Website Useability

Has anyone ever been frustrated by the organization of a website?  You’re certain that this is where you should be looking for information, but it seems so inaccessible, you just give up and look elsewhere.  Or you found a great website, but when you try to access it on your phone or tablet, it looks so different you can’t find anything you need when you’re on the go?  Chapter 4 of  “The Multimedia Journalist” by Jennifer George-Palilonis describes ways to not only improve your website, but to start off on the right foot.

The navigability and useability (how easy an interface is to use) of a website is key to its success, and the key to success is having a quantifiable goal, or plan.  Developing a strategy for accomplishing the mission of your website before you start will help you stay on track when developing your website.

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The website I observed for this study seemed to follow all of the useability test’s navigational tips we studied in class.  Because it’s about a very complex topic, it must give the readers a lot of background information before convincing their audience to support their cause.  The website was set up in a very linear fashion, so readers are taken through the website in exactly the way the writers intended them to, like a well thought-out lesson plan.  The interactive maps give the reader a very comprehensive visual context of the region, with dialogue boxes that provide more detailed information.  This format ensures the reader grasps all of the information they need in the best possible way to fully comprehend all of the elements that the author wants us to be aware of.

The only real problem I encountered with this website was that the links at the top of the page do not work.  When you click on them, it says you are “Forbidden” to access that page.  However, if you scroll down the page you will see the subheadings listed in that order.  The website avoids using scroll-down bars, excessive links, and layers of navigation.  All of the information is laid out in an intuitive way and allows the reader to observe all available information without navigating away from the main page.   If you’d like to contact the writers, editors, and producers of the website, they are listed at the bottom of the webpage, and are linked to the writer’s personal website.  This took me less than 5 minutes to locate.

When I had my roommate try to navigate the website, she commented that the linear manner in which things were displayed made it easy for her to grasp the overall concepts presented.  Reading left to right, top to bottom, like a normal article, she said she didn’t struggle at all to get all of the information intended without missing integral parts of the story.  She also stated the info graphics were incredibly helpful when the website listed statistics, regions and made comparisons to other countries.  It also didn’t take her long to find where the authors were listed, so our experiences were similar in that.

Three things I would change about this website:

  • The links at the top of the page should work
  • The paragraphs switch from one column to two columns.  I would keep it consistent throughout the page.
  • Perhaps this would be achieved through working links at the top of the page, but I would add a table of content of sorts

Three things I would not change:

  • The pictures are beautiful; they add drama to the site and inspire empathy
  • The info graphics are incredibly helpful in understanding the statistics and putting the numbers into perspective
  • the order that the information is presented in

Overall, I liked the website.  It was very informative, and gave me the opportunity to learn about a topic that I wouldn’t normally seek out.  It was aesthetically pleasing as well as informative.  It appealed to our better nature, while still using statistically significant data.  I hope to be able to emulate the effectiveness of this website in my own writing.

 

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