Information Technology Systems and Services.
ITSS home

Web Design References

Web Design Glossary

U

Universal Access
The idea that all things (on the Internet) should be accessible by the largest audience possible, regardless of disability, location, device, or speed of connection to the Internet. The ability of everyone, regardless of age, nationality, disability, or any other factor, to access and take advantage of a website.
Universal Design
Universal design means designing for the largest audience possible regardless of disability or ability. It is a process rather than an end in itself. Universal design has seven principles:
  1. Equitable Use: The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  2. Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use: Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills or current concentration level.
  4. Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
  5. Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions
  6. Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently, comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use; Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation and use regardless of user's body size, posture or mobility.
Universal Selector
In CSS, a universal selector, is indicated by an asterisk. It is a kind of a wild card. It acts like a type element, except it matches any and every element it can. Therefore, * {color: red;} would turn every element in an entire document red.
Universality
Universality is the effort toward providing equivalent access to the information to everyone, regardless of the methods they use to access it. Universality is about inclusion. It's about ensuring that what you are offering is available to the largest possible audience regardless of the device, platform, network, culture, geographic location, or physical or mental ability/disability. It is also about backward and forward compatibility, about writing one version of a web site (rather than several) that everyone, no matter how old or new their Internet device / OS / computer hardware, will be able to access in some way or other.
Usability
Usability is the art and science of designing systems or products that are effective, efficient, engaging, error tolerant and easy to learn. Usability and accessibility are often confused. Some believe that a usable site is accessible and vice versa. The two are not exclusive, but it is important to understand the difference. Usability means that a Web site is intuitive and easy to use. Accessibility means a Web site is as barrier-free as possible to people with disabilities. Accessibility and usability are closely related, as they both improve satisfaction, effectiveness, and efficiency of the generic user population. But while accessibility is aimed at making the website open to a much wider user population, usability is aimed at making the target population of the website happier, more efficient, more effective.
Usability Lab
A usability lab is a facility specifically for user testing. It can be portable or fixed and may vary widely in how it is equipped. It is usually a quiet room with computer equipment and a place for an observer to sit, along with a special observation area (possibly behind a one-way mirror), and equipment for videotaping. Computers in a usability lab are also often set up with logging software to capture user keystrokes and mouse movements and with scan converters, used to videotape computer screens. For more information consult Labs.
Usability Testing
Usability testing is the process of carrying out experiments to find out specific information about a design. It is part three of the "Usability Evaluation Toolbox". In usability testing, representative users work on typical tasks using the website (or a prototype) and the evaluators use the results to see how the user interface supports the users in doing their tasks. For more information consult Testing.
User Agent
A user agent is software to access Web content. Examples of user agents include desktop graphical browsers, text browsers, voice browsers, mobile phones, multimedia players, plug-ins, and assistive technologies used in conjunction with browsers such as screen readers, screen magnifiers, and voice recognition software. Browsers are a subset of user agents. All browsers are user agents, but not all user agents are browsers.
User Centered Design (UCD)
The design process that places the user at the center of the design rather than the object to be designed. It is a philosophy and process rather than an end in itself.
User Interface Markup Language (UIML)
Unlike many markup languages, UMIL is not used to describe documents, rather it is used to describe elements on the page such as buttons, menu lists, and other page elements generally used in graphical user interfaces. It is used to define their placement on the page, and the actions to be taken when certain events such as mouse clicks, or keystrokes occur.
User Style Sheet
A user can write a style sheet and make it override the browser's default style sheets as well as any styles a designer creates. A user style sheet will override browser/designer styles for that user only. A user style sheet is stored on the user's device. Each browser has it's own instructions for configuring one. User style sheets can help people with special needs, such as low vision. If a user chooses to do so with CSS2, he or she can set rules to be more important than any style rules created by the web page designer with the "!important" operator. If a user's style sheet contains "!important", it takes precedence over any applicable rule in an designer's style sheet.