404 Pages

404 pages are the worst. As a user, you don’t know why you can’t find what you need; as a designer, you hate that users can’t find what they need. On the IU Libraries website, there is a chat box on all 404 pages, providing the user the opportunity to immediately connect with a librarian, who can then point them in the right direction and provide further research help. However, not all 404 pages are the same-check out a collection of some of the best 404 pages (some of which include cats and Storm Troopers!).

Context and the mobile web

You can’t miss the chatter about mobile these days, and the realization that we may need to provide content in different ways to serve users in a mobile context. As DUX begins to take a renewed good look at our strategy (and armed with our spiffy new mission statement), we are re-evaluating what it means to provide services “where the users are” – for example, it no longer makes sense to build one website for desktop workstations, a completely different one for mobile devices, and yet another separately maintained application to provide services within Oncourse. Instead, we need to have a mobile strategy to repurpose our content and create – as Lorcan Dempsey says in this blog postdistributed experiences for multiple connection points. And it makes more sense now to think about the contexts within which our users are working, rather than to focus on the specific device or technology they may be using.

Dempsey’s post linked above is worth a read, as he nicely summarizes a lot of the issues around the current state of mobile information environments. In particular, do take a few minutes to view the slideshare presentation on “Beyond the Mobile Web” that’s embedded within the post; it nicely describes how the context (important keyword there) in which we use the Web has changed because of new mobile technologies.

Has the context of information seeking changed for our users, and is that due at least in part to the proliferation of the mobile web? If you have one or more mobile devices, have you changed your information-seeking habits? (I know I have! Even at home, I often grab my smartphone first – if I’m just checking email, looking up a dictionary definition, tweeting, or even reading a newspaper article, the phone is faster, more convenient, and let’s face it, more fun than firing up my aging, creaky old laptop.) What do you think?

Accessibility Tip: Helping Dyslexic Users

Here’s a group of users we often forget about when we consider making our web pages accessible: dyslexic readers. Dyslexia is a fairly common disability, and we no doubt have quite a few folks in the IU community who live with it.

There are some easy guidelines we can follow when creating web pages that will make them easier for people with dyslexia – and for others, too – to read. Check out this very clear and helpful article from UXMovement: 6 Surprising Bad Practices That Hurt Dyslexic Users. And then read this response from someone who is actually dyslexic, outlining what actually works for them (which may not hold true for every person with dyslexia): A Dyslexic’s Thoughts on Webpages

Questions or comments about this or other web accessibility issues? We’d love to hear from you – leave a comment on this post, or get in touch with anyone from DUX!

Accessibility Tip: Using the “alt” tag

Whether you are uploading your image via the Content Manager’s image upload widget or linking it in some other way, one of the necessary HTML attributes for any image is the alt tag. The text in your alt tag is used by screen readers, so that people who access the web using this assistive technology will be able to get the information that you are conveying in your image.

Userfocus has published an absolutely terrific post outlining five different ways to use alt text, and when you should use each kind. Read it here.