Previous issues:

Important Dates

April 30, Thursday, 1:30-4PM, 106 McVey Hall
Register here

Web Publishers Meeting
May 19, 2009, Tuesday, 2PM, location TBA


An Event Apart 2009 - May 4-5 in Seattle -
- May 20-22 in Portland, Oregon -
Spring <br /> Conference - June 9 in Athens, Ohio (campus of Ohio University) -
An Event Apart 2009 - June 22-23 in Boston -
An Event Apart 2009 - Oct. 12-13 in Chicago -
An Event Apart 2009 - Dec. 2-3 in San Francisco -

FYI - All Things Grid - to understand and focus on grid design for your sites -

UK's netmanager - to understand the severity of outside attacks on the our websites -


A study years ago indicated that serif fonts (Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, etc.) were much more pleasing to those viewing text over a display screen than san serif (Georgia, Times-New Roman, Courier, etc.). Now Antonio Carusone of AisleOne brings ways to incorporate proper typography into your web content:

Many people, designers included, think that typography consists of only selecting a typeface, choosing a font size and whether it should be regular or bold. For most people it ends there. But there is much more to achieving good typography and it’s in the details that designers often neglect.

These details give the designer total control, allowing them to create beautiful and consistent typography in their designs. While these details can be applied across different types of media, in this articles we’re going to focus on how to apply them to web design using CSS. Here are 8 simple ways you can use CSS to improve your typography and hence the overall usability of your designs.


The measure is the length of a line of type. To a reader’s eye, long or short lines can be tiring and distracting. A long measure disrupts the rhythm because the reader has a hard time locating the next line of type. The only time a narrow measure is acceptable is with a small amount of text. For optimum readability you want the measure to be between 40-80 characters, including spaces. For a single-column design 65 characters is considered ideal.

-> In addition to Measure, there's Leading, Hanging Quotes, Vertical Rhythm, Widows & Orphans, Emphasis, Scale, and Clean Rags


Something returning to the forefront of site navigation is the drop-down menu. It mainly allows for groups of links and eliminates scrolling down long side menus on a page. With his usual simplicity, logic and helpful screenshots usability expert Jakob Nielsen explains his new passion for this type of navigation:

To prepare for our upcoming Navigation Design seminar, we've been running user studies of various navigation features. As always, some test poorly. Also as always, the more faddish features — such as tag clouds — exhibit major usability problems.

Luckily, other Web trends fare well in user testing because they have inherently good usability and match user behaviors and goals. Indeed, one particular navigation design — the mega drop-down menu — tested well enough that I want to encourage its wider use.

Given that regular drop-down menus are rife with usability problems, it takes a lot for me to recommend a new form of drop-down. But, as our testing videos show, mega drop-downs overcome the downsides of regular drop-downs. Thus, I can recommend one while warning against the other.

As the following screenshots show, mega drop-downs have the following characteristics:

  • Big, two-dimensional panels divided into groups of navigation options
  • Navigation choices structured through layout, typography, and (sometimes) icons
  • Everything visible at once — no scrolling
  • Vertical or horizontal form factors when activated from top navigation bars; when activated from left-hand navigation, they might appear as mega fly-outs.

-> Read entire article


Now that Jakob Nielsen has convinced you they are acceptable and accessible, SitePoint's Raena Jackson-Armitage makes sure we know how to make them work without the pesky half-second delays as she explains the use of jQuery and the hoverIntent plugin.

-> Read entire article


Central Advising Service and Transfer Center -
Economics of Prevention -
Kentucky Women Writers Conference -

Notes from Campus

More on the Importance of Short Descriptive Link Names

In an article titled First 2 Words: A Signal For The Scanning Eye, Jakob Nielsen writes:

Our newest usability study — in preparation for the new Writing for the Web 2 course — tests how well users understand the first 11 characters of a website's links and headlines. For example, we'd represent this article by the "First 2 Wor" string. (Note how the guideline to show numbers as numerals lets me squeeze more meaning into this tiny stump of text.)

Why test text that's so severely truncated? Because online reading is often dominated by the F-pattern. That is, people read the first few listed items somewhat thoroughly — thus the cross-bars of the "F" — but read less and less as they continue down the list, eventually passing their eyes down the text's left side in a fairly straight line. At this point, users see only the very beginning of the items in a list.

On Web and intranet pages, lists occur in many places, including:

  • Search engine results pages (SERP)
  • Lists of current or archived articles, headlines, press releases, and other news items
  • Product listings on category pages
  • Table of contents (ToC) listings
  • Question lists that serve as ToCs at the top of FAQ (frequently asked questions) pages
  • Bulleted or numbered lists, checklists, task steps on a help page or job aid, etc.
Users typically see about 2 words for most list items; they'll see a little more if the lead words are short, and only the first word if they're long. Of course, people don't see exactly 11 characters every time, but we picked this number to ensure uniformity across the sites we tested.

->Read entire article