Posts tagged ‘Usability’

May 9, 2010

Website Analysis – Times Online

The content of the World Wide Web is constantly expanding and updating, as a consequence users now have more choice than ever before (Nielson 2000). Therefore, it is vital that professional websites are appropriate for all potential users. In order to do this a website must have effective usability, searchablity, navigation, design, content, video/audio, interactivity and user-generated content. This Website analysis assess Times Online in relation to these factors.

 

Screen shot of the homepage

Navigation

The Times Online logo is consistently placed on each webpage in the same position and hyperlinks to the home page, this is effective as the user is constantly reminded of the name of the site and it provides easy access to the home page. The website has a navigation bar running horizontally across the webpage below the logo, which consists of ten tabs, e.g News, Comment, Business, etc. The user can easily identify which tab they are viewing as the colour of the text appears lime green with a dark grey background when it is being viewed, each tab is also quick to load. The tabs are broken down into categories for example, within “News” there are tabs such as “World news”, “Politics” and “UK news”.

Content

The Times Online uses a vast amount of hypertext, for example the home page is filled with content, with over forty hyperlinks leading to a wide variety of stories. It could be suggested that the home page has too much content and should be more succinct so the user is not overwhelmed. Nielson (2000) also highlights that research shows that reading from computer screens is 25% slower than reading from paper, this emphasises the importance of providing the user with concise text.

Searchablility

The Times Online site proves to have effective searchability, for example it is the first hit when “Times Online” or “Times” is typed into the search engine “Google”. However, it was the seventy fifth entry when “News” was searched in the same search engine. This suggests that the website is only effectively located when the user is specifically looking for the website, whereas if the user was looking for a News website in general it is unlikely that Times Online would be chosen.

Design

The Times Online website has a consistent colour scheme as the colours lime green, blue and grey are used throughout the website. This is a simple way of visually connecting the web pages of the website, without overpowering the user. Kollock (1996) also suggests that online environments should be designed to encourage user co-opertation, maintain a community-based institutional memory and include elements of the physical environment through which users travel. Times Online achieves this effect by using a consistent colour scheme and page layout.

Video

Each story is illustrated by either an image or a video, this creates more depth to the story and gives a visual insight which supports the text. There are also tabs within the navigation titled “videos” and “picture gallery” which enables the user to search and view all the videos/images on the website.

Interactivity/User-generated content

The user has the option to comment on any story, image or video that appears on the Times Online website. Additionally, there is a tab within the navigation bar titled “Comment” which consists of columnists and professionals who express their personal opinions on topical issues, for example John Houghton and Libby Purves. There are also podcasts that are available to download which provides the user with an audio interpretation. It could be argued that the website could have more user-generated content such as personal videos and images in order to create more variety.

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