Usability and user experience are things I always want to talk about when it comes to website design.
It’s tough for modern, fast-paced, fully-digitized people to live a day without website surfing. Nobody wants to spend 5 minutes figuring how to navigate himself on a site and what exactly info he is looking at. Any confusion could be disastrous to a web’s subscription. It’s especially difficulty for news org to come up a user friendly website which has to contains all the information and insure every visitor is able to locate himself and find the desirable news with minimum effort. Without question, the Guardian helped the Brits to get on the podium again. The page design and set up are from the Guardian are by far the best I have ever seen in any news website. And it’s the usability and user experience that made the Guardian website gold. Every time I set myself on any Guardian’s page, it neither makes me ponder nor takes away my precious time, never. The whole site text-book like follows Krug’s criteria. The best is definitely how the divide up the section: its three-column hierarchy is very easy to distinguish. We normally read from left to right, which explains the reason Guardian puts all essential news on the left column, while feature stories in the middle and the miscellaneous to the right. Then they fully take advantage of color and white space, making the normally cluttered news page super easy to navigate.
In contrast, our local Columbia Missourian is still living in 2010. JUST LOOK AT ITS LANDING PAGE.
There are technically THREE top menu bars, which is absolutely mind-blowing to me. When you hovers under the menu bar located right down the logo, it brings you even more choice. Not to mention the tiny text and cheap-looking fonts from these menu bars. The top picture sliding bar looks horrible to me and when I hover my mouse on it, guess what, more text!
The whole front landing page of Missourian is very hard to make viewer focus. What usually grabs people’s attention is bright color and picture. I jumped into the page and immediately I started to staring at the feature story’s picture on the bottom and it took me quite a while to read all the text and realized “no that’s not something i was looking for.” Sections are ok-ly located on the left column with red bold text to distinguish from each other, a good decision. But a bad decision for having text only. It’s just painful to look at or try to search the valuable info. The whole left column gives me a feeling that i’m looking at some kind of data base, thanks to the help by the time they added next to each news title.
I cannot believe that all the big names from Columbia Missourian(also from our J-school) are able to bare such miserable web design. I highly recommend people who in charge web development take a close look at the Guardian’s approach in terms of color balance, menu bar design, picture vs text balance and hierarchy. Please.