My assignment was to evaluate the navigation and usability of the website entitled “Coal: A Love Story.” Below are my thoughts on the site, and also the experiences of my roommate who also navigated the site.
My initial thought when the site opened was that the website looked nice. The design is fairly clean, and there are some creative and artistic graphics that are easy to look at and understand.
The way I explored the site was pretty straightforward. I clicked on the first link, and that link opened up a short video about coal in a new window. When the video was done, an arrow came down the center of the pop-up window that pointed to a “next” button, so I clicked that. That linked opened up another video that was linked underneath the first video. So the flow was nice and it took me all the way down to the bottom of the page.
My biggest issue with the site was that I could not easily discern where the navigation bar was. It turned out a film reel-esque graphic on the top left of the page was clickable so that the user could navigate between videos in a non-chronological order. That took me awhile to figure out. But other than that, I found the usability of the site to be fairly good.
I found it a little difficult to get actual contact information on the website for the creators/producers of the content on the site. I clicked one link that took me to the creators own webpage that was a separate entity than the “Coal: A Love Story” site, but even there I struggled to find definite contact information. The primary website had links to the News 21 Twitter page and other social media sites, but I could not find email addresses, phone numbers or anything else along those lines with ease.
My Roommate’s Evaluation
My roommates experience was pretty much the same except for one major thing. He too thought the site was visually appealing, and not overwhelming. But the first thing he did was click on the navigational bar to jump ahead to a different video, rather than clicking the first link. I asked how he knew that the film reel graphic was a nav bar, and he responded by saying it was pretty obvious. I am still stunned at that, and am still convinced that he had been to this sight before (he is a petroleum engineer major). He denies that claim completely, so I have to take him at his word.
He did also take issue to the fact that the sight was completely visual without much supporting text, and also that the website was almost entirely grey and black. He had an even harder time than me at finding contact information, using only the “Coal: A Love Story” website to find the contact information, whereas I visited the News 21 website to try and find more information.
He said that Mozilla Firefox provided him with a better navigational experience, however I did not see much of a difference between that and Google Chrome. But he prefers Firefox and I prefer Chrome, so I am sure that is part of it.
In closing, the three things that I thought the sight did well were:
- The navigation was simple, and the flow was smooth throughout. Overall usability was a positive.
- It integrated multimedia into the sight well, given that the sight was almost entirely visual.
- The navigation bar (once I found) was in a consistent place that scrolled down the entire site.
But, the things the site needs to improve are:
- Make the navigation bar much more visible!
- Also, the navigational bar at the side was too integrated into the graphics. I would have used a more standard nav bar across the top, even though it might be simpler.
- And finally, I would have liked a little more contrast in color scheme. The dark colors, while effective because the website was dealing with coal, could have been offset a little more effectively with some warm colors. (Maybe that would have aided my quest for contact information… or maybe I am just being a bit cynical now…)