User-Friendly Challenge

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Each website and article have their own style and each person has a way they look at different websites. One of the things that help people when they look at websites is their usability. Usability is basically how easy is it to use and navigate a specific article on a website. Everyone wants websites to be easy to use and not be sitting there frustrated at their screen. So we put a website to the test. The site that was tested was Council on Foreign Relations, specifically their article called “The Long Fight Over Trade and Medicines.”

As I started to explore this article I noticed that it is simple, clean and straight forward. They have a slideshow with pictures relating to their topic at the top. Some of these images were of protesters, demonstrators, and politicians signing documents or making speeches. All of these images were mainly related to the World Trade Organization. Personally, when I first look at an article I skim to see if something catches my eye and obviously, the slideshow is what I noticed first but as I went down in the article I found a couple hyperlinks to other articles. I liked that when I opened them they were opened in new tabs. I then found the first interactive graph. I started clicking around on it and thought it was pretty cool. Finally, I made it to the bottom where there is an image and then I went back and skimmed some of the actual text that was there, I did like the summaries under the graphs.

I did not really have too many problems with the navigation of this article it was pretty plain and simple. However, on the interactive graphs, I loved that when you put your mouse over the graph at different points it would tell you what that point was, the downside to that was you couldn’t get to some places because they were blocked by the words that popped up. The overall navigation was very simple and easy to get around another thing I noticed on the graph is it was more of a mouse friendly tool not fingers for touch screen. My favorite thing about this website was there were no ads that popped up nor were there any along the sides to distract you from the article.

Trying to find the contact information was more difficult than I thought but it still only took me about two minutes to locate the phone number of the “Publications” department I, however, did not find information on who wrote the article.

I recruited my roommate Belle to look through the same website I did. She took a different approach which I thought would happen since each person is a little different. She went to the first paragraph of text skimmed a little then continued down, I didn’t read anything but the title before scrolling. She slowed a little on the graphs and images but mainly kept scrolling all the way to the bottom not stopping. Once she got to the image at the bottom she stopped, looked at it for a couple seconds and then went all the way back to the top. She looked through each of the slideshow images in detail and read each of the captions that went with them. I skimmed the captions but didn’t pay as much attention to them as I did to the images. Belle then went to the first graph and said, “This is really neat I like that you can change the graphs.” That is pretty similar to my thought about the first graph. She pointed out it was disappointing the first graph was the only one to change. She spent most of her time on the first interactive graph, as did I. Belle never opened a hyperlink which was one of the first things I did. She made the comment, “This site is very simple.”

I’m a pretty competitive person and I’m happy to say that it took Belle longer to find the contact information than it did me by about 30 seconds. She, however, found something that I did not and that is who actually wrote the article in the “credits” at the very bottom in the right-hand corner. I never noticed that.

Three things that were great:

  • Hyperlinks opened in new tabs
  • Simplicity; straight forward and to the point
  • Slideshow at top with easy click through buttons

Three things that could use some work:

  • Graphs; to be used on a touch screen and their ability to look at specific spots
  • Hyperlink in the first sentence; takes you away from the article right away
  • Author’s name listed, as well as contact information being easier to find

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