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Usability Study: Kent State School of Library Science Website

Kent State University School of Library Science Web Site

Site Design

The most basic level of usability is accessibility. Although it is beyond the scope of this analysis to consider problems that disabled users may have, it is useful to look at the site through the eyes of the Javascript-disabled or the DSL-disabled, those who do not have the latest, most up-to-date browsers with all the options turned on. One thing in the KSU SLIS site’s favor is the lack of any necessary plugins, like Flash or QuickTime VR, which some users might not have installed. The home page and the site’s navigation bar do use Javascript, which some users may have turned off, but disabling Javascript does not completely break the site’s navigation. It does, however, mean the users only have access to the first level of the navigation hierarchy from the homepage, which might make it a little more difficult to figure out which section is the appropriate one to go to.

On the plus side, the site is fairly slow-connection friendly. The entire homepage, including the Javascript rollover images, is only about 163K. The site makes appropriate use of alt tags for images, so anyone using a text-only browser like Lynx or surfing with images off will still be able to get around. Again, they will miss the descriptive second-tier categories for each section. The site is fully navigable in a full-text browser, but there are two problems: first, the homepage has no descriptive text, and second, there’s not always a link back to the homepage, probably because the image that links back has not alt text on most pages.

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