Posts Tagged ‘Example of a critique of a website’

Critique of a website: The Times Online

May 8, 2010

 I have critiqued how well The Times Online engages with its users through use of searchability, usability, navigation, design, content and interactivity. The findings of which are as follows:

Searchability

  • – When searching ‘The Times Online’ or ‘The Times’ in popular search engines (Google, MSN search, Yahoo and Ask) the first result is The Times Online with several links to different sections of the website proceeding it, as such it uses its potential search engine optimisation.

Usability

  • – The Times Online is quite simple to get to grips with and easy to use. The hyperlinks work and pages are quick to load which makes for a stable website that works to its advantage as users are likely to return.
  • – Generally, it is easy to find information on The Times Online which fulfils its purpose to inform the reader. However, it was found that there might be slight confusion for users that were using the website to look for holidays. It may be assumed that ‘holidays’ would be located under ‘travel’ in the navigation bar whereas it’s actually located under ‘jobs and classifieds’ leading the user to the ‘travel directory’ but with useful navigation tools, the user will not get lost.

Navigation

  • – There is one main horizontal navigation bar at the top of the page on The Times Online which makes the website simple to use.
  • – It reads left to right which is natural, logical and easy to follow.
  • – There is a secondary horizontal navigation bar at the bottom of the page that repeats the same links as the navigation bar at the top. This allows the user to read to the bottom of the page and be directed to pages without having to scroll back to the top of the page.
  • – The hyperlinks are clearly signposted making it efficient for the user to navigate around the website.
  • – There is a lot of intra-linking which keeps the user contained to the website and creates more hits.
  • – At the top and bottom of every page there’s a “where am I?” hyperlink that tracks the page that the user goes to recording their history which makes it easy for the user to back track and not get lost
  • – There is also a search bar at both the top and bottom of the page which makes it easier for the user to find their desired content.

Design

  • – The layout is simple but effective, there is a white background and a consistent colour theme that matches the logo which looks professional and does not distract from the content.
  • – The main site logo constantly stays at the top left of the page when navigating around the site which makes the website consistent.
  • – There is an advertisement above the main site logo. This could be considered as distracting from the content.  However, as it’s above the logo, at a glance, it’s not noticeable and is separate from the main page.
  • – The homepage is divided into two columns, seperating information.
  • – The left hand column features news stories that have been divided into categories with hyperlinked bold sub-headings. The headings break up information which makes it easy for the user to scan the text and find the latest news stories according to their interests.
  • – In the left hand column, hyperlinked images are used to grab attention and direct users to featured news stories and generally, this is effective.  However, around the website it is found that images have been stretched. This is unimpressive and looks unprofessional.
  • – In contrast to the left hand column, the right hand column is unorganised and cluttered with a mixture of adverts and information. An example of this is that a box containing the popular searches of The Times Online is halfway down the page, below several advertisements which can be confusing to the user and may be better suited at the top to encourage and direct users.

Content

  • – As The Times Online is a News website, visitors have expectations to find the latest information and the content must be kept up-to-date for visitors to return. The Times Online updates the content regularly, so the users know that they are getting the latest information this is a reason for its popularity.
  • – The stories on The Times Online are arranged in order of importance which makes the information easily accessible and suits the websites purpose.
  • – The Times Online has the right amount of information for the user to feel informed without overload.
  • – The Times Online also features some UGC* in which users are invited to submit and publish reviews. These can be found in the entertainment section, this is unique information that visitors cannot read elsewhere which also offers users a sense of importance, believing that what they say matters.

Interactivity

  • – The use of video on The Times Online offers visual stimulation and breaks up text to make a story more interesting.
  • – On The Times Online users have the option to sign up to the website where they are able to create a profile. Once a member, users have access to a range of interactive features including: competitions, games and puzzles, polls and the ability to comment on news articles which is successful in building a community and encourages users to return.

*User Generated Content

This critique was heavily influenced by the work of Jakob Nielsen.

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