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Evaluating Websites Usability - comparing 5 websites.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Higher Diploma in Software Development

Web Development – Practical 2

Evaluating Websites Usability

Website 1:  www.lit.ie

First Impressions:

  • URL is Good, Short, and very intuitive.
  • Download time is slow with image slideshow and animations loading at noticeably different times.
  • Home page seems cluttered with image slideshow on top, rolling text, links to videos. Text is readable and has a tool on the top tool bar for changing text size (Although this function only works on some text not all). Simple colours with red and blue being main colours used.
  • Only 40% of home page on one screen, scrolling up/down required.
  • Is obvious that it is home page to a college or learning institute with pictures of recent graduates, Links to college related links i.e. “Study @ Lit “ , “Current Students” etc clearly visible.
  • Moving mouse over key words on top tool bar gives drop down menus of links to all aspects of the Institute.
  • When hovering over the “About” keyword on the top tool bar, the pop down menu clearly details contact details, links to relevant information and presidents welcome note all increasing user confidence in site.

Navigation:

  • Tool bar gives clear choices with drop down menu offering more detailed links
  • Site Map on bottom of webpage offers clear links to all relevant information.
  • Navigational links visible on the top tool bars remain for all LIT pages making it easy to navigate through.
  • An internal search engine is missing only a search engine for finding course is visible.
  • No internal links when reading text.

Content:

  • Content is relevant to the Institute with links to all aspects of college life. With large link to “Online Prospectus” on main homepage.
  • The image slideshow does show some good pictures of the college and recent graduates. All the content on page looks informative with a rolling window of current news relating to the college. When in the college, this page is quick to load but when looking at this page from home all the graphical content takes considerably less time.
  • All content is very up to date with upcoming events with brief description and links in rolling text and below that a calendar with events for current month clearly shown.
  • There is no FAQ’s but the top tool bar presents all information clearly and concisely.
  • Page is chunked quite well. As you scroll down the page different heading can clearly be seen with heading links.

Attractors:

  • No Competitions, Special Offers or Freebies (not really expected on college website).
  • Again News and events clearly shown.
  • Some Good External Links provided Links to “Department of public expenditure and reform”, “The European Social Fund” and “Enterprise Ireland”.
  • There is no links to a newsletter.

Findability:

  • URL is short just being www.lit.ie which is acronym for “Limerick Institute OF Technology”.
  • No Keywords list found in source.
  • Partners and Affiliate websites are not visible on main page.

Making Contact:

  • Contact details are only visible through top tool bar, when cursor is hover5ed over the “About” link a drop down menu appears detailing.
  • Staff Directory
  • Phone
  • Fax
  • Address

Browser Compatibility:

  • Screen shot were taken through browsershots.org in FireFox18.0, Safari 6.0  , and Google chrome 23.0
  • All screen shots remained the same throughout all.

Knowledge of Users:

  • Lit is not an adaptive website when a course is looked up it does not send you to similar courses.
  • Lit keeps no memory of your last visit or any previous visit to highlight content to users.

User Satisfaction:

  • Home page did not crash or has not been off-line.
  • All Links bring you to clear menus where specialised links can be accessed. Very user friendly and easy to read.
  •  Lits main selling point is the offering of courses to would be students. There are links to apply for course through the CAO system or directly to Lit. This is good but does not offer a status report on how the application progressing.

Other Useful Information:

  • In the “About” drop down menu there is good link to “Academic Council”, Freedom of Information”, “Governing Body”, “Report/ Procedures/ Plans” and “Useful links”. These links add to the value of the site to show it is regulated and a legitimate educational Institute website.

Website 2:  www.sixtiespress.ie

First Impressions:

  • URL is long and doesn’t relate to site content
  • Download time was fast as just that no images
  • Homepage seems all over the place with very little site structure and every heading in a different colour with a background of black.
  • Only 40% of homepage visible on screen.
  • Very hard form first impressions to see what this site is offering or informing the user of what content is within.
  • There is a series of mixed links on top of screen none of which give a clear detail as to what information might be received when clicked.

Navigation:

  • Links are sore on the eyes to look at with mad colours, With the bold links to “Home”, “Poetry”, “Featured Articles”, “Reviews”, “Publications”, “E Magazine”, Archives”, “Links”, and “BARRY TEBBS MENTAL HEALTH BLOG SITE”. These links offer no information about what the user is viewing with their content in dreadful colours and hard to read text.
  • There is no Site Map to aid in navigation.
  • Different links bring you to the same content with “Feature Articles” and “Barry Tebb – An Introduction” leading to the same.
  • When reading text there are no internal links.

Content:

  • Content is strange with I have figured out website is for a printing press company. Links bring you to poems, all of which are along the left side of screen with 30% of screen on right hand side empty of content.
  • There is no graphical content to add value to the website with only the mad colour occupying the screen and after a while the user’s nerves.
  • Content seems to be very outdated with the only dated piece of information I can find being a times online excerpt dated January 17, 2007. This can be seen on main home page in centre of screen
  • There is no FAQ’s.
  • Page is chunked extremely badly, being very difficult to see where on topic ends and another begins with the colours different on nearly all text under headings.

Attractors:

  • No Competitions, Special Offers or Freebies.
  • News shown in a centre box but dates are over five years old of the newest entry.
  • When the “Links” link is pressed links page comes up with all links on left hand side of screen. When the “Emlit Project 2003” link is pressed error 404 is given and when link for www.greatworks.org is pressed a new tab is opened and no content is displayed only blank screen.
  • When the “E Magazine” link is pressed up come their “WINTER EDITION 2003” newsletter.

Findability:

  • URL is not very explanatory as with the word sixties in it makes the user think of something relating to that decade.
  • The following keywords were found in source "Sixties Press, UK poetry magazine, Barry Tebb, UK poet, Leeds Poet, Yorkshire Poetry, U.K, Novelist, Poems. Which are quite good and will hit a target audience.
  • The main link “BARRY TEBB'S MENTAL HEALTH BLOG SITE” but has no relation to sixties press
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Middle

Browser Compatibility:

  • Screen shot were taken through browsershots.org in FireFox18.0, Safari 6.0  , and Google chrome 23.0
  • All seem to have the same screenshots.

Knowledge of Users:

  • www.sixtiespress.co.uk is not an adaptive website, it doesn’t have organisation of its own links and articles to manage to record what users interests are.
  • www.sixtiespress.co.uk keeps no memory of your last visit or any previous visit to highlight content to users.

User Satisfaction:

  • Main page did not crash or have any problems loading
  • A lot of the links are repeated bring you to the same page which is frustrating.
  • At the bottom there is a link to a catalogue which when clicked brings up a terribly edited catalogue with titles and prices. There is no buy function; I gather that an email has to be sent to show interest in a certain book.

Other Useful Information:

  • “”© Copyright of all poems remain with the poets.” & “© Photos of Leeds courtesy of Leeds Library and Information Service” is the only useful information I can find on this website.

Website 3:summertomato.com

First Impressions:

  • URL is not very self-explanatory to what the website is about.
  • Download time was fast some as no flashing images are visible.
  • There is a nice feel to this page with the author writing a short 5 sentence statement about herself along with picture.
  • It is very obvious that this page is about healthy eating, there is a picture menu with good pictures of different foods with appropriate headings. Hovering  the cursor on top of these pictures enlarges the photos and form links. But the “Basics”, “Science” and “Tips” links all bring you to the home page.
  • Only about 7% of the home page is visible.

Navigation:

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Conclusion

        Centra offers a good, compact website with a good colour co-ordination which is welcoming and easy on the eye. The tabs in tool bar display a drop down menu which seems a lot simpler that the initial website view. The links bring you to pages in same format as home page and displays a brief report on the selected comment. The links to charities and community sponsorships increase the overall feel of the website.

        Imprint is a very small and straight to the point website which displays relevant information regarding the company’s products. All could have been easily fitted to main page without inserting the scrolling window in the top centre of screen. Contact info is displayed with phone number and clicking on company logos open and outlook window for sending questions. The page was simplistic and gave the user enough information without over informing the user about the products.

        Sixtiespress is a terrible website its colours were annoying and seemed to be done by someone just picked the most random colours. The website offered little information as regards to the company’s ethos. It took me a long time to understand what it was offering. The only way to order book was to email first with your order and you would be sent an email with a PayPal address. The text was terrible and all over to the left hand side of screen.

        Evaluating websites makes you look at different websites grading their content. It is a method that I have never used but often found myself reaching websites and quickly changing site address if there wasn’t a good feel to them. From this exercise I have gained a new insight to the design and display of different sites.

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