HHS issues usability guide for site design

The Health and Human Services Department has issued Web design guidelines based on extensive research into user-friendliness and accessibility.

HHS secretary Tommy G. Thompson today announced the availability of the Research-Based Web Design and Usability Guidelines.

HHS' National Cancer Institute originally developed the guidelines to communicate cancer information to the public, but the department revised the guidelines to make them applicable to all federal Web sites.

'An important part of creating a citizen-centered Web site is the use of research on how citizens interact with Web sites,' Thompson noted in a foreword to the guide. 'This book, which translates research into practical, easy-to-understand guidelines, helps those in charge of federal Web sites save time and valuable resources.'

The resource has 187 guidelines, each including a statement of principle and supporting research citations. Each guideline is rated on the strength of its supporting evidence and its relative importance to the overall success of a Web site.

'The greatest benefits from these research-based guidelines will accrue to those who create effective processes for their implementation,' said Ben Shneiderman, a University of Maryland computer scientist and expert on human-computer interfaces, in a separate forward.

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