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Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines - Current Research-Based Guidelines on Web Design and Usability Issues

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Sort the HHS Guidelines by clicking on any of these headers: Chapter, Title, Relative Importance, Strength of Evidence, and Relative Score. To learn more, visit How to Use the Guidelines Sorting Tool Most Effectively.

Guidelines by Chapter

Chapter TitleRelative
of Evidence
1:1Set and State Goals5210
1:2Use an Iterative Design Approach5525
1:3Evaluate Websites Before and After Making Changes5315
1:4Provide Useful Content5525
1:5Understand and Meet Users' Expectations428
1:6Establish User Requirements4416
1:7Use Parallel Design4416
1:8Consider Many User Interface Issues4312
1:9Focus on Performance Before Preference4312
1:10Set Usability Goals4312
1:11Select the Right Number of Participants4416
1:12Be Easily Found on the Web4416
1:13Recognize Tester Bias3515
1:14Use Heuristics Cautiously2510
1:15Use Cognitive Walkthroughs Cautiously2510
1:16Apply Automatic Evaluation Methods133
2:1Display Information in a Directly Usable Format5315
2:2Do Not Display Unsolicited Windows or Graphics5315
2:3Provide Assistance to Users4312
2:4Provide Printing Options428
2:5Standardize Task Sequences4520
2:6Minimize Page Download Time4416
2:7Warn of "Time Outs"4312
2:8Reduce the User's Workload339
2:9Use Users' Terminology in Help Documentation339
2:10Provide Feedback When Users Must Wait3412
2:11Inform Users of Long Download Times339
2:12Do Not Require Users to Multitask While Reading3412
2:13Design For Working Memory Limitations3515
2:14Develop Pages that Will Print Properly224
3:1Comply with Section 508326
3:2Design Forms for Users Using Assistive Technology428
3:3Provide Text Equivalents for Non-Text Elements428
3:4Do Not Use Color Alone to Convey Information5420
3:5Provide Equivalent Pages326
3:6Ensure that Scripts Allow Accessibility326
3:7Provide Client-Side Image Maps339
3:8Enable Users to Skip Repetitive Navigation Links326
3:9Provide Frame Titles326
3:10Test Plug-ins and Applets for Accessibility326
3:11Synchronize Multimedia Elements224
3:12Do Not Require Style Sheets212
3:13Avoid Screen Flicker212
4:1Design for Common Browsers5210
4:2Account for Browser Differences428
4:3Design for Popular Operating Systems428
4:4Design for User's Typical Connection Speed428
4:5Design for Commonly Used Screen Resolutions224
5:1Create a Positive First Impression of Your Site5420
5:2Ensure the Homepage Looks like a Homepage5420
5:3Show All Major Options on the Homepage5210
5:4Enable Access to the Homepage4312
5:5Attend to Homepage Panel Width4312
5:6Announce Changes to a Website428
5:7Communicate the Website's Purpose326
5:8Limit Prose Text on the Homepage236
5:9Limit Homepage Length122
6:1Set Appropriate Page Lengths4312
6:2Use Frames When Functions Must Remain Accessible4416
6:3Establish Level of Importance4416
6:4Place Important Items at Top Center3412
6:5Place Important Items Consistently3412
6:6Structure for Easy Comparison3412
6:7Use Moderate White Space3412
6:8Align Items on a Page3515
6:9Choose Appropriate Line Lengths2510
6:10Avoid Scroll Stoppers248
7:1Provide Feedback on Users' Location5210
7:2Use a Clickable "List of Contents" on Long Pages4312
7:3Do Not Create Pages with No Navigational Options428
7:4Differentiate and Group Navigation Elements4416
7:5Use Descriptive Tab Labels4312
7:6Present Tabs Effectively339
7:7Use Site Maps3412
7:8Use Appropriate Menu Types3412
7:9Keep Navigation-only Pages Short248
7:10Use "Glosses" to Assist Navigation122
8:1Eliminate Horizontal Scrolling5420
8:2Use Scrolling Pages for Reading Comprehension3412
8:3Use Paging Rather Than Scrolling248
8:4Scroll Fewer Screenfuls224
8:5Facilitate Rapid Scrolling133
9:1Use Clear Category Labels5420
9:2Use Unique and Descriptive Headings5315
9:3Use Descriptive Row and Column Headings339
9:4Use Descriptive Headings Liberally3515
9:5Provide Descriptive Page Titles326
9:6Highlight Critical Data339
9:7Provide Users with Good Ways to Reduce Options224
9:8Use Headings in the Appropriate HTML Order122
10:1Provide Consistent Clickability Cues5420
10:2Avoid Misleading Cues to Click428
10:3Use Text for Links4416
10:4Use Meaningful Link labels4416
10:5Match Link Names with Their Destination Pages4416
10:6Ensure that Embedded Links are Descriptive4416
10:7Repeat Important Links4416
10:8Designate Used Links428
10:9Link to Related Content428
10:10Link to Supportive Information326
10:11Use Appropriate Text Link Lengths339
10:12Indicate Internal vs. External Links326
10:13Use "Pointing-and-Clicking"339
10:14Clarify Clickable Regions of Images339
11:1Use Black Text on Plain, High-Contrast Backgrounds5525
11:2Ensure Visual Consistency5525
11:3Format Common Items Consistently5210
11:4Use at Least 12-Point Font4520
11:5Use Familiar Fonts3515
11:6Emphasize Importance3515
11:7Use Attention-Attracting Features when Appropriate2510
12:1Order Elements to Maximize User Performance4520
12:2Display Related Items in Lists4416
12:3Introduce Each List4416
12:4Format Lists to Ease Scanning4416
12:5Start Numbered Items at One428
12:6Place Important Items at Top of the List3412
12:7Capitalize First Letter of First Word in Lists122
12:8Use Appropriate List Style144
13:1Distinguish Required and Optional Data Entry Fields5315
13:2Detect Errors Automatically5315
13:3Minimize User Data Entry5315
13:4Label Data Entry Fields Clearly5315
13:5Put Labels Close to Data Entry Fields5210
13:6Label Pushbuttons Clearly428
13:7Label Data Entry Fields Consistently4312
13:8Allow Users to See Their Entered Data4312
13:9Display Default Values428
13:10Use a Minimum of Two Radio Buttons428
13:11Use Radio Buttons for Mutually Exclusive Selections3412
13:12Use Check Boxes to Enable Multiple Selections339
13:13Use Familiar Widgets339
13:14Use a Single Data Entry Method3412
13:15Partition Long Data Items326
13:16Do Not Make User-Entered Codes Case Sensitive326
13:17Place Cursor in First Data Entry Field326
13:18Provide Auto-tabbing Functionality339
13:19Label Units of Measurement339
13:20Ensure that Double-Clicking Will Not Cause Problems326
13:21Do Not Limit Viewable List Box Options236
13:22Use Open Lists to Select One from Many224
13:23Prioritize Pushbuttons224
13:24Minimize Use of the Shift Key144
13:25Use Data Entry Fields to Speed Performance155
14:1Use Video, Animation, and Audio Meaningfully4520
14:2Include Logos4416
14:3Limit Large Images Above the Fold4312
14:4Limit the Use of Images339
14:5Label Clickable Images3412
14:6Ensure that Images Do Not Slow Downloads3515
14:7Use Thumbnail Images to Preview Larger Images326
14:8Graphics Should Not Look Like Banner Ads3412
14:9Use Simple Background Images3515
14:10Include Actual Data with Data Graphics3412
14:11Display Monitoring Information Graphically248
14:12Introduce Animation236
14:13Ensure Website Images Convey Intended Messages236
14:14Use Images to Facilitate Learning155
14:15Emulate Real-World Objects144
15:1Define Acronyms and Abbreviations428
15:2Use Abbreviations Sparingly428
15:3Use Familiar Words4312
15:4Use Mixed Case with Prose4520
15:5Avoid Jargon4416
15:6Make First Sentences Descriptive3412
15:7Use Active Voice3412
15:8Write Instructions in the Affirmative326
15:9Limit the Number of Words and Sentences3412
15:10Limit Prose Text on Navigation Pages339
15:11Make Action Sequences Clear248
16:1Organize Information Clearly5420
16:2Put Critical Information Near the Top of the Website5315
16:3Facilitate Scanning4520
16:4Group Related Elements4520
16:5Display Only Necessary Information4416
16:6Ensure that Necessary Information is Displayed428
16:7Format Information for Multiple Audiences4312
16:8Design Quantitative Content for Quick Understanding3515
16:9Use Color for Grouping2510
17:1Provide a Search Option on Each Page5210
17:2Ensure Usable Search Results5420
17:3Allow Simple Searches5420
17:4Make Upper-and Lowercase Search Terms Equivalent428
17:5Design Search Engines to Search the Entire Site414
17:6Design Search Around Users' Terms4416
17:7Notify Users When Multiple Search Options Exist339
17:8Provide Search Templates236

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