(Un)Usable Websites

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(Un)Usable Websites

Digital Editorial Course

Burg Giebichenstein Halle

SoSe 2022

If a website is unusable, the content is inaccessible to the user. So usability is something every website needs in some form. But rather than checking off as many usability guidelines as possible, it could be more useful to ask: For whom and for what purposes should the website be usable?

Usability is defined by effectiveness, efficiency, and satisfaction. But what is the relationship between these aspects? Sometimes it can be more efficient for the sake of raising the user’s interest, to make a website more complicated. Opaque navigation can make the user spend more time on the site. A website doesn’t have to be easy to use if using it creates positive emotions.

How much can we ask of the user? What do they ask of us? Creating unusable websites can be a compromise or an exploration of the relationship between user and designer. It can be a concession that websites are never finished, that errors and bugs are always part of it. Why not embrace potential failure and choose experimentation over usability?

At the same time, making a website “harder to use” affects different users to a different degree. Issues of accessibility, digital literacy, and inclusiveness have to be considered. Not everything has to be for everyone. But it should be an active decision, whether or not a user gets lost on a website, for whom the site is accessible and if we want to fix or feed the bugs.

The course aims to redefine usability by creating a digital glossary. This will consist of small web experiments exploring different terms, which we will design and code individually or in groups. The course consists of an introduction to basic HTML, CSS, and JS, different inputs, coding sessions, and consultations. No prior coding experience is needed and students with no coding experience are especially encouraged to participate. Different entry points for different experience levels will be provided.