Blog 2: Critiquing BuzzFeed!

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In my opinion, the BuzzFeed website follows Krugs’ criteria. Clear visual hierarchy. Check. Breaking page into defined areas. Check. Make clickable obvious. Check. Minimize noise. Check, check, check. Unlike Facebook, BuzzFeed does not auto start its videos, which gets it major brownie points in my books. But where the website loses out on is the how you have to scroll and scroll and scroll to get anywhere. The main page should follow the style of the category pages – go back in link-history page by page. It makes things more organized and the viewer is not stuck scrolling forever.

I really appreciate BuzzFeed’s categorical divide. From ‘LOL’ to ‘win’ to the white arrow of trending, the web designer made sure viewers got to where they wanted to quickly (unless the link they’re looking for is days old).

I also like how the little stickers on the top left corner of some stories takes you to more content of the same kind. It feels as if BuzzFeed just wants to help you continue procrastinating. Screen Shot 2014-09-12 at 12.19.14 AM

 

Having said that though, I think BuzzFeed should start organize its main feed better. For example, the stories that are dropped in between by promoters should get their own column (or page). I also think #TBT should be a tag of its own. After, there is one posted under that topic so often, you’d think they would have run out of features. However, this is just nit-picking.

I really think, overall, BuzzFeed has a site that makes losing track of time seem like no big deal.

 

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Blog 2: Website Critique – Vox.com

By Zhao, Hong

Vox.com is a news website launched on April 6, aiming to deliver context alongside news information. The homepage is well laid out. It is divided into different modules. The margin between modules form a fine line. The topic of each module is highlighted in yellow, making it easy to skim and navigate.

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Though it doesn’t have a “Home” button in sight, the logo of “VOX” will lead you to the homepage. However, I don’t consider it a good idea that the webpage transfers to a new story page instead of opening the link in a new tab. Sometimes people want to stay on the homepage and look through more headlines.

The most special part of this website is its card stacks, well designed for usability. They are grouped in a separate module but also can be accessed through highlighted words within articles.

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They are more like news summaries, easy and simple for customers who fail to follow the news but want to know the whole storytelling. Their headlines basically follow the pattern of “Five things you need to know about…” You may not like its superficiality, but it’s direct and engaging.

On the card stacks’ page, it offers a search box on the top for people who know exactly what they want.

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Those card stacks do look like cards. Users can click the arrow key on the top to go to the previous or next card (list of information). Usually the content on the cards isn’t very long, so you can quickly scroll back to the top. Besides, there is a sidebar used as navigation on the left.

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As the website looks different from most traditional news outlets, which usually emphasize a lead story or a piece of breaking news on their website, mirroring the front page of a newspaper, Users might spend some time getting used to the modular layout. What’s more, if users are not familiar with the card stacks, they might have to figure it out by themselves. It’s not self-evident enough but “makes them think.” My suggestion is to make card stacks stand out and put one of the most newsworthy on the homepage.

Blog 2: Website Critique

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I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and look at the website of a newspaper I grew up with: The Newark (Ohio) Advocate. The Advocate is a Gannett newspaper, so all of their sites look somewhat similar (such as USA Today’s site).

The first thing I think when I log on is that the site’s got a clear focal point. My eye is immediately drawn to the centerpiece photo. From there, I looked at the headlines on the left and then the weather widget on the side. The links and information aren’t just listed or thrown up without any clear understanding of what’s the most important, what’s second most important and so on. I do think the homepage is a little noisy. I could have done without the quick links on the left. I understand they’ve probably put that there because it’s what readers want the most when they get to the homepage. But, from a design standpoint, it does clutter up the homepage a bit.

As I scroll down, I start to lose focus. There’s a grouping of stories organized in block form, a scroll of videos, a scroll of photos, more story links, etc. The sections are clearly defined, which is nice, but it took me a second to really get oriented with what was going on.

Another good thing about the homepage — the main navigation on top stays on the page as you scroll. In fact, as you go through the site, the navigation and header doesn’t change. It’s providing you an easy way to return to the homepage, search or go to any other section.

The other pages for news, features, sports, etc. are all designed similar to the homepage. I think that’s a good idea because you have a familiarity with the new page and it’s not like you’re having to suddenly figure out a new way to navigate a page.

One interesting thing that I’ve notice all Gannet sites do is what happens when you click on a story. It doesn’t take you to a new page; it just pops up the story on top of whatever page you’re on. It takes some getting used to because it’s different from other sites. But I like it because you can easily get back to the page you were on by either hitting the back button or just clicking off the story.

Overall, I think the site is pretty easy to navigate. As Steve Krug would say, it doesn’t make me think too much. The pages are a bit too noisy for my taste. I think the tendency for news sites is to put everything out there so nothing gets lost, which makes sense, but at times I think it clutters a site too much.

Blog 2 – Newsy

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This week, we were asked to examine a news site and look at the usability/user experience. I chose to go with Newsy.com, an online aggregate news source, based right out of Columbia, MO. I really like how Newsy’s page is set up. Their menu bar is very clear and it pops out of the page, without distracting the eye too much. That navigation bar stays consistent on every page, but lets the user know where they are by changing that section to a dark blue when they are on a page. They make it easy to return home, by clicking the bright blue “newsy” button.

Furthermore, they do a very good job of breaking the pages up. If you take a look at the homepage, they have the 3 tops stories, then a “trending now” section and then a “latest” section. They even have a social media section off to the right side. Everything is clearly labeled, making the navigation experience that much more seamless. They even make searching easy with a search box, above the fold, that turns orange when clicked on. This search box remains in the same spot on every page, which appeals to a user’s need for habit.

What I really love about the Newsy site, however, is how clean and noiseless it appears. A lot of news sites tend to almost have a visual overload, with a different story at every open space on the screen. Newsy has it set up, so the stories are in a nice 3 by 3 boxed pattern, that doesn’t overwhelm a user.

Overall, I actually think Newsy.com stuck very well to Krug’s criteria, and I don’t think there is much, if anything they need to change about their site. I think it is very well organized, and appealing to a user.