Looking beyond the obvious

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Smashing Mag has a roundup of 10 usability findings and guidelines, most of which do make sense. But a quick look through the comments provides a warning that not all the tip roundups that show up on the various web design ezines and then get referenced endlessly on twitter and other blog posts should be taken at face value.

Take the one for instance on placement of labels in relation to fields in a form. The Smashing Mag article points to one article that declares it should be this way. A commenter, Juan Lanus, who evidently knows a little more on the topic provided a link to a discussion on the same topic where some people who've really researched the topic weigh in. Look for the comment by Caroline Jarrett, author of "Forms that work: Designing web forms for usability". Caroline says that she'll contact "Dr Kathryn Summers of the University of Baltimore [who] is definitely the expert in designing forms for people with low literacy." And in a follow-up comment, she reports back Dr. Summers' advice.

It's definitely worth the time to read for those who are interested in the subject of usability and provides the perfect illustration of why a site like IXDA may be much more useful for web designers to peruse and hang out at rather than Smashing Magazine.

And sure enough, the advice given in the quick tip is not entirely accurate. There's more to be said ... whole books' worth, evidently.

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