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Intro To Web Design . MSIT 588 Dr. Carl Rebman. Good Web Site Design Matters. NY Times, Aug 30 1999, on IBM Web site “Most popular feature was … search … because people couldn't figure out how to navigate the site“

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intro to web design
Intro To Web Design

MSIT 588

Dr. Carl Rebman

good web site design matters
Good Web Site Design Matters
  • NY Times, Aug 30 1999, on IBM Web site
    • “Most popular feature was … search … because people couldn't figure out how to navigate the site“
    • “The second most popular feature was the help button, because the search technology was so ineffective.”
  • After redesign
    • use of the "help" button decreased 84 percent
    • sales increased 400 percent

Good Web Site Design can Lead to Healthy Sales

  • Overview of Basic Web Design
  • Web Design Patterns
basic web design
Basic Web Design
  • Let's take a closer look page by page
What site is this?
    • Logo in top-left corner denotes the site
    • Another logo at top-right to reinforce
What kind of site is this?
    • Shopping cart icon
    • Tab row content
    • Categories on left
    • Prices in content area
What can I do here?
    • Welcome for new visitors
    • Tab row / Search on top
    • “Categories”
    • Prices
    • All links are clear
Above the Fold
    • Most important info visible without scrolling
What site am I at?
    • Logo in upper-left reinforces brand, can click to go to home
    • Same font, layout, color scheme also reinforces
Where am I in the site?
    • “Home > Music” are location breadcrumbs
    • Tab row says “Music”
    • Album cover, “Product Highlights”, and CD cover
What can I do?
    • See more info about this album
    • “Buy!” “Buy!” “Buy!”
    • See more info about specific CDs
Can I trust these sellers?
    • Who am I buying from?
    • Are they reputable?
    • What about shipping?
The Fold
    • Hmm, what’s below here?
Impulse buy
    • Recommended products
  • About this album
  • Lots of unused whitespace
  • Still more info below…
Is this product any good?
    • Editorial reviews
    • Customer reviews
  • Some important info below the fold here
    • Nothing critical though
What site am I at?
    • Logo in upper-left
    • Colors, layout, font
Where am I in the site?
    • Last link clicked was “Buy!”
    • “Shopping Cart” and “Proceed to Checkout” reinforce that this is “the right page”
    • Possibly a pleasant surprise
    • Impulse buy
What am I going to buy?
    • Easy to remove
    • Easy to move to wishlist
  • How much will it cost?
    • Shipping costs there, no nasty surprises
What can I do?
    • “Proceed to Checkout” action button
      • Visually distinct
      • 3D, looks clickable
      • Repeated above and below the fold
What if I don’t have a User ID?
  • What if I forgot my password?
Error message
    • Small, hard to see
    • Too far away from where people will be looking
    • Page looks too similar to last page (did anything happen?)
What site?
    • Logo, layout, color, fonts
  • Where in site?
    • Checkout, step 1 of 3
    • “Choose shipping address”
Note what’s different
    • No tab rows
    • No impulse buys
    • Only navigation on page takes you to next step
  • This is a Process Funnel
    • Extraneous info and links removed to focus users
quick flow checkouts1
Quick-Flow Checkouts
  • Last step of process
    • Step 3, “Place Order”
    • “Place my order” button
  • Two buttons for fold
quick flow checkouts2
Quick-Flow Checkouts
  • No nasty surprises
    • Can see order
    • Total price is same as shopping cart
quick flow checkouts3
Easy to change shipping and billing
  • Easy to save this info
    • Easier to setup info in context of specific task instead of setup first
    • Clearer to users why this info is needed in former
Quick-Flow Checkouts
design patterns
Design Patterns
  • Design is about finding solutions
    • Unfortunately, designers often reinvent
      • Hard to know how things were done before & to reuse solutions
  • Design patterns communicate common design problems & solutions
    • First used in architecture [Alexander]
    • Ex. How to create a beer hall where people socialize?
design patterns2
Design Patterns
  • Not too general & not too specific
    • Use solution “a million times over, without ever doing it the same way twice”
  • Design patterns are a shared language
    • A language for “building and planning towns, neighborhoods, houses, gardens, and rooms.”
    • Ex. Beer hall is part of a center for public life…
    • Ex. Beer hall needs spaces for groups to be alone…
design patterns3
Design Patterns

(8) Mosaic of Subcultures


& Towns

(33) Night Life

(31) Promenade

(90) Beer Hall



(95) Building Complex


(179) Alcoves

(181) The Fire

web design patterns
Web Design Patterns
  • Now used in Web design [van Duyne, Landay, & Hong]
    • book shipping this week
    • published by Addison-Wesley
  • Communicate design problems & solutions
    • how to create navigation bars for finding relevant content…
    • how to create a shopping cart that supports check out…
    • how to make e-commerce sites where people return & buy…
web design patterns book
Patterns broken into related groups

Site genres

Navigational framework

Home page

Content management

Trust and credibility

Basic ecommerce

Advanced ecommerce

Completing tasks

Page layouts


Page-level navigation


Web Design Patterns Book
process funnel h1
Process Funnel (H1)
  • Problem – Need a way to help people complete highly specific stepwise tasks
  • Desktop Solution
process funnel h11
Process Funnel (H1)
  • Web Solution
    • “Next” to step forward
    • “Back” to undo
process funnel h12
Screen 1

(Step 1)

Screen 2

(Step 2)

Screen N

(Step N)

Process Funnel (H1)
  • Some problems
    • How much longer before I finish?
    • Why are there ads and nav bars?
    • What if users need extra help?
process funnel h13
Process Funnel (H1)
  • Problem – How much longer?
  • Solution – Progress bars
process funnel h14
Process Funnel (H1)
  • Problem – Why ads and nav bars?
  • Solution – Remove them and present minimal interface
  • New problem – What site?
  • Solution – Keep the logo, layout, colors
process funnel h15
Process Funnel (H1)
  • Problem – What if users need extra help?
  • Solution – Use pop-up windows because we want to keep people in the funnel
related patterns process funnel h1
Related PatternsProcess Funnel (H1)

(A1) E-Commerce

(A10) Web Apps

(A11) Intranets

(H1) Process Funnel

(K2) Navigation Bars

(H8) Context-Sensitive Help

(K3) Tab Rows

(I2) Above the Fold

(K4) Action Buttons

(K5) High-Viz Action Buttons

(K12) Preventing Errors

(K13) Meaningful Error Messages

meaningful error messages k13
Problem – When customers make mistakes, they need to be informed of the problem and how to recover


Clear statement of problem

Explain how to recover

Position near the problem

Meaningful Error Messages (K13)
Clear error message
    • Two messages at top
  • Explain how to recover
    • Says it is missing required information
  • Position near the problem
    • Error messages far
    • Required info marked in green, hard to see
Clear error message
  • Explains how to recover
  • Positioned near the problem
related patterns meaningful error messages k13
Related PatternsMeaningful Error Messages (K13)

(H1) Process Funnel

(H2) Sign-in / New Account

(F1) Quick-Flow Checkout

(K12) Preventing Errors

(K11) Familiar Language

(K13) Meaningful Error Messages

web design patterns1
Web Design Patterns

(B1) Multiple Ways to Navigate



(B2) Browsable Content

Search / Wizard /

Relate / Promote

(K3) Tab Rows

(K2) Navigation Bar


(K10) Obvious Links

(L2) Fast-Downloading Images


web design patterns2
Web Design Patterns

(A1) Personal E-Commerce

(H1) Process Funnel

(F1) Quick-Flow Checkout

(F3) Shopping Cart

(I1) Grid Layout

(I2) Above the Fold

(K4) Action Buttons

(L2) Fast-Downloading Images

  • Lots of issues involved in designing web sites
  • Design patterns one way of capturing good design knowledge
further reading books on web design
Further ReadingBooks on Web Design
  • Web Design in a Nutshell. Jennifer Niederst. O'Reilly , 1999.
  • Design of Sites. Doug Van Duyne, James Landay, Jason Hong. Addison-Wesley. 2002.
  • Information Architecture for the World Wide Web. Louis Rosenfeld and Peter Morville. O'Reilly, 1998.
  • Don’t Make Me Think! Steven Krug. Que, 2000.
further reading books on web design1
Further ReadingBooks on Web Design
  • Community Building on the Web. Amy Jo Kim. Peachpit Press, 2000.
  • Designing Visual Interfaces: Communication Oriented Techniques. Kevin Mullet and Darrell Sano. Prentice Hall / SunSoft Press. 1994.
  • Understanding Comics. Scott McCloud. Kitchen Sink Press, 1994.
  • Designing Web Usability. Jakob Nielsen. New Riders Publishing, 1999.
further reading websites on web design
Further ReadingWebsites on Web Design
  •, links to other usability sites
  •, for building accessible websites
  • Web pages that suck, at
  • Net tips for designers, at
  • User Interface Engineering, at
  • ZDNet Ecommerce Best Practices, at
further reading websites on web design1
Further ReadingWebsites on Web Design
  • New York Times Ecommerce Times, at
  • usability log
  • CNet, info on building sites
  • ACM’s CHI-Web Mailing List
  • web log
  • Jakob Nielsen