content changes as the translators cannot upload the whole lot but part by part instead. Then there's proofreading, editing, etc. Now to a reader, having the chapter link coloured as visited doesn't help much if at all for a chapter that the translators are working on. It doesn't inform them whether they have read the entire chapter or not. Changes are updated via a RSS feed anyway, which are loaded on the frontpage and relevant sections of the site so that's how my readers know what's new. As I can tell from the bookmark stats, the vast majority use the bookmark (or Favourites) to record the chapter or book they are reading. Now that's the most important one: people want to know what they are reading and where to find it, not what they have read (it's not important anymore).

    Adding to this the clicking by mistakes and the issue of partially read/visited links, I really can't see the relevance of it anymore. You can choose to implement it if you wish. After all, it is available as an option in CSS. However, stating that it is an all important thing if web authors care about accessibility and usability is incorrect.

    If you can be so kind as to find me several complex large websites for me to test where they don't use colour change. Plus don't force me to linearly back-trace (or click a link I have already visited by accident) I shall be pretty amazed to say the least.
    Go check out Gmail, microsoft.com, windowsupdates, soccernet.com (quick link: http://soccernet.espn.go.com/index?cc=3436 ), uefa.com, php.net ... I wasn't even trying, I just got them off my personal bookmark bar.
    "I disapprove of what I say,
    but I will defend to the death my right to say it."

  20. #45
    Mark S
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    I think there is likely a good reason it's called a "visited" link, and not a "page I don't want to read again" link.

    Dynamic content or not, we're still dealing with a Uniform Resource Locator. Even though it's contents may have been expanded, or updated, its location remains the same, and being dynamic doesn't change the fact that you have visited that particular address.

  21. #46
    SitePoint Guru LinhGB's Avatar
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    Yeah? Well, seems that you didn't really read my previous argument. Why is it so important for a person to know that he/she has visited a particular address? Could you give a good reason why, for example, Google should colour the Inbox and Settings links in Gmail differently because I've visited them?

    There are zillion types of information we can extract from a user's browsing behaviors and actions on our websites. It doesn't mean that we should present all of those to them. You can choose to colour visited links, and that's OK, I'm not suggesting that coloured visited links should be banned but it is not a must-have when accessbility and usability are concerned, and should not be a recommendation. That's essentially my argument.
    "I disapprove of what I say,
    but I will defend to the death my right to say it."

  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by LinhGB
    Yeah? Well, seems that you didn't really read my previous argument. Why is it so important for a person to know that he/she has visited a particular address? Could you give a good reason why, for example, Google should colour the Inbox and Settings links in Gmail differently because I've visited them?

    There are zillion types of information we can extract from a user's browsing behaviors and actions on our websites. It doesn't mean that we should present all of those to them. You can choose to colour visited links, and that's OK, I'm not suggesting that coloured visited links should be banned but it is not a must-have when accessbility and usability are concerned, and should not be a recommendation. That's essentially my argument.

    This is Mark S, didn't realize the comments on the articles were mirrored on the forums (newbie here, yes).

    Oh, I read your previous post. In fact, I read it several times as I could hardly believe what I was reading. while I don't personaly care if you implement them or not, there are people that come here to learn, and I'd not like to see them take your reasoning, or lack thereof, as accepted design practice.

    I'm not familiar with the gmail interface, but frankly don't see any relation to the discussion on visited links. Though your email client's interface may be constructed as a web page, it's use and function are an entirely different subject than the use of a normal website. It's about as relevant as changing folder colors in your window manager, or on a billboard.

    That said, all of the 3-4 different email clients that I've used do change the look of a message listing once I've read it (from bold to not). They also change the look of each accounts inbox folder when a new message arrives (by placing a number next to it), and again when I've read that message in that folder. Regardless, I don't think email clients are realy all that relevent to the subject.

    To give an example where visited links are useful (as in an improve Usability):

    If I were to visit a site lookig to buy, say, a model train set ... I look at 5 different models, and ponder what to buy overnight (or maybe I go look at some other sites and compare prices, or maybe my computer locks up and I have to reboot). If I come back later intending to make a purchase... maybe I've forgotten specific model names or if they were catagorized under different Rail companies... If the links that I had visited earlier have a slightly different appearance, I will be able to quickly scan the pages and retrace the links I followed previously, as apposed to randomly bouncing around the site or having to read through each feature set again to find the products I'm looking for.

    Yes, it's easy to say "that's the users fault for not writing it down, or remembering", but placing blame is not an aid to anyone.

    I'm a designer also and though I do enjoy a well laid out / styled site, it should go without saying that the odds are very great that I am at that site for a specific purpose, not to simply admire the profound color coordinating skills of the designer... which likely aren't all that great if they can't work in a slight color shift without ruining the aesthetics.

    On main catagory links, if there are few, like SitePoint uses up top, I can totaly accept the lack of the difference for the visited links. However catagorically stating that "stating that it is an all important thing if web authors care about accessibility and usability is incorrect", shows a lack of understanding of the concept, in my opinion.

    I think it's safe to say that the people who write the recommendations, and those who create the browsers (which do display visited links in a different color by default if none is specificly set) have likely done much more usability and accessibility testing, and put a lot more thought into this than most of us here. If the feature were totaly without merit, it wouldn't be included.

    I'm guilty of hard coding my colors in the past, but I do follow the recomendation now, as they make perfect sense to me.

  23. #48
    tony
    SitePoint Community Guest
    I totally agree with Zachnefein.

    Someone has gone to a lot of hard work in doing these studios on test groups (for their own reasons) and then taking time to share their findings with us.

    I thank the author of this report as things like this help me to stand out as a concientious designer who designs with all users in mind without necessarily compromising the overall look.

    In my opinion, LinHGB's narrowminded outlook is not ging to help his/her career at all.

    Anyone who actually does care about the small things that make a difference (to useability and revenue), will www.marketingexperiments.com a really good read.

  24. #49
    SitePoint Guru LinhGB's Avatar
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    Who's being narrowminded?

    You're saying it is a must-have, as the article recommends.

    I'm saying it should only be optional.

    Sorry I have the balls to disagree with one conclusion of an article. Obviously the author is god-like.

    I'm progressing very well in my career, thanks very much.
    "I disapprove of what I say,
    but I will defend to the death my right to say it."

  25. #50
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    molona's Avatar
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    The article is interesting and does bring a point. I haven't read all the comments, sorry. I do think that these recommendations should be taken into account, if you are worried about usability and accessibility.

    What I mean that it is not only older people that have problesm with the text size, and most of the users don't know how to change it (at least, in my experience)

    Sites should be beautiful, I like beauty, but, most of all, should be useful, and to be useful, they need to be usable as well.

    And there are quite a few people worried about viruses and bugs, although it is true that older people tend to panick :-)
    Last edited by molona; Apr 9, 2006 at 09:49.


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