HHS has published 187 "research-based Web design and usability guidelines" to help government and other organizations build better sites.
The complete set of guidelines is available online at http://usability.gov/pdfs/guidelines.html.
The National Cancer Institute, initially developed the guidelines to help Web managers improve the presentation of cancer information on federal Web sites for patients and families.
The scope of the project was expanded to use research rather than personal opinions to establish peer-reviewed guidelines that make any Web site more usable, whether designed by government, commercial, academic or other entities.
The guidelines involve design issues such as accessibility, home page design, page and site navigation, graphics, writing and organization.
NCI staff compiled the guidelines from a variety of sources, including existing Web design and style guides, published research articles, publicly available usability test reports and lessons learned from in-house usability tests, says NCI Director Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D.
Each guideline contains a statement about the principles behind it and citations of supporting research. A "strength of evidence" score ranges from strong to weak depending on the number of formal studies backing each guideline and the extent of agreement among Web development experts. Also, a "relative importance" score of one to five was created to help Web site designers determine which guidelines should receive higher priority.
"These guidelines are a wonderful resource for improving our communication efforts to better meet the needs and expectations of all citizens who turn to HHS for help," says HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson in a written statement.