Usability Institue Logo- A bolt that can be fastened with any of 4 tools
Reducing Training to Its Sensible Minimum: Zero...
Inexpensive, Independent Usability Consulting by Jack Bellis
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Permanent Resources: Tools to Understand and Improve Usability

  June, 2016 Review of Web Hosting Sites
Independent website of curated reviews, including many technology products and services

Looking for the "best of breed" option in a category like "ecommerce software," or "web hosting"? This site seems to put a lot of effort into impartial reviews.

Function Tree
Outline of Software Features that You Shouldn't Reinvent onEvery Project

Start over on every project and you're guaranteed to miss some vital functionality. Help us by sending your own portions and we'll add them.


Design Gallery
Screen Captures of Exemplary Visual Techniques

Learnability Gallery
Screen Capture Library of Techniques to Make Interfaces Self-Training

I recently wrote an expose on the high learnability of This page takes that a step further and creates a repository to catalog all of those techniques to the extent that they are visual. In contrast to "facility," (the other half of usability), learnability is almost always visual. Facility often involves the interaction design or fingers, not eyes, so it's less suitable to graphics.

Software Requirements Levels
What Goes in Each Spec?

Like the weather, everyone talks about documenting good requirements but nobody does (anything about) it. It's a struggle in most organizations to draw a good line between "business requirements" and the many levels that "functional requirements." The real issue is who should do what, and to what level of detail should they go.

Web State of the Art
A Categorical Listing of Models for Web Design, Content, and Navigation (October 2005)

If you're creating a website for a municipality, is creativity a good thing for your visiting or paying stakeholders? Copy Tryeddyfrin township's even if you can't spell it.

User In Your Face
The Student Programmer's Before-and-After Guide to Usability and Usable Interface Design

A book that I'm writing in installments, published on this site, and interactive with visitors in that installments are written when requested... BY YOU!

Declaration of Usability
A One-Page Statement of Unified Goals for the Usability Profession

The subject comes up periodically of having the usability profession "speak with a common voice" but it's hard to figure out what this means. Here's my attempt to answer it. Edit this doctrine yourself and post it near where you work. No copyright.


Website Survival Checklist
33 Vital Signs for Every Website's Health

We evaluate sites using this checklist of 33 straighforward, mostly objective items.

User Experience Affordance Tree
Outline of Usability Goals and their Place in the Big Picture

What's the difference between UE and usability? And where should you put your effort if your sole objective is a friendly site?


Usability Quotes

  1. My interest in usability arose from the pain and tears of patching the wounds of suffering interface designs with the inadequate bandages of help files and user guides." —Daniel Cohen, in a forum comment.
  2. "There is always a tradeoff between the convenience of the programmer and the convenience of the user. " —I've always believed that this was from Peter Norton, but I've never been able to substantiate it.
  3. Bellis's Law: For every computer problem, even hardware problems, there is a corresponding improvement waiting to be done to the design of the software or user interface. It is not your fault... the problem is not user error!
  4. "Usability and learnability are not mutually exclusive. Decide which is the most important; then attack both with vigor." — Tognazzini
  5. "Most users are good at reacting to product designs and notoriously bad at identifying the sources of their reactions."
    — Paul Smith, Human-computer interaction professional, IBM, "Debunking the Myths of UI Design"
  6. "Design is a process - an intimate collaboration between engineers, designers, and clients." — Henry Dreyfuss, Industrial Designer

A Reusable Style Sheet and Design for Web Applications (Obsolete)

It's long overdue that developers stop trying to reproduce the last 14 years of GUI dialog design each time they start a new project. This shareware resource provides a style sheet, icons, table layouts, and page designs that will not only save projects a lot of time and money, but help users by providing common artifacts that cue them in to functionality. It's different than the many templates available for content-centric sites in that it provides the hundreds of design artifacts needed for database presentation issues.

I've labeled this recently as obsolete since so much new web design has occurred since it was created.

Winning the Business Softwar
by Jack Bellis, A Free Booklet on Usability (2000)

Bold tactics to help you get on the winning side of the software revolution and get the productivity you've been expecting. This 46-page print-it-yourself book has straightforward ideas for getting business software to work for you.

Download it now (203K Zip file of a PDF Document)

Computers Stink
by Jack Bellis, A Free Book on Usability (1997)

Winning the Business Softwar is based on ideas in the author's previous book, Computers Stink. Out of print but available online:

Download it now (640K PDF Document) Best option, with bookmarks

Download it now (770K Word Document)

Browse a preliminary online conversion of the book



Free Usability Criteria for RFPs

Put this text right in your Requests for Proposals, no strings attached.


Usability/User Experience Sites

My interest in usability sites is primarily for articles to print out an read at lunch. Munch on these:



Tools that enable developers to see under the hood of a web page, in direct visuals, rather than reading the code:


Pattern Libraries

The web has finally facilitated the collection and publication of design solutions into libraries that you can browse. Here are some I like:


Miscellaneous Javascript

Some key examples of under-the-hood techniques I've found interesting.

Dynamic 100% Window-Size Image  View the source on this file to see how to make a graphic stretch to fill the browser window, such as for a slide show.


Icons  Royalty-free icon set.



World Usability Day 2007, Temple University, November 8, 2007, (2MB PPT)



And While We're at It...

Another book by Jack Bellis: It's Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, RSI Theory & Therapy for Computer Professionals

Just the medicine you're looking for if your arms ache after a hard day at the computer keyboard. Written by a veteran technical writer who suffers from a repetitive strain injury (RSI), and a physical therapist who's specialized in treating such injuries, it offers a new perspective on the problem. When those aches and pains don't go away after a good night's sleep, It's Not Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is where serious RSI sufferers are turning for answers.

Available at
Suparna Damany and Jack Bellis
Published by Simax, Philadelphia, PA
ISBN 0-9655109-9-9



"Most users are good at reacting to product designs and notoriously bad at identifying the sources of their reactions."
— Paul Smith, Human-computer interaction

2002,   All Rights Reserved
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