Heidi L. Everett
Purpose: To investigate whether Web design rules historically are prescribed or whether designers are encouraged to think critically about how Web design choices relate to the complex situation of human-computer interaction. Specifically, this study explores how Web design rules have evolved since the mid-1990s and the influencing factors, if Web design instruction has dictated rules or encouraged designers to think critically about the design decisions being made, and, finally, if Web design principles are based on cognitive learning or visual communication theories, situated in best practices, or simply replicated.
Method: Content analysis of a sampling of 40 textbooks and general-interest publications on Web design from 1995 to 2014.
Results: Overall, Web design texts encourage designers to think critically about audiences. Changing technology clearly played a key role in the evolution of instruction. Finally, Web design instruction included some level of reference to cognitive learning theory or visual communication theory. While the appearance of theory-based word units in Web design texts coupled with discussion about technological capabilities and audience suggests Web design instruction does a solid job of situating design practices in theory, technology, and the complex situations in which the Web user operates, the depth of discussion varies greatly from text to text.
Conclusion: The various treatments of theory in texts calls for further study to better understand which approach is more effective in communicating the theories as a whole as well as their application in Web design.
Keywords: Web design, design principles, visual communication theory, cognitive learning theory, human computer interaction
- Web design and the Web user experience have quickly evolved and changed at a rate and in ways that traditional print never did.
- Understanding user expectations of design conventions for this ever-changing medium is ripe with challenges and opportunities.
- Cognitive learning theory and visual communication theory call for consistency, repetition, and similarity in order for Web users to learn, remember, and recognize information and organization on the Web.
- Designers must satisfy audience extremes and Web design instruction must facilitate careful consideration of these audiences as technology and user experiences rapidly change.
In his April 2013 article “Cargo Cults in Information Design,” Michael Albers discussed the problem of designers “rigidly applying design rules without a clear understanding of why the rule exists or whether it applies to the situation” (p. 59). He argued that “human-information interactions are inherently complex and nonlinear,” and cargo cults emerge because of an “overly prevalent attempt at reducing complex situations to simple situations” that “apply across all situations” (2013, p. 59).
The study described below tests Albers’ argument by examining how Web design rules are situated in complex human-computer interactions. Through a content analysis of 40 Web design books, it explores the evolution of Web design “rules” from the mid-1990s to today. The fundamental question under investigation is whether Web design rules are simply prescribed (without an understanding of why, to use Albers’ phrase) or whether designers are encouraged to think critically about the design choices being made based on audience, context of use, and other factors.
This study is important for several reasons. First, research to date suggests Web design matters for the overall perceived credibility of a Website as well as the organization responsible for a Website (Fogg et al., 2003; Lazar, Meiselwitz, & Feng, 2007; Nielsen, 2002; Robins & Holmes, 2008).
Second, technological development in the first 20 years of the World Wide Web has been a continual game-changer for Web designers and Web users. In sharp contrast, the world of print has been relatively static for hundreds of years, allowing print designers and readers a set of predictable layout standards and expectations. As Walter Ong (1991) pointed out in his book Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word, print has been “locking up the type in an absolutely rigid position” (p. 122) and allowing for the mass production of “identical objects” (p. 126) in an “exactly repeatable visual statement” (p. 127). Web design and the Web user experience, on the other hand, has quickly advanced from the slow transferring of data via landlines and 26k modems hooked up to large, heavy, and cumbersome desktop computers to instant, unlimited data access via citywide Wi-Fi on mobile devices.
Further, Web users have been able to control several aspects of how they receive and interact with a Website, from receiving and viewing text-only versions on preferred browsers in the mid-1990s to viewing mobile-friendly versions and instantly contributing content today. Defining standards and best practices – as well as understanding user expectations – for this ever-changing medium is ripe with challenges and opportunities. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has made great strides in developing Web standards for “building and rendering Web pages” and describing how to make pages “accessible to people with disabilities (WCAG), to internationalize them, and make them work on mobile devices” (Web design and applications). These standards are largely technology driven and less about how individuals perceive and understand information on the Web.
Third, reading print and reading online is different; therefore, the presentation of content should be treated differently. As Ong (1991) noted, “Just as writing reconstituted the originally oral, spoken word in visual space, print embedded the word in space more definitively” (p. 123). The visual space of the online environment can be anything but definitive, requiring Web designers and Web visitors to have different expectations about engagement with content. In the book The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information, Richard Lanham (2006) argued that traditional typographical design of print “aims not to be seen,” so readers “plunge without typographical self-consciousness right into the meaning” (p. 46). He refers to this world of print as “an economy of sensory denial” which “economizes on most of the things we use to orient ourselves in the world we’ve evolved in” (p. 46). In contrast, “digital expression has heightened our expressive self-consciousness both of words and of images and sounds” (p. 142). Web users are required to interpret more than words on a Web page and to interpret information in a non-linear fashion. Studies have shown screen-based reading behavior is characterized by more time spent on browsing and scanning, keyword spotting, one-time reading, non-linear reading, and reading more selectively; less time is spent on in-depth reading and concentrated reading (Liu, 2005; Kuiper et al., 2008). Web users – and Web designers – must develop and employ what Howard Gardner (2006) called “spatial intelligence” (p. 14). Gardner defined intelligence as the ability to “solve problems or fashion products that are of consequence in a particular cultural setting or community” (p. 6). Spatial intelligence allows for the “problem solving . . . required for navigation, visualizing objects from different angles, and understanding use of space” (Gardner, 2006, p. 14) as well as designing and interpreting spatial function for meaning and cues (Baehr, 2007; Messaris & Moriarity, 2005). In this electronic environment, Web designers are required to understand how best to present words, images, and sounds for effective Web communication. In addition to keeping abreast of technology developments and how Web visitors use technology, Web designers can inform their practice by drawing upon proven principles in cognitive learning theory and visual communication theory that apply across different media.
Cognitive science is the study of how the human behaviors of perception, learning, and memory affect information processing (Head, 1999). Cognitive learning theory and visual communication theory embrace the Gestalt principles of organization that describe how learners recognize and remember (Bernhardt, 2004; Head, 1999; Mullett, 1995). These theories relate specifically to – and should inform – Web design practices to focus and guide Web users’ attention and help Web users achieve a task (Head, 1999; Mullet, 1995; Raskin, 2000).
To examine if Web design instruction historically has been situated in complex human-computer interactions, the following research questions guided this study:
- How have Web design rules evolved since the mid-1990s and what are the influencing factors (for example, technological development, content management practices, Web 2.0 tools, multimodal communication practices)?
- Does Web design instruction through textbooks and mainstream publications (like Web Design for Dummies) simply dictate rules or does it encourage designers to think critically about the design decisions being made, to think about the why behind design choices?
- If designers are encouraged to think critically about design choices, are the guiding principles based on cognitive learning or visual communication theories or situated in best practices?
For purposes of this study, the term Web design included both designing the layout of Web pages as well as the design of information. Both are important – and have been recognized as such throughout the last 20 years – because good Web design:
- can “bring [Web visitors] inside and, once they are in, [try] not to confuse or frustrate them” (Black & Elder, 1997, p. 177).
- “creates visual logic and seeks optimal balance between visual sensation and graphic information” (Lynch & Horton, 1999, p. 53).
- “is a combination of the experience, surprise and feeling good on the one hand, and clear orientation, functionality, and shopability on the other” (Gerdes & Nachtwey, 2000, p. 35).
- can “make sense of data and shape information on a matter to a purpose” (Waters, 2003, p. 11).
- “captures attention,” “controls eye movement,” “conveys information,” and “evokes emotion” (Golombisky & Hagen, 2010, p. 6).
- “brings order from chaos” and “reduces the effort of reading” (White, 2011, p. 3).
Selection of Texts
This study focused on a sampling of textbooks and general-interest publications on Web design over the last 20 years. The initial reading list was collected using key-term searches of Web design at Google Scholar, Amazon.com and two Minnesota state college and university libraries as well as a physical visit to the Web design section at Barnes and Noble. Further, text recommendations made by other scholars were considered.
To narrow the study’s scope and initial results of book selection, book titles that included the words Web, Website, and/or design were selected. Book titles that focused on coding (for example, HTML, CSS, Java, and JQuery) or Web development software (for example, Dreamweaver, Flash, and so forth) were excluded.
From the initial reading list, a total of 40 books (see Appendix A) were selected to represent each of the following five-year periods:
- 1995 to 1999
- 2000 to 2004
- 2005 to 2009
- 2010 to 2014
Content Analysis & Coding
Books were analyzed using content analysis in three steps. The first step was to identify common word units related to Web design that were “on the surface and easily observable” (Potter & Levine-Donnerstein, 1999, p. 259). The initial schema of word units was divided into four categories, as shown in Figure 1. Each of these word units was further broken down to related word units that also were easily observable. For example, the term fonts was expanded to include type, size, and color. Navigation was expanded to include buttons, hyperlinks, URLs, and navigation bar.
The second step was the implementation of a protocol based on the research questions. The following protocol was used:
- Did the text include the Web design word unit?
- If yes, did the text give a rule relating to the word unit using command language?
- If yes, was the rule based on one or more of the following guiding principles:
- Technical specification – for example, use standard system fonts to minimize changes to Web page appearance across platforms and devices.
- Grounded in theory – for example, use serif fonts for easier reading because the tails allow readers to follow and predict letter shape.
- Situated in practice – for example, use a font like Wild West to add pizzazz to your page.
- Did the text provide a visual example of the rule in action?
- Did the text provide comparative visual examples?
The third step of the content analysis was identifying word units related to cognitive learning and visual communication theories. In general, identifying technical rules was easily observable. Conversely, determining whether or not rules were grounded in theory or situated in practice often required drawing upon latent content – or that which is not easily observable – to identify patterns or judge the meaning in the content (Potter & Levine-Donnerstein, 1999, p. 259). A word like alignment, for example, may have been identified as technology, practice, or theory depending on the context of use:
- how to code alignment in a table cell or on Web page,
- a recommendation to center text for visual appeal, or
- left-justifying all text for easier reading and page flow.
Overall, Web design texts didn’t simply prescribe rules. Instead, all texts encouraged designers to think critically about audiences. Changing technology clearly played a key role in the evolution of Web design instruction. Finally, Web design instruction included some level of reference to cognitive learning theory or visual communication theory.
All 40 texts examined in the study addressed audience considerations when designing a Website. Discussions of audience included awareness of the Web user’s technology and skill level, behavior with technology, method of seeking information or reading on the Web, purpose for visiting a Website, and tasks to complete on a Website. That said, the amount of space dedicated to the topic of audience varied significantly from book to book and time period to time period; some books merely mention audience occasionally, others discuss audience throughout each chapter, and others devote entire chapters to audience.
From 1995 to 1999, the predominant discussion regarding Website users was based on the technology available to them. More specifically, texts discussed Web-safe colors, compatible font usage and size, modem speed, download speed, and user control of the experience as it related to technology.
During that time frame, modem speed and page load time surfaced in all discussions of graphics and use of audio or video. Designers were advised there was no acceptable delay (Black & Elder, 1997) or that a Web page should take less than 10 seconds to load (Lynch & Horton, 1999). When typical modem speeds doubled from 28k of information transfer per second to 56k, designers were warned, “Don’t get spoiled” (Williams & Tollett, 1998, p. 18).
Early texts also recommended involving the target audience in Website planning and development with a few exceptions. One text suggested getting feedback on Website design from coworkers and friends and to simply “Play around a bit” (Toyer, 1999, p. 101). Another text encouraged designers to judge the design based on personal preference: “What do you like? What don’t you like?” (Durie & Flanagan, 1999, p. 130).
Finally, Web designers were encouraged to build multiple Website versions to account for browser compatibility as well as to accommodate users who prefer to view a text-only site (Tapley, 1999). One author pined for a day when ” . . . we have the ability to design the environment through which the Website is viewed. When designers can determine whether you will experience a site using one or more windows, and whether you will experience sound or video” (Gassaway, 1997, p. 55). That day did not come to pass as Web design practice entered the 2000s and designers were encouraged to “make it easy” for Web audiences by “stay[ing] with their skill level and technology level” (Stauffer, 2002, p. 32).
The early 2000s ushered in the era of the end-user with a focus on usability (Brinck, Gergle, & Wood, 2002; Donnelly, 2001; Galitz, 2002; Kentie, 2002; Krug, 2000; Nielsen, 2000; Spool, 1999; Stauffer, 2002), user-centered design (Cato, 2001; Donnelly, 2001), and user experience (Brinck et al., 2002; Galitz, 2002). While Web design instruction still referenced page load time or browser compatibility, the focus shifted to how Web users interact with technology, specifically: their understanding, expectations, and comfort level with Web technology, behavior patterns, and how they use Web technology to complete tasks. An in-depth discussion of these approaches to Web design is outside the scope of this study; however, it is a noticeable shift based simply on the titles of books published after 2000.
Finally, the Website design convention that was situated in the best practices of newspaper culture – designing above the fold – held strong as a design rule throughout the 20-year time period. While many texts cautioned against asking Web users to scroll horizontally or vertically, designing above the fold was specifically mentioned in 25% of texts and as late as 2014 (McManus).
Accessibility and Inclusive Design
Only 28 of the 40 books addressed accessibility and how individuals with varying physical or cognitive abilities engage with a Website. For example, two books addressed the use of color as it relates to color blindness (Eisenberg & Eisenberg, 2006; Golombisky & Hagen, 2010). Similarly, four books discussed the use of alt tags for accessibility as well as for Website users who prefer text-only viewing of a Web page (Lynch & Horton, 1999; Flanagan, 1999; Baehr, 2007; Macdonald, 2009).
Several books offered complete chapters on accessibility or accessibility design tips peppered throughout the text (Nielsen, 2000; Brink, Gergle, & Wood, 2002; Galitz, 2002; Stauffer 2002). Comprehensive accessibility guidelines were offered by Todd Stauffer (2002), who addressed voice commands, speak-aloud content, aural props, and the ability for audiences to cue the read-aloud function with pauses, speech rate, and voice preferences. David Whitbread (2009) offered a broader definition of accessibility when he discussed how design exclusion impacts older adults, people with disabilities as well as “economically vulnerable” groups who are affected by changing technology (p. 34).
Cognitive Learning and Visual Communication Theories
In his 2002 book Fresh Styles for Web Designers: Eye Candy from the Underground, Curt Cloninger railed against the usability movement – and specific scholars Jakob Nielsen and Jared Spool – for facilitating a “generation of safe, bland, copycat Websites that are about as engaging as a book on usability testing methodologies” (p. 4). He explicitly addressed cognitive learning theory and visual communication theory by turning it on its head and recommending designers “exploit expectations” through “intentional misalignment,” “sloppy boundaries,” and a “nomadic” navigation bar (p. 102). To be fair, Cloninger also recommended designers ensure these approaches are appropriate for the audience and purpose of the Website. While Cloninger’s statements were an anomaly in the texts, discussion of contrast, emphasis, consistency, and alignment are considered essential to the effectiveness of a Web page and the Web user experience.
As noted previously, Web page design serves a dual function: to provide a visually stimulating design and to order the flow of information. Both functions can be achieved through typographical cueing techniques such as contrast, consistency, alignment, and proximity that focus user attention and allow for predictability, learnability, and scanning of information (Mullett, 1995; Head, 1999; Raskin, 2000; Kostelnick & Hassett, 2003).
Of the 40 texts, most included theory-based word units as shown in Figure 2. Contrast and emphasis were the most common word units with mentions in 33 of the texts. Repetition and consistency collectively had 31 mentions. Approximately half of the texts mentioned proximity, alignment, balance, and flow.
The frequent appearance of these theory-based word units in Web design texts seems like a positive attribute. Coupled with discussion about technological capabilities and audience, one might interpret this to mean that Web design instruction does a solid job of situating design practices in theory, technology, and the complex situations in which the Web user operates. The treatment of the theory-based word unit – that is, the amount of explanation or depth of discussion about the word unit – varies greatly from text to text. Three treatments of the word units were evident in the Web design books: (1) written explanation of the design convention, (2) explanation of the theory-based word unit with visual examples of the design convention, and (3) dedicated chapters to theory-based design.
To illustrate these three treatments, the sections below provide examples of how the theory-based word contrast was treated in several texts. While these examples focus on that single word unit, similar treatment was found for the remaining words on the list shown in figure 2.
Treatment 1: Written Explanation of the Design Convention
The first example of a written explanation includes contrast as part of a larger discussion on readability. Donnelly (2001) merely mentioned contrast in a list of design concepts:
” . . . guidelines to help make text easier to read on a screen, including:
- Using negative contrast (for example, black text on white background);
- Using mixed case and a well-designed screen font;
- Having a good balance of text and white space;
- Formatting the text to have a comfortable line length of 10-12 words per line or 40-60 characters;
- Making the text left aligned;
- Using a sans serif typeface;
- Having non-justified text” (p. 93)
Other texts provided slightly more explanation of the word unit and how it aids the user experience. For instance, Brinck (2002) explained contrast as a key to interpreting overall Web page structure and organization.
“Contrast is critical to overall balance and structure, differentiating elements within a display and controlling the users’ gaze . . . A full page of text will be viewed as a solid mass with no clues as to how the user should proceed, while an overly graphic page containing too many highly contrasted elements will disrupt the ability of the user to find the relevant content.” (p. 188)
Similarly, Morris and Hinrichs (1996) included a mention of contrast in a callout (figure 3) accompanied by the following text to explain how the eye views color:
“Dark red on a dark blue background is not very readable. Neither are some combinations of the same color. Blue is the most notable culprit here. There are fewer blue color receptors in the center of the eye than other color receptors. Blue color variations are harder to distinguish and require a more dramatic difference. Another color contributing to this problem is the fact that monitors have some variation in how they display color.” (p. 174)
Treatment 2: Explanation with Visual Examples
Many texts coupled written explanations of theory-based word units with visual examples of the design conventions in action, as seen in Figures 4, 5, 6 (a and b), and 7 below.
Treatment 3: Dedicated Chapter
Finally, several books dedicated entire chapters to cognitive learning theory and visual communication theory. The chapter titles signal their theory-based content:
- Cognitive design (Morris & Hinrichs, 1996)
- Design basics (Wang, 2004)
- Basic design principles for non-designers (Williams & Tollett, 2005)
- Visual design (Baehr, 2007)
- Memory & perception (Galitz, 2002)
- Mini art school: the elements & principles of design (Golombisky & Hagen, 2010)
All of these examples demonstrate the myriad approaches in which cognitive learning theory and visual communication theory are presented in Web design books to guide critical thinking and to inform practice. This inconsistent approach suggests further study might be needed to better understand which approach is more effective in communicating the theories as a whole as well as their application in Web design.
Discussion and Future Research
The research questions guiding this study asked:
- How have Web design rules evolved since the mid-1990s and what are the influencing factors?
- Does Web design instruction through textbooks and mainstream publications simply dictate rules or does it encourage designers to think critically about the design decisions being made, to think about the why behind design choices?
- If designers are encouraged to think critically about design choices, are the guiding principles based on cognitive learning or visual communication theories or situated in best practices?
Clearly, technology has been an influencing factor throughout the last 20 years of Web design instruction. The content analysis of this study suggests Web design instruction has encouraged Web designers to think critically about technology shifts as well as their audiences’ skill and use of technology. Further, Web design instruction has incorporated design principles based on cognitive learning theory as well as visual communication theory. Some of this theory has been embedded on a surface-level mention within Web design texts while some has been grounded deeply in the text.
The various treatments of theory suggests further study to better understand which approach is more effective in communicating the theories as a whole as well as their application in Web design.
For scholars, practitioners, and educators, the questions become:
- Are all three treatments equally effective in presenting Web design instruction that encourages critical thinking about and understanding of audience and technology?
- Is there a best way or – as Albers (2013) suggested – do we risk encouraging the Cargo Cult mentality by “reducing complex situations to simple situations” that “apply across all situations” (p. 59)?
Future research should focus on testing the three types of treatments and could include usability testing of the Web design instruction coupled with Web credibility testing on Web pages designed with the varying treatments of instruction. That research is increasingly important in the Web’s ever-changing, dynamic environment.
Web design and the Web user experience have quickly evolved and changed in ways that traditional print never did. Understanding user expectations of design conventions for this ever-changing medium is ripe with challenges and opportunities. Consider this: a 4-year-old and an 80-year-old can engage with a traditional book in much the same way. They can open and close the covers, turn the pages, and review the content. That same 4-year-old and 80-year-old might engage with a Web page in radically different ways. The younger of the two might be on a mobile phone in her car seat, swiping, pinching, expanding, tapping, and selecting content with ease while the 80-year-old might be on a desktop computer in the public library trying to identify what to click with her mouse and how to navigate the page. These two extremes represent the spectrum of the diverse audiences that are being designed for.
We know that cognitive learning theory and visual communication theory call for consistency, repetition, and similarity for Web users to learn, remember, and recognize information and organization on the Web. If we refer back to our 4-year-old and 80-year-old, the younger of the two is conditioned to tap or swipe on anything and everything whether the element indicates it’s a responsive element or not. The older Web user, on the other hand, may have been conditioned to identify responsive elements by the blue underlining of a hyperlink, the words click here, and buttons that actually look “pushable.” The challenge is for Web designers to satisfy both of these audience extremes and for Web design instruction to facilitate careful consideration of these audiences as times change.
In Shaping Information: The Rhetoric of Visual Conventions, Kostelnick and Hassett (2003) posited that to understand or change conventions we must consider several factors:
- Discourse communities,
- Rhetorical factors, like document types and their respective cues, and
- External, practical factors like technology (p. 82-83).
The two individuals in the example demonstrate the discourse communities at play. As technology continues to evolve at breakneck speed, the challenge is to adapt and understand which conventions to keep and which are no longer relevant. The answer will be based on the communities that are engaging with the Web (as well as those not engaging with the Web due to barriers or personal choice). Identifying discourse communities will help practitioners understand the rhetorical factors – specifically the document types and visual cues expected for engagement – that drive successful interaction with the Web. In other words, knowing what to keep and what to discard requires a discussion of audience; knowing what to keep and what to discard can be a benefit and be a detriment to novices and expert users, as Mullet points out. Providing “visual affordances (things that suggest interaction possibilities) reminds the user of its availability as well as its operation” (Mullet, 1995, p. 25).
Finally, as content management systems like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Wix, and bludomain offer out-of-the-box Website development and maintenance complete with templates and code, the potential for understanding complex human interaction diminishes in the ease of use. Novice and professional Web designers can add content and go live with a Website rather quickly. A quick review of the 2013 edition of WordPress Web Design for Dummies (Sabin-Wilson) shows that alignment and contrast are the only theory-based words found in the book; however, they are mentioned only as part of directions to complete a technical task.
When Web design is effective, it goes unnoticed. In fact, “. . . the best designs are ones that users never give a second thought about. They describe this quality as invisibility” (Head, 1999, p. 4). For Web designers, however, achieving this invisibility takes a lot of thought.
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Rachey, R. C., Klein, J. S., & Tracey, M. W. (2010). The instructional design knowledge base: Theory, research, and practice. New York, NY: Routledge.
Raskan, J. (2000). The humane interface: New directions for designing interactive systems. Harlow, England: Addison-Wesley.
Robins, D., & Holmes, J. (2008). Aesthetics and credibility in Web site design. Information Processing and Management, 44, 386-399.
Sabin-Wilson, L. (2013). WordPress Web design for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Smith, K. L., Moriarty, S., Kenney, K., & Barbatsis, G. (Eds.). (2004) Handbook of visual communication: Theory, methods, and media. New York, NY: Routledge.
Spool, J. M. (1999). Web site usability: A designer’s guide. San Francisco, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.
Stauffer, T. (2002). Absolute beginner’s guide to creating Web pages. Indianapolis, IN: Que.
Steinfeld, E., & Maisel, J. (2012). Universal design: Creating inclusive environments. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Tapley, R. (1999). Who’s afraid of Web page design? San Diego, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.
Toyer, K. (1999). Build a Web site: The lazy way. New York, NY: Macmillan.
Wang, P.S. (2004). An introduction to Web design and programming. Toronto, ON: Thomson Learning.
Ware, C. (2012). Visual thinking: For design. Burlington, MA: Morgan Kaufmann.
Waters, C. (1996). Web concept & design: A comprehensive guide for creating effective Web sites. Indianapolis, IN: New Riders.
Waters, J. (2003). The real business of Web design. New York, NY: Allworth Press.
Whitbread, D. (2009). The design manual. Sydney, Australia: University of New South Wales Press.
White, A. W. (2011). Elements of graphic design. New York, NY: Allworth Press.
Willard, W. (2011). Web design demystified. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Williams, R., & Tollet, J. (2005). The non-designer’s Web book: An easy guide to creating, designing, and posting your own Web site. Berkeley, CA: Peachpit Press.
About the Author
For more than 20 years, Heidi Everett has led marketing communication teams in retail, international business and higher education. She also teaches business communication, analytical writing, and advanced civic writing at St. Cloud State University. Heidi is completing her PhD in Technical Communication and Rhetoric at Texas Tech University. Contact: Heidi.firstname.lastname@example.org
Manuscript received 26 June 2014; revised 11 October 2014; accepted 20 October 2014.
Appendix: Sampling of Web Design Books from 1995 To 2014 for Content Analysis
1995 to 1999 (11 books)
Web concept & design: A comprehensive guide for creating effective Web sites (Waters, 1996)
Web page design: A different multimedia (Morris & Hinrichs, 1996)
Killer Web design: NetObjects Fusion (Gassaway, 1997)
Web sites that work (Black & Elder, 1997)
Web navigation: Designing the user experience (Fleming & Koman, 1998)
Creating a Web site: How to build a Web site in a weekend and keep it in good shape (Durie & Flanagan, 1999)
Web design in a nutshell: A desktop quick reference (Niederst Robbins, 1999)
Web site usability: A designer’s guide (Spool, 1999)
Web style guide: Basic design principles for creating Web sites (Lynch & Horton, 1999)
Who’s afraid of Web page design? (Tapley, 1999)
Build a Web site: The lazy way (Toyer, 1999)
2000 to 2004 (11 books)
Designing for the Web (Nielsen, 2000)
Web design: The complete reference (Powell, 2000)
Designing easy-to-use Websites: A hands-on approach to structuring successful Websites (Donnelly, 2001)
User-centered Web design (Cato, 2001)
Absolute beginner’s guide to creating Web pages (Stauffer, 2002)
Designing Web sites that work (Brinck, Gergle, & Wood, 2002)
The essential guide to user interface design: An introduction to GUI design principles and techniques (Galitz, 2002)
Fresh styles for Web designers: Eye candy from the underground (Cloninger, 2002)
Web design tools and techniques (Kentie, 2002)
The real business of Web design (Waters, 2003)
An introduction to Web design and programming (Wang, 2004)
2005 to 2009 (9 books)
Handbook of human factors in Web design (Proctor & Vu, 2005)
The non-designer’s Web book: An easy guide to creating, designing, and posting your own Web site (Williams & Tollett, 2005)
Balanced Website design: Optimizing aesthetics, usability, and purpose (Lawrence & Tavakol, 2007)
Design and documentation: Information architecture for the World Wide Web (Morville & Rosenfeld, 2007)
Web Development: A Visual-Spatial Approach (Baehr, 2007)
The complete idiot’s guide to creating a Website (McFedries, 2008)
Visual design for the modern Web (McIntire, 2008)
The design manual (Whitbread, 2009)
Million dollar Website: Simple steps to help you compete with the big boys – even on a small business budget (Culwell, 2009)
2010 to 2014 (9 books)
White space is not your enemy: A beginner’s guide to communicating visually through graphic, Web & multimedia design (Golombisky & Hagen, 2010)
Creating a Website: The missing manual (MacDonald, 2011)
The elements of user experience: User-centered design for the Web and beyond (Garrett, 2011)
Web design demystified (Willard, 2011)
Web design for dummies (Lopuck, 2012)
Build a Website for free (Bell, 2013)
The creative person’s Website builder (Moore, 2013)
WordPress Web design for dummies (Sabin-Wilson, 2013)
Web design in easy steps (McManus, 2014)