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Giving Users Control Over the User Interface

how much control over styles do you give?

     

lorax

3:01 pm on Nov 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



From another thread...
Anyone check out what AllTheWeb has done recently for font sizes?

Essentially AllTheWeb allows the user to choose different text sizes for SOME of the text on the screen using style sheets.

I've often thought of this but never implemented it. I guess my default thinking is that users are smart enough to change the text size through their browser or personal style sheet. Now I'm not so sure.

So I have a handful of questions:

  1. Do you offer your users control over how your website looks using style sheets.
  2. If so, what do you allow them to control using your UI?
  3. Also if so, why?
  4. At what point do you feel you will have reached the the boundry of diminished returns? Or how many options/controls are too many?

korkus2000

3:06 pm on Nov 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member korkus2000 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



To me any real control over the site is a gimick. Users who need the options to help them use it correctly won't find it. Useability needs to work across the board. It needs to be useable and readable from the get go. If someone tinkers with it then they are probably making it less useable to the general public.

Nick_W

3:25 pm on Nov 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member nick_w is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Hi guys

To me any real control over the site is a gimick

I agree wholeheartedly with that. Personaly I find the 'change font size' js scripts rather silly.

THere are time in which giving users control over aspects of a site is worthwile though. WebmasterWorld for example, since brett sorted that out my browsing here has improved significantly.

Also, on one of my sites I offer the user the chance to 'reverse colors' from black on white to white on black. This I think is nice as the site caters to many seriously low vision users and some folks find reading white on black easier...

But yeah, most of it is just gimmicks ;)

Nick

lorax

4:14 pm on Nov 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



I think I agree with both of you on this though I was having my doubts. Sort of an "almost cut my hair today..." moment. :)

Still, I'd like to hear some arguments for user customization just for comparison's sake.

holly

4:35 pm on Nov 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Still, I'd like to hear some arguments for user customization just for comparison's sake.

Pros:
[1] Users often do not know where or how to adjust their font sizing in the browser they are using.

[2] An easy tool for the user to see or access.

[3] Some sites with cookies can save these settings for future user visits.

Cons:
[1] If JavaScript is used, will it work for all users? [many have the JavaScript off for a variety of reasons]
* servers side or PHP may be another option for this.

[2] In the case of Cookies, user may browse with cookies disabled, and on sites that save user info or preferences it will not work.

---

In the end it may just be another gimmick or gadget.

Dante_Maure

5:10 pm on Nov 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



To me any real control over the site is a gimick

I'm sure that Brett could chime in with some stats on how many members are using the site customization features here.

I know I do.

I've edited the skin, added useful links to both the header and footer, and have heard multiple mentions from others that have done the same.

I think the real issue is whether your site is a portal, start page, or someplace that folks are likely to be spending a lot of time.

In these 3 instances, site customization is a bona fide feature as opposed to being merely a gimmick.

holly

5:27 pm on Nov 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I think the real issue is whether your site is a portal, start page, or someplace that folks are likely to be spending a lot of time.

Dante made some excellent points. These are very good reasons for User customization. Frequent revisits, community web sites, and even search engines or visiting commercial sites like amazon.com. User preferences and settings often offer another level of service to the consumer. These settings save the user time when he or she re visits the site.

Even if the user does not visit often, this could be useful.

copongcopong

10:11 pm on Dec 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



This gimmick would be very helpful if you are using fix font size on your web page and you would like to make it sure that it would be readable and to be still elegant (Sometimes) on different screen resolutions. ...

Anyways, if you are using Opera and Mozilla/Netscape you may adjust the font size if you know how to adjust and use the browser, (depends on the user)but if you are using IE (a large population are using this), this gimmick is helpful.

Just make it sure that it is in an area in your webpage that is viewable and is readily accessible.

some/most gimmicks may have good purpose too.

Anyways, gimmick is still a gimmick. peace :)

Nick_W

12:41 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member nick_w is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Is anyone trying this? -- Would be great to get some input from someone with experience to share...

Nick

hayluke

1:21 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



slightly off this topic but i worked for a company who produced a site aimed at people with disabilities, for obvious reasons we made it very clear and simple for users to make the font larger. I guess as with most usability it can come down to the target audience. I totally agree though that sites should be usable and readable from the word go so I guess it is a bit 'gimmicky', mind you is that necessarily a bad thing?

chris_f

1:47 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



For very sticky and highly used sites like WebmasterWorld I think it's a great idea (although it's a pain for Brett) On a side note you can now see my skin from the menu. I know I use the custom header/footer for my links all the time.

My online portfolio gives the user the ability to the change the design to a different preset one. My potential clients love it. Basically when you visit the site you are present with the content in one of my designs. You then have the option to change the design. The clients see all the different types of designs and they can learn how designs affect people see the site without the content changing. It also mean, search engines get no design (just pure content) and bad bots / my old company get nothing.

Chris

lorax

2:47 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Is anyone trying this? -- Would be great to get some input from someone with experience to share...

It would be interesting to get Brett's stats on how many users here at WebmasterWorld have customized their UI.

Any way, this morning I wondered if I anticipated an audience that isn't that savvy (knows how to change the font sizes themselves) then I might offer a short primer on how to do it with IE and NN browsers. Could be as short as a single sentence. I figure if folks are using other browsers they are probably already aware of how to make that kind of change. My thinking is that I'd like to design for a compact website but allow - even encourage the user to change the font size to something that is more comfortable for them. Colors etc... are more of a gimmick for sure.

andreasfriedrich

3:00 pm on Dec 2, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



My CMS builds all project with the capability to use different themes (as in Window´s desktop themes). All images and stylesheets reside in a directory structure like this:
root 
+-some_dir
+-php_include
+-themes
..+-standard
....+-css
....+-images
....+-pix
..+-christmas
....+-css
....+-images
....+-pix
I can switch between themes by simply uploading a file which contains the name of the standard theme. The user may set her prefered theme via cookies or temporarily using a URL parameter.

One out of a thousand users actually use this. Even I don´t use it. But if you had your logo in different versions for like x-mas, halloween, world aids day, etc this would be a very nice feature.

Andreas

Brett_Tabke

3:51 pm on Dec 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Of 2k hard core daily users here, almost half have changed something on their skin. This inspite of the less than intuitive nature of the skin system here.

I've not tallied up the specifics recently, but when I checked in August, over half those that had edited theirs, had increased a font size and changed font faces.

ukgimp

4:04 pm on Dec 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Brett

Could that be partialy attributed to the fact you are dealing with a large proportion of enlightened web surfers. In that, what would joe-average-supposidly-daft user do.

Cheers

ikbenhet1

4:13 pm on Dec 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member




Do you offer your users control over how your website looks using style sheets.

css control:
yes, they can change all background colors and textcolors in any table they want, also they can click on a image that show preselected color shemes so the website layout colors changes to the .gif's layout when they click.

javascript control:
Also they can control the colors and style that the cell backgroundcolor have on a onmouseover without having to load the page again. They control outlining and colors of the onmouseover effect. Also they the effect completely off.

Why?
Because it's possible. I like the effects. And it

Allergic

8:05 pm on Dec 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



If we read between lines, Google will jump into it [searchengineshowdown.com] soon to!

denisl

9:47 am on Dec 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Yes,
I have a site created for an education establishment providing information for farmers.
They have the oportunity to register and, amongst other things, choose from a choice of 8 bacground/text colour and text size combinations. The system databases the css to use when that individual logs in.
A bit of a gimmick but useful for eyesight problems and giving a sense of ownership.

lorax

1:25 am on Dec 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member lorax is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



denisl,
Welcome to WebmasterWorld!
 

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