Usability: Usability.gov

The web usability guidelines published by Usability.gov are a compilation of best practices based on extensive research.

Rules

This section lists the 41 rules covering 36 checkpoints for Usability.gov supported by the current version of the product.

Chapter 1: Design Process and Evaluation

1:1 Provide Useful Content - No rules

1:2 Establish User Requirements - No rules

1:3 Understand and Meet User’s Expectations - No rules

1:4 Involve Users in Establishing User Requirements - No rules

1:5 Set and State Goals - No rules

1:6 Focus on Performance Before Preference - No rules

1:7 Consider Many User Interface Issues - No rules

1:8 Be Easily Found in the Top 30 - No rules

1:9 Set Usability Goals - No rules

1:10 Use Parallel Design - No rules

Chapter 2: Optimizing the User Experience

2:1 Do Not Display Unsolicited Windows or Graphics - 1 rule

2:2 Increase Web Site Credibility - No rules

2:3 Standardize Task Sequences - No rules

2:4 Reduce User’s Workload - No rules

2:5 Design for Working Memory Limitations - No rules

2:6 Minimize Page Download Time - 1 rule

2:7 Warn of ‘Time Outs’ - No rules

2:8 Display Information in a Directly Usable Format - No rules

2:9 Format Information for Reading and Printing - No rules

2:10 Provide Feedback When Users Must Wait - No rules

2:11 Inform Users of Long Download Times - No rules

2:12 Develop Pages that Will Print Properly - No rules

2:13 Do Not Require Users to Multitask While Reading - No rules

2:14 Use Users’ Terminology in Help Documentation - No rules

2:15 Provide Printing Options - No rules

2:16 Provide Assistance to Users - No rules

Chapter 3: Accessibility

3:1 Comply with Section 508 - No rules

3:2 Design Forms for Users With Assistive Technologies - No rules

3:3 Do Not Use Color Alone to Convey Information - No rules

3:4 Enable Users to Skip Repetitive Navigation Links - No rules

3:5 Provide Text Equivalents for Non-Text Elements - No rules

3:6 Test Plug-Ins and Applets for Accessibility - No rules

3:7 Ensure that Scripts Allow Accessibility - No rules

3:8 Provide Equivalent Pages - No rules

3:9 Provide Client-side Image Maps - No rules

3:10 Synchronize Multimedia Elements - No rules

3:11 Do Not Require Style Sheets - No rules

3:12 Provide Frame Titles - No rules

3:13 Avoid Screen Flicker - No rules

Chapter 4: Hardware and Software

4:1 Design for Common Browsers - 1 rule

4:2 Account for Browser Differences - No rules

4:3 Design for Popular Operating Systems - 2 rules

4:4 Design for User’s Typical Connection Speed - No rules

4:5 Design for Commonly Used Screen Resolutions - No rules

Chapter 5: The Home Page

5:1 Enable Access to the Homepage - 1 rule

5:2 Show All Major Options on the Homepage - No rules

5:3 Create a Positive First Impression of Your site - No rules

5:4 Communicate the Website’s Value and Purpose - No rules

5:5 Limit Prose Text on the Homepage - 1 rule

5:6 Ensure the Homepage Looks like a Home Page - 2 rules

5:7 Limit Homepage Length - No rules

5:8 Announce Changes to a Web Site - No rules

5:9 Attend to Homepage Panel Width - No rules

Chapter 6: Page Layout

6:1 Avoid Cluttered Displays - No rules

6:2 Place Important Items Consistently - No rules

6:3 Place Important Items at Top Center - No rules

6:4 Structure for Easy Comparison - No rules

6:5 Establish Level of Importance - No rules

6:6 Optimize Display Density - No rules

6:7 Align Items on a Page - No rules

6:8 Use Fluid Layouts - No rules

6:9 Avoid Scroll Stoppers - No rules

6:10 Set Appropriate Page Lengths - No rules

6:11 Use Moderate White Space - No rules

6:12 Choose Appropriate Line Lengths - No rules

6:13 Use Frames when Functions Must Remain Accessible - No rules

Chapter 7: Navigation

7:1 Provide Navigational Options - 1 rule

7:2 Differentiate and Group Navigation Elements - No rules

7:3 Use a Clickable ‘List of Contents’ on Long Pages - 1 rule

7:4 Provide Feedback on User’s Location - No rules

7:5 Place Primary Navigation Menus in the Left Panel - No rules

7:6 Use Descriptive Tab Labels - No rules

7:7 Present Tabs Effectively - No rules

7:8 Keep Navigation-Only Pages Short - No rules

7:9 Use Appropriate Menu Types - No rules

7:10 Use Site Maps - 1 rule

7:11 Use ‘Glosses’ to Assist Navigation - No rules

7:12 Breadcrumb Navigation - No rules

Chapter 8: Scrolling and Paging

8:1 Eliminate Horizontal Scrolling - No rules

8:2 Facilitate Rapid Scrolling While Reading - No rules

8:3 Use Scrolling Pages for Reading Comprehension - No rules

8:4 Use Paging Rather Than Scrolling - No rules

8:5 Scroll Fewer Screenfuls - No rules

Chapter 9: Headings, Titles, and Labels

9:1 Use Clear Category Labels - No rules

9:2 Provide Descriptive Page Titles - 3 rules

9:3 Use Descriptive Headings Liberally - No rules

9:4 Use Unique and Descriptive Headings - No rules

9:5 Highlight Critical Data - No rules

9:6 Use Descriptive Row and Column Headings - No rules

9:7 Use Headings in the Appropriate HTML Order - No rules

9:8 Provide Users with Good Ways to Reduce Options - No rules

10:1 Use Meaningful Link Labels - 1 rule

10:2 Link to Related Content - No rules

10:3 Match Link Names with Their Destination Pages - No rules

10:4 Avoid Misleading Cues to Click - 1 rule

10:5 Repeat Important Links - No rules

10:6 Use Text for Links - 1 rule

10:7 Designate Used Links - 1 rule

10:8 Provide Consistent Clickability Cues - No rules

10:9 Ensure that Embedded Links are Descriptive - No rules

10:10 Use ‘Pointing-and-Clicking’ - No rules

10:11 Use Appropriate Text Link Lengths - 1 rule

10:12 Indicate Internal vs. External Links - No rules

10:13 Clarify Clickable Regions of Images - No rules

10:14 Link to Supportive Information - No rules

Chapter 11: Text Appearance

11:1 Use Black Text on Plain, High-Contrast Backgrounds - No rules

11:2 Format Common Items Consistently - No rules

11:3 Use Mixed-Case for Prose Text - No rules

11:4 Ensure Visual Consistency - No rules

11:5 Use Bold Text Sparingly - 1 rule

11:6 Use Attention-Attracting Features when Appropriate - No rules

11:7 Use Familiar Fonts - 1 rule

11:8 Use at Least 12-Point Font - 1 rule

11:9 Color-Coding and Instructions - No rules

11:10 Emphasize Importance - 1 rule

11:11 Highlighting Information - No rules

Chapter 12: Lists

12:1 Order Elements to Maximize User Performance - No rules

12:2 Place Important Items at Top of the List - No rules

12:3 Format Lists to Ease Scanning - No rules

12:4 Display Related Items in Lists - No rules

12:5 Introduce Each List - No rules

12:6 Use Static Menus - No rules

12:7 Start Numbered Items at One - 1 rule

12:8 Use Appropriate List Style - No rules

12:9 Capitalize First Letter of First Word in Lists - 1 rule

Chapter 13: Screen-Based Controls (Widgets)

13:1 Distinguish Required and Optional Date Entry Fields - No rules

13:2 Label Pushbuttons Clearly - 1 rule

13:3 Label Data Entry Fields Consistently - No rules

13:4 Do Not Make User-Entered Codes Case Sensitive - No rules

13:5 Label Data Entry Fields Clearly - 1 rule

13:6 Minimize User Data Entry - No rules

13:7 Put Labels Close to Data Entry Fields - No rules

13:8 Allow Users to See Their Entered Data - 1 rule

13:9 Use Radio Buttons for Mutually Exclusive Selections - 1 rule

13:10 Use Familiar Widgets - 1 rule

13:11 Anticipate Typical User Errors - No rules

13:12 Partition Long Data Items - 1 rule

13:13 Use a Single Data Entry Method - 1 rule

13:14 Prioritize Pushbuttons - No rules

13:15 Use Check Boxes to Enable Multiple Selections - No rules

13:16 Label Units of Measurement - No rules

13:17 Do Not Limit Viewable List Box Options - No rules

13:18 Display Default Values - 1 rule

13:19 Place Cursor in First Data Entry Field - No rules

13:20 Ensure that Double-Clicking Will Not Cause Problems - No rules

13:21 Use Open Lists to Select One from Many - 1 rule

13:22 Use Data Entry Fields to Speed Performance - No rules

13:23 Use a Minimum of Two Radio Buttons - 2 rules

13:24 Provide Auto-Tabbing Functionality - No rules

13:25 Minimize Use of Shift Key - No rules

Chapter 14: Graphics, Images, and Multimedia

14:1 Use Simple Backgrounds - 1 rule

14:2 Label Clickable Images - No rules

14:3 Ensure that Images Do Not Slow Downloads - 1 rule

14:4 Use Video, Animation, and Audio Meaningfully - No rules

14:5 Include Logos - No rules

14:6 Graphics Should Not Look Like Banner Ads - No rules

14:7 Limit Large Images Above the Fold - No rules

14:8 Ensure Web Site Images Convey Intended Messages - No rules

14:9 Limit the Use of Images - No rules

14:10 Include Actual Data with Data Graphics - No rules

14:11 Display Monitoring Information Graphically - No rules

14:12 Introduce Animation - No rules

14:13 Emulate Real-World Objects - No rules

14:14 Use Thumbnail Images to Preview Larger Images - No rules

14:15 Use Images to Facilitate Learning - No rules

14:16 Using Photographs of People - No rules

Chapter 15: Writing Web Content

15:1 Make Action Sequences Clear - No rules

15:2 Avoid Jargon - No rules

15:3 Use Familiar Words - No rules

15:4 Define Acronyms and Abbreviations - No rules

15:5 Use Abbreviations Sparingly - No rules

15:6 Use Mixed Case with Prose - No rules

15:7 Limit the Number of Words and Sentences - 1 rule

15:8 Limit Prose Text on Navigation Pages - No rules

15:9 Use Active Voice - No rules

15:10 Write Instructions in the Affirmative - No rules

15:11 Make First Sentences Descriptive - No rules

Chapter 16: Content Organization

16:1 Organization Information Clearly - No rules

16:2 Facilitate Scanning - No rules

16:3 Ensure that Necessary Information is Displayed - No rules

16:4 Group Related Elements - No rules

16:5 Minimize the Number of Clicks or Pages - No rules

16:6 Design Quantitative Content for Quick Understanding - No rules

16:7 Display Only Necessary Information - No rules

16:8 Format Information for Multiple Audiences - No rules

16:9 Use Color for Grouping - No rules

17:1 Ensure Usable Search Results - No rules

17:2 Design Search Engines to Search the Entire Site - No rules

17:3 Make Upper- and Lowercase Search Terms Equivalent - No rules

17:4 Provide a Search Option on Each Page - 1 rule

17:5 Design Search Around Users’ Terms - No rules

17:6 Allow Simple Searches - No rules

17:7 Notify Users when Multiple Search Options Exist - No rules

17:8 Include Hints to Improve Search Performance - No rules

17:9 Provide Search Templates - No rules

Chapter 18: Usability Testing

18:1 Use an Iterative Design Approach - No rules

18:2 Solicit Test Participants’ Comments - No rules

18:3 Evaluate Web Sites Before and After Making Changes - No rules

18:4 Prioritize Tasks - No rules

18:5 Distinguish Between Frequency and Severity - No rules

18:6 Select the Right Number of Participants - No rules

18:7 Use the Appropriate Prototyping Technology - No rules

18:8 Use Inspection Evaluation Results Cautiously - No rules

18:9 Recognize the ‘Evaluator Effect’ - No rules

18:10 Apply Automatic Evaluation Methods - No rules

18:11 Use Cognitive Walkthroughs Cautiously - No rules

18:12 Choosing Laboratory vs. Remote Testing - No rules

18:13 Use Severity Ratings Cautiously - No rules