Expert interview: David Hamill, Good Usability

Many corporate websites are managed by a person or team for whom the website is not their only responsibility. They rely on expertise from third party suppliers for designing, building and maintaining their website.

Companies with dedicated in-house online teams also sometimes lack a particular skill at a given time. Even with the combination of in-house support and an external agency, calling in an expert can provide many benefits.

But who are these experts, what do they do and how can they help? In the first of an occasional series, we speak to David Hamill of Good Usability. He’s an independent usability expert who’s worked on a number of high-profile websites and intranets, for companies such as RBS and the Share Centre.

Read the interview from the beginning or jump to a question that interests you:

An overview of the concept of ‘usability’ Usability alongside ‘user experience’ and ‘accessibility’ Legal requirements for usability on websites What exactly do you do? Usability testing explained Benefits for corporate websites Conflicts with …

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Mobile websites…or not?

Twitter has been buzzing about Jakob Nielsen’s latest Alertbox newsletter, in which he says:

“To solve the problems [users experience on mobile devices], websites should provide special mobile versions.”

My initial thought was that it makes sense in some cases. This is from the perspective of corporate, not e-commerce, websites, because this is where my experience lies.

Does it depend on audience need?

While mobile users may wish for the same experience as other users, for some audiences (such as investors) it comes down to wanting access to business-critical information as quickly as possible.

If this is via a simple site with limited navigation, then surely the minimal investment makes sense? An example is the Rolls-Royce dedicated mobile site, which has been around for some years.

Accessible websites already cater for mobiles

However, I’m not an expert in this area and it’s been interesting to read others’ opinions, especially in relation to accessibility. A Read More

‘Universal usability’? What’s that?

I’ve stumbled across* an interesting website called Universal Usability. It’s the (free) online version of ‘Access by Design: A Guide to Universal Usability for Web Designers’, a book by Sarah Horton.

Sarah describes universal usability as going ‘one step further’ than accessibility. Not only does it try to make content and functionality accessible to all users, it tries to make them usable too.

The book covers a range of topics, from document structure to interactivity, with lots of useful examples. A number of sections interest me as an online writer, including text, images (alt-text), links and editorial style.

Much of it is common sense and is similar to recommendations made by groups such as the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI). Other parts are simply best …

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