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Peer Review

Yale Web Style Guide



Overall Numeric Rating:

4.33 stars
Content Quality: 4 stars
Effectiveness: 5 stars
Ease of Use: 5 stars
Reviewed: Jun 07, 2001 by Teacher Education
Overview: The content of the Yale Style Guide covers the basics of web design: Philosophy, Interface Design, Site Design, Page Design, Web Graphics, Web Multimedia and Animation. The site also offers Appendices including three extensive bibliographies and a glossary defining terms from buttons to window styles.
Type of Material: Reference or Tutorial.
Technical Requirements: ActiveX viewer is needed to access some of the media. The section on Digital Video requires that a video be downloaded. This could be problematic over some modems. Otherwise, the material is text-based and easily accessible.
Identify Major Learning Goals: The site provides some excellent information about web site design that can help both the novice web site developer and the experienced developer create better web sites. According to the authors, they have provided this style guide ?to apply some of the lessons we've learned in twelve years of multimedia software design, graphic interface design, and book design to the new medium of Web pages and site design.?
Target Student Population: Undergraduate and graduate students who are learning to create websites are the target population. This includes students and their instructors in content area classes, Instructional Design courses, and in Technology in the Classroom courses.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: None is needed to access and learn the information from the website, but an interest in learning information about designing web sites is prerequisite for users who will really take advantage of this site. Experience with the WWW and basic knowledge of web and design terminology would be helpful. If the student is to apply what is learned the student will need to know how to use a program like ?Frontpage? or use HTML programming.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4 stars
Strengths: The use of both verbal descriptions and examples provides the learner with alternative methods of accessing the information. The authors model their web and page-design information based on their experiences and best practice in designing print materials. This has the advantage of allowing learners to make connections with and use knowledge they have about book and page design to designing web sites and web pages. In fact the authors caution: ?Don't get so lost in the novelty of Web pages that basic standards of editorial and graphic design get tossed aside? It's just like high school journalism class: who, what, when, and where.? Much of the information presented is more conceptual than technical, which makes this a good site for novices learning to design web pages and web sites. However, the information on Page Design does offer more technical information.
Concerns: The information on this site was published in January 1997 and has not been updated since then. Fortunately, the authors have informed us that they are currently revising this web site to coincide with the publication of the 2nd edition of the Web Style Guide. However, while the concept of applying best practices in designing print media to web design is a valuable one, it is important to note that this is only one view of web design. Links to sites that present alternative points of view would be valuable in a final section of the Yale Style Guide (YSG), which might be titled ?Additional Perspectives on Web Design.? The authors? cautions against overdoing graphic images because most users are using 28.8 kbps modems seem outdated. Numerous references to the limitations of HTML, especially for graphic design, at a time when there other web-authoring languages and software that can be used for designing web pages, makes some of the YSG seem outdated. Expanding the glossary would make this site even more useful for learning the basics of web site and web page design. As it stands now, the glossary is quite limited in scope. We hope that the 2nd edition of the Yale Style Guide will address these issues. Finally, the amount of information contained in the web site may seem overwhelming to students who use it for the first time.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This site is an extremely valuable reference for novices to use when learning about concepts relating to the design of web pages and web sites. Anyone thinking of designing their own website or learning to evaluate the quality of websites would find important concepts of basic web design here. The information is comprehensive and could be used as a main text, as a supplemental text, or as a reference text. Students could be tested on this material, asked to apply it to their own projects, or asked to compile a list of bulleted items that summarize the main points offered in each section. Such a summary could then be used to develop a rubric for assessing the quality of the design of web pages or web sites. References located at the end of each section and in the Appendices provide users with ideas about where to look for more in-depth information about the topics covered.
Concerns: None noted.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 5 stars
Strengths: This site is well designed and the authors practice almost everything they preach in the text. Menus are logical and make the structure and the content of this web site obvious. Forward, back, and up icons at the bottom of each screen make navigation with in the site very easy and consistent. Graphics are used mainly as examples and are small enough to make each page easy to load. Text is extensive but limited in width so that users with a small screen will still be able to see the entire page. References are provided at the bottom of each section as well as links to graphic examples shown.
Concerns: Some text sections are quite long. Although the authors may assume that most people will print the text to read off-line, it would be helpful to break up the longer sections. When one goes back to review the multimedia part of the site, error messages come up stating that certain files are already in the download queue. This could prove confusing for some users.