Universal Usability statements: Marking the trail for all users

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Signposts at ski areas help skiers to choose slopes that match their skills and equipment. They describe easy, intermediate and expert trails, indicate which ones are groomed, and give their length or vertical drop. Skiers use this
information to make informed decisions, avoiding routes that may be too difficult or too long. They may choose different skis or waxes depending on the conditions.

For web surfers, good guidance and safe visits are still too rare. Despite extensive research and improved products, the primary experience of many users is frustration and anxiety. Common problems include long download times, incompatible browser versions, and unavailable plug-ins. Too often users find that their screen size does not match the designer's screen size, needed fonts are not installed, or media players just don't work on their machine. These problems are troubling to experienced users as well as novices and even more problematic to users with disabilities.

However, web site designers can take immediate measures to help web surfers find safe trails and have more successful web experiences. Just as park rangers provide information that describes the terrain and the obstacles that may be
lurking around the corner, web site designers can provide web versions of this information. When it becomes apparent that too many trails are marked as 'extremely difficult', thoughtful park rangers will recognize the need to cut some more 'moderate' and 'easy' trails to enable more visitors to enjoy the scenery. (UMIACS-TR-2001-84) (HCIL-TR-2001-02)