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Usability Standards and Guidelines


Our Standards

Leicester City Council requires that any application supplied must be as usable as possible for the end user or system administrators. Any usability issues found by Leicester City Council through acceptance testing phases, must be addressed by the supplier.


Usability of a application directly affects key metrics for customer take up, retention and quality of service delivery.


Whilst there is no specific industry standard for usability, Leicester City Council will test the application against a set of usability heuristics by an expert reviewer, as well conducting lab based sessions with end users when possible.


Follow the guidelines set out below to ensure you application is usable.



  • Include clear labels and instructions around user inputs

  • Avoid loss of entered data in web applications, when a users session timeouts or encounters an error.

  • Allow the user to confirm and/or change critical actions (e.g. before deleting an item)

  • Allow users to easily reverse an action until it becomes irreversible. (e.g. gracefully abandon an order)

  • Ensure context sensitive help is available (e.g. tool tips, context sensitive help icons, timely hints and tip shown alongside)

  • Warn the user when links will open a new window or tab

  • Ensure any search boxes are able to accept and process a wide variety of search contexts (e.g. a phonebook search box, should be able to identify between the following inputs, but process them as the same input - Mr Joe Bloggs, Joe, Bloggs, J Bloggs, Joe Bloggs)

  • Ensure all links and buttons route successfully to their targets (e.g. broken links, buttons missing or incorrect trigger actions)

  • Ensure all text is spelt correctly and uses the correct grammar

  • Focus the cursor on the first input

  • Ensure any text is readable, using plain English, short sentences and bullet points)

  • Ensure inputs from the user are suitably validated

  • Clearly mark mandatory inputs to the user

  • Break down complex actions into smaller steps (e.g. Wizards, multi page forms etc)

  • Ensure navigation is consistent

  • Ensure the main call to action is displayed in a prominent area and stands out

  • Ensure reset buttons from HTML forms are removed

  • Ensure progress indicators are displayed for operations that may take a significant period of time (e.g. a progress bar indicator for file uploads)

  • Warn users if an action will trigger the download of a file and if so, the size of the file (e.g. PDF files)

  • Ensure a sufficient length of session timeouts is specified in the application configuration to allow users plenty of time to complete an action, including pausing the task (e.g. leaving enough time

  • Use email confirmations as a secondary confirmation to users that submissions have successfully been accepted.

  • Place a consistent link back to the main homepage or appropriate starting steps (e.g. logos and site names link back to the homepage)

  • 404 error pages should also be branded correctly and offer advice on remedial action

  • Ensure bold, italic or block capitals are used sparingly

  • Avoid the use of underlined text

  • Error pages should be branded correctly and offer advice on remedial action

  • Ensure relevant contact details can be found on all pages (including error pages)


Version History

Version: 1.0

Date: 11/11/11

Change: First draft

Author: Yasin Jassat