NCI Usability Guide

Subject: NCI Usability Guide
From: "Goldstein, Dan" <DGoldstein -at- DeusTech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 2003 10:12:18 -0500

Thanks to Merry Bruns, I downloaded the full PDF of the National Cancer
Institute's Web usability guide: "Research-Based Web Design & Usability
Guidelines." See -- and please
note that the PDF file is nearly 40 MB!

Geoff Hart mentioned the Guidelines in a TECHWR-L thread about 2.5 years ago
(, and according to Karen Zorn, they were featured
at a January 2003 STC event in Arizona (

Following are a few excerpts from the NCI's introduction to the guide:

"Why Did NCI Create the Guidelines?... to provide quantified, peer-reviewed
website design guidelines. This resource does not exist anywhere else. Most
Web design guidelines are lacking key information needed to be effective.
For example, many guideline sets: are based on the personal opinions of a
few experts; do not provide references to support them; do not provide any
indication as to whether a particular guideline represents a consensus of
researchers, or if it has been derived from a one-time, non-replicated
study; and do not give any information about the relative importance of
individual guidelines... Each guideline in this book shows a rating of its
'Relative Importance' to the success of a website, and a rating of the
'Strength of Evidence' supporting the guideline... The ratings allow the
user to quickly ascertain which guidelines have the greatest impact on the
success of a website, and to determine the nature and quality of the
supporting evidence."

My workload hasn't allowed me to study them in detail, nor do I have the
background to judge if they are properly quantified and peer-reviewed.
Still, I'm fascinated by the idea.

Dan Goldstein



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