Next the usability of the site was discussed. It was important in terms of usability that users felt at home with the site and navigational tools. A Linear layout was rejected, as it was too simplistic. A grid style layout was considered but this too was rejected, as it didn’t meet the design criteria for our system. It was agreed that this method would hinder navigation around the site. A web-linked style site was considered by the group but this was rejected on the grounds that although it was flexible it was thought to be too confusing for the novice user and also visitors could miss out on a lot of what the site had to offer without knowing it. It was decided to adopt a hierarchical style layout. This would be limited to a maximum of three jumps from the home page, so as to keep the layout of the site simple and prevent the site becoming over extended rendering it difficult to use.
In order to make the site easy on the eye it was hoped that the use of a neutral colour scheme and plenty of white space so as not to overburden the user with information would make the site easy to use. The use of white space would entice the user in, highlighting the icons which would be placed vertically down the left-hand side and there would be a back and exit button in the bottom right-hand corner. These positions adhere to web site design conventions and would be consistent throughout the site. Further to this an easily identifiable logo would be positioned in the top right corner of the page to confirm to the user that they were still present on the site proper. It was hoped through the use of a consistent style throughout the systems pages it would assist in the functionality and usability of the system.
Another usability issue was the design of the icons. It was decided that the sole use of icons could be confusing to a new user of the site. So it was decided to frame the icons and label the bottom of the frame with the icons title. So that their function could immediately be ascertained by the user. Also by this labelling it allowed the design of some completely new icons, which would in time, be an easily recognisable and liked feature of the site.
In order to assist the new user with using the system it was decided to incorporate a splash page at the head of the site. On this page would be a link to a tutorial page where newcomers could visit in order to learn how to use the site. Experienced users could click on a button to bypass this feature and go straight into the system proper. Also to assist the user it was decided to incorporate a generic windows style help system as previously stated it would be assumed that most users would already be familiar with a windows type G.U.I and to depart from this would hinder the sites usability. A right click on an element of a page would result in a drop down menu on which would be a help feature. Also it was decided to use a pop up help bubble, which would be activated when the mouse pointer passed over a feature on a page. This was thought to be particularly useful for the search area of the system where it was thought novice users could especially struggle. It was hoped that this style of help system would not be too intrusive and thus alienate the advanced user of the system.
The content of this system is everything. In order for the site to be usable and relevant to the user it was decided to incorporate the use of various features. A search facility was incorporated. This was split into a thorough and simple job search. The search facility itself would have various features incorporated in it. The user would be able to search under the headings of, location, job type, hours to be worked etc.
In conclusion it was agreed that the solution to this project would involve the use of a familiar w.i.m.p. style graphical user interface not too dissimilar from that of the windows interface adopted for Windows 95,98,2000,Me, and windows NT. It would be icon based to which would help in its ease and speed of use. A system that would be fairly straightforward and easy to navigate around the site itself would not be complex, three jumps or pages from home would be the maximum allowed for any one subject. The site design would be open and friendly allowing for intuitive usage ( most people can’t be bothered to read instructions). Usability was at the forefront of the design process and had to be considered at every design stage. If and area of the site isn’t usable or is difficult to use it is will become seldom used and will be made redundant.
Bibliography and References.
Bevan & MacLeod(1994) Usability Measurement In Context.. Behaviour And Information Technology.vol.13 page 132-145 K.Cox & D.Walker (1993) User Interface Design. Prentice Hall. P.Lynch & S.Horton (1999) Web Style Guide. Yale University Press. J.Nielson (1993) Usability Engineering. Morgan Kaufmann.