Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Tamara Shopsin

A message to Readers: I guess all I wanted to say before my last (10th) blog post was that I have really enjoyed this assignment. I have learned about so many new and interesting web sites by reading my class mates' blogs. Today's post is about an artist in New York, Tamara Shopsin, her work can be found in the NYTimes regularly and she has many other interesting projects, products and websites. I chose this website becaue it is a little different from any other portfolio website I've seen.

http://tamarashopsin.com/



Intended Audience:

Those interested in Tamara Shopsin's work, people reading the NYtimes articles on-line that are accompanied by Tamara's work. Also, people interested in hiring TS for design, illustration, animation ect.



Usefulness of the Content:
The content on this website is designed to give the intended audience a idea of the breadth of TS's work. There is a reasonable amount of content on this website. The content is almost exclusively visual. Since Tamara's primary work (at least from what I can see) is illustration so her images are able to stand on their own with out explanatory text. The content is useful in so far as it is a visual indication of the profundity of TS's creation.



Ease of Navigation:
This website employs navigation tools that may be unfamiliar to some/many users. The Website is a single frame site meaning you never navigate away from the home page to another internal page within the site because there are no other internal pages. There are three viewing areas oriented horizontally on the screen. The middle area is a viewing area that loads images that are selected by clicking in the two side viewing areas. Each of the three is controlled by a horizontal scroll bar. Generally horizontal scrolling is discouraged is websites probably because of the design of the computer mouse has hard coded human behavior. Like I mentioned earlier this can be unintuitive.



Consistency of Design:
I am a huge fan of the design choices made to create this web page. The at once "new old"
feeling is carried through the other websites associated with TS's work namely her e-commerce site. Since there is only one page to this web site (a frame site) design is consistent from papge to page.

10TH Post: Express Fashion.com

Intended Audience:

* People who wear fashionable clothes
* Middle income
* People who like to plan before they go to the mall

Usefulness of Content:

Very Useful:
* Sections for him and her
* For Her section offers: tops, shirts, hoodies, sweaters, jackets, etc...
* For Him section offers: graphic tees, rugby and crew necks, jackets, jeans, etc..
*Tells you the department, color code, class, and style of clothing pieces, and lets you find a store that carries the piece

Ease of Navigation:

Very Easy to navigation
* Can find whats new, for him, for her, gift card and credit card sections at top of the page, along with my wishlist, find a store, and e-mail sign up
* Local navigation for each section on the left
*More links at the bottom about careers, contact, fashion dellivery, terms and conditions, etc...

Consistency of Design:

Very Consistent
*Black background
*White font
*High fashion photos
*Products on white background
*Navigation is always in the same spot - global at top; local at left

expedia.com

Intended Audience:

Anyone who owns a credit card with an available balance.

Usefulness of Content:
Comparison rates and ability to make reservations for:
  • Flights
  • Hotels
  • Car Rentals
  • Vacation Packages
  • Cruises
  • Tourist Activities
  • Business Travel
You can access information on special deals if you don't have a specific location in mind, or check out global maps.
Consistency of Design:
The design is visually and technically consistent throughout. Each page closely resembles one another so that you do not have to relearn how to use the interface every time you need a different service.

Ease of Navigation:

The interface is very easy to use. It is always my first stop when making travel plans. Left hand section allows you to plug in your dates without having to weed through a lot of information. The tabs are well labeled and self-explanatory allowing you to easily navigate to your area of interest.

Ann Arbor District Library Catalog

http://www.aadl.org/catalog

Intended Audience:
Ann Arbor District community members who wish to search the library's holding via their OPAC.

Usefulness of Content: This library catalog is called a “SOPAC” otherwise known as a “social OPAC”. It was developed by John Blyberg and consists of social software built into the AADL catalog. Once signed in to their account patrons can rate, review, comment-on, and tag items. The content behind the interface is a library's holdings so the content of said web site is dependent on each library patron.

Consistency of Design:
The site makes use of navigation bars and lists well and spreads the information out. This site uses Drupal which is an open source content management system to put a new interface on the legacy catalog.

Ease of Navigation:
The left and top navigation bars allow for an ease of use. Really once you are in the catalog though you mostly use the drop down menu boxes to navigate through the system's collection. The right column are tags which have been added by patrons to materials in the catalog. You can also browse the system by different facets, new items, hot items, and by media. The only thing I am confused about is content below the search boxes, it looks like user contribution posts but I do not know where these are inputting. I am assuming that once a user logs in under their account they have more interactive options than a visitor.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Discovery Channel

http://dsc.discovery.com/

Intended Audience

The target audience of this site is anyone interested in the Discovery Channel's TV shows and programs. The site is fairly bandwidth intensive, so it's best accessed via a broadband internet connection.

Usefulness of Content

The content of this web site is quite useful. It includes TV schedules and content related to its programs, including individual sites for certain shows, games, full episodes, unaired footage, and more. It also contains information about things other than its TV shows. For instance, it has news on various topics including: science, animals, history, archaeology, tech, space, and several others.

Consistency of Design

The design of this web site is somewhat consistent. Most of the major sections of the site have the same design and layout. However, the specific pages for the TV shows each have a custom design related to the show, and the video section also has a significantly different design that the rest of the site.

Ease of Navigation

This site is generally easy to navigate. It has a consistent navigation bar at the top that gives easy access to the major sections of the web site. One annoying navigation issue is that the logo on the navigation bar, which also serves as the link to the home page, opens a new tab in my browser instead of just returning to the home page.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The History Channel

www.history.com

Intended audience:
Anyone seeking information on any of The History Channel’s programs; teachers looking for resources to use in their classrooms; individuals searching for mainstream videos of historical events.

Usefulness of content: Anything you would need to know about any of The History Channel’s television shows or movies can be found here. You can watch clips of the shows, view the schedule, or join a discussion group. I’m not sure how useful any of that really is, but that’s what the site is here for.

Consistency of design: The History Channel logo is featured every page. The links at the top of the page and the search bar are also consistently featured, but they’re not always styled the same way, which is a little disorienting. Also, the homepage is clunky. I like the videos, but there are too many on the homepage.

Ease of navigation: It’s easy enough to find information about a show or a video clip, but the site could be designed better. The link categories aren’t organized very well, so it’s not always clear where to look to find certain information. The search bar helps, though, and it’s easy to get back to the homepage from wherever you are.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

SIRA.org

Southern Indiana Real Estate Services

Audience:
Those in the market for RealEstate in Southern Indiana

Usefulness of Content:

Quite usefull; if the user can get past the poor design elements, the site appears to hold a good variety of real estate and associated regional info of concern to most purchasers, i.e.: schools; community info; other public buildings; etc.

Ease of Navigation:

It's rather interesting since the site uses the Metaphor style. They have a picture of a small city and you hover over things in the city that associate with your interest. The problem is that items in the picture are neither labeled, nor is it obvious which objects are clickable and which are not. Fortunately, they did choose to have a navigation bar as a backup, the only notable thing is that they put it at the bottom of the page rather than the top.




Additionally, they instituted almost no Accessability into the page. The text links are good because they do adjust in size, but there are no alt tags for blind users, and judging by the Navigation area code it would be reading the user a lot of garbage like brackets and such.




Consistency of Design:
Mediocre. There is one other page that uses a similar metaphor-style. Then most other pages use a consistant, though shotty-format. The org logo is so large that it takes up more than half the browser space and you have to scroll down on every page. The last page has a design all-its-own with yellow on white - yuck! It looks very amateur. They did well about including the following at the bottom of all pages, except the Homepage...of all places to leave out the Contact us, that would not be my choice: Home Site Policies Help Contact Us

Overall, it looks like it has good information, it just displays it very poorly; and for whomevers-sake, shrink the logo!


Catalog Choice

Catalogchoice.org

Intended Audience

Anyone wanting to cancel catalogs they receive in the mail (either in their name or someone else's). Also, companies that want to avoid sending catalogs to people who just throw them out.


Usefulness of Content

I have to say that it has been quite a while since I found a site I was happy to see that someone had made and hoped for its success. The site has environmental information on how canceling catalogs saves trees/landfill/etc. It has a simple to use interface for subscribing (you will receive an email with a link to confirm). Your account is tied to a mailing address and you can list any names that receive catalogs at the location. They handle contacting the company that the catalog is from asking them to remove the name/address that you listed. Their list of catalogs is amazingly complete. In a month of entering catalogs I have found only 2 out of 70 that I entered were not in their database.

The site is sponsored/run by several environmental organizations and has a way for catalog companies to get involved and has several major catalogs merchants signed up - the site allows merchants to login and get the cancelation requests rather than have to get hundreds of emails which by law they have process.

There is no advertising on the site.

Consistency of Design

Very simple site. Limited number of pages with a simple consistent navigation. Login/Logout at top right corner, menu on left, link for Merchants/blog/contact info at bottom. Simple easy on the eyes green/white colors (I'm guessing green for environment...)

Ease of Navigation

Very simple, easy to use. The actual catalog cancelation application allows you to search for a catalog by typing (it dynamically shortens the list of catalogs as you type) or by looking in an alphabetized catalog. You can also quickly see the list of catalogs you have declined sorted by name the catalog was sent to - each entry has links to modify your request, let them know that you are still getting it and a link to the catalog vendors website. When you actually enter the application to cancel a catalog you can enter a new name if the one that is on the catalog is not one that you have entered before. The list of names you have entered is available in a pull-down menu. While in the application you are in a new "window" in the forefront with the site behind it grayed out and inaccessible. Overall, a very nice job.

9th Post: Davids Bridal

Intended Audience:

* Mainly brides looking for a wedding dress or for accessories such as invitations and gifts
* People involved in a bridal party might look here as well
* People looking for something to wear for a special occasion

Usefulness of Content:
* Very useful
- This site has all kinds of items for weddings, including: wedding dresses, bridesmaids gowns, flower girl gowns, mother of the bride dresses, veils, gloves, ribbons, sashes, gifts, and accessories for reception and ceremony
- The site provides pictures for each item, and if there are color options you can click on the color and make the dress change
- You can also register online, order a catalog, view video galleries, and request an appointment at a physical location

Consistency of design:
* Very consistent
- Global navigation on the top
- Local navigation on left
- Main content is in the middle
- Background is white
- Lots of pictures in any section
- Logo is always in the top left

Ease of Navigation
* Easy to navigate
- Clear labeling; you know what you can find in that section
- Global navigation is broken up intuitively into things a bride might be looking for
- Local navigation is labeled clearly and uses color shades to break up categories
- Can easily find search
- Can easily see where to search for a specific location

PBS Kids

PBS Kids

Intended Audience

Kids online between the ages of 2 to 8. The site is also designed for teachers and parents that promote e-learning for kids. The kids are expected to have watched some or all the programs intended for them.


Usefulness of Content

The content on the site is very interactive. It not only builds a stronger relationship between the child and the shows/PBS but also gives them more opportunities to learn in a more engaging way. The content is fun (games, stories, video clips, etc.) as well as educational (fill in the blank, spelling tasks, voice over of words, dictionary available, etc.). The kids can also print out the material (ex. coloring pages, book markers, and posters) so that they can physically interact with it.

Consistency of Design

The design of the PBS kids website is not consistent for all programs. The only things consistent are: the PBS Kids logo and the parents and teachers navigation tab. The rest is intended to give a new experience to the viewer.

Ease of Navigation

There was inconsistency with ease of navigation throughout the website. On some shows like WordGirl, the navigation was wonderful. Images opened up fast and there was fluidity to the page. In other shows like Mister Rogers Neighborhood, images would not pop up as fast and it was difficult therefore it was difficult to navigate through. All pages seemed to be above the fold. Finally, there was a search option available on the main page but not on the individual shows which may make it confusing for a young child to find what they are looking for.

csun.edu (California State University, Northridge)

1) your best guess at intended audience;
  • High school students deciding on their college route
  • Community college students looking to transfer into a university
  • Current CSUN students
  • Prospective graduate students
  • Locals wanting to attend campus events
  • Prospective employees
  • Current employees
  • Alumni

2) usefulness of content;

The first link about CSUN is perfect for prospective students. The most helpful link is academic programs, which leads you to the school/college that you would be working in and allows you to find info. on the application process, the program requirements, faculty and all the pertinent info when you're deciding between programs. I like that at the top of the page there is a link that lists exactly what B.A., M.A. and PhD programs the school offers. I like that the portal to sign in is right at the top of the page (it didn't use to be that easy to find).


3) consistency of design;

Some of the links are not consistent with the campuses main page. For instance, just clicking on academic departments in the center of the page takes you a differently designed page. It's not too distracting though, and it is not the case with all the links. Those pages with different designs are still fairly intuitive

4) ease of navigation

The design is simple enough, and pleasant enough, and the headers stand out enough, that even though the website is conveying a lot of knowledge, it is still pretty easy to navigate. There are lots of routes to get to the same page as well, which is always helpful.

P.S. I'm not so sure about the close up of the woman across the top of the home page, I can articulate why, but it's a bit silly. I think they should change that to a more professional look.

GameSpot

http://www.gamespot.com

Intended Audience

The target audience of this website is people who play video games. It has sections for all the major game platforms currently in use such as: PC, Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and 2, the Wii, and a few others.

Usefulness of Content

The content of this site is useful to those interested in playing or purchasing video games. It contains reviews and ratings of games, previews of upcoming games, walkthroughs, hints, cheats, images, forums, and more. As such, this site can be used in such various ways as helping someone beat the game he/she is playing or helping a potential gift-giver find out which games are good.

Consistency of Design

The design of this site is fairly consistent throughout. It has different color schemes for the different video game platforms. However, the navigation bar at the top is only somewhat consistent. It is consistent while on the main pages of each section. For example, the navigation bar on the "Reviews" page in the Xbox 360 section and the "Previews" page in the PC section is the same. However, when you select a particular review or preview, the layout of the navigation bar changes slightly. A general design issue this site tends to have is that its pages, especially the main pages for each section and the home page, have a cluttered look to them.

Ease of Navigation

This website is fairly easy to navigate. It has tabs corresponding to the different sections for the different video game platforms, and links to the different areas of content, such as "Reviews" below. Overall, I find it easy to get where I want to go on this site.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

House M.D. Fansite

http://house.strange-emotions.org/

This is a fan website for the television show “House M.D.”. In an attempt to avoid school work I’ve recently started watching House, starting with the first season.

Intended Audience: For dedicated fans of the show, maybe even for people who are mildly interested in learning more about the show. It doesn't look like it gets an enormous amount of traffic, a little under 1800 members. Is that a lot in internet land?

Usefulness of Content: I’d rate the content an 8 on a scale of 1-10. It doesn’t appear to be very up to date seeing as the show is in the 4th season and I don’t see much mentioned on this new season. The information about past seasons as well as information about the cast is very in depth though.

Consistency of Design: I enjoy the design of this web site perhaps because it employs the use of three columns as well as a horizontal column in the header which remains the same throughout the website. The only complaint about the header is that it is a bit too big and takes up a lot of space on my laptop screen. The colors are complimentary and the content is broken into manageable chunks, i.e. there isn’t too much verbiage. Maybe I have the attention span of a 3 year old because I am always congratulating sites which break information up.

Ease of Navigation: I could navigate through the site pretty easily. There are several menus on each page which remain the same as you visit different parts of the site. The site provides a search box which might prove to be useful.

Side Note: I was *this* close to writing about http://www.hughlaurie.net/ but I’m not that big of a fan… yet.

Paula Deen

http://www.pauladeen.com/

Intended Audience:
  • Fans of Paula Deen's Cooking, her restaurant, Food Network, and/or Southern-style cooking
  • People looking for a recipe
Usefulness of Content:
  • Not absolutely necessary for anyone
  • Useful if one likes to cook and try new recipes-don't have to go out and buy a cookbook
  • Useful if someone likes Paula Deen and would like to meet her or buy something with her brand on it

Consistency of Design:
  • Four tabs across the top-two of them display one picture of Paula Deen in the header and one set of tabs down the left column and two of them display a different picture of her and a different set of tabs down the left and differnet outline of page
  • So it is a little inconsistent but within those top tabs the design is consistent whereever you navigate
  • Background color outside of page remains consistent throughout
Ease of Navigation:
  • Fairly easy-tabs are easily readable and easily interpreted
  • However because the tabs down the left side do not remain consistent sometimes you have to backtrack in order to go somewhere else within the site-this could be changed to make navigation easier
  • Website pages are mainly kept within the context of the moniter screen-not a lot of scrolling is needed-tabs also kept within the context of the moniter screen

Oprah.com

Ophra Winfrey



Target Audience: Those interested in celebrities, reality shows, cosmetic technique, fashion intrigue, relationship improvement, self-introspect, food, Oprah BookClub, etc. The site is more favored by women in general. Deals with lots of issues and interests regarding women.

Usefulness of Content: The site offers lots of miscellaneous info on life in a broader sense. It covers from diet/food to societal change and improvement or issues/problems. This site provides down-to-earth, practical interests across all walks in life. If you're interested in diagnosing your relationship or you who you are, there are some links that direct you to another site that discusses the specific topic at hand: for example, "Are women better off alone? Marriage is no magic bullet for happiness, some say." Well, this is a disputable topic but an interesting read if you've got enough time.

Consistency of Design: The home page opens up a bit clustered with images and with no obvious site map that offers a bird-eye view of the overall components of the site. Clicking "thought for today," it directed me to the site map page with some content related to the link that I clicked; this page titled "Spirit and Self" does not look the same as the home page: Less clustered images, and more clear-cut look with all the major links on the left-side column and the content in the middle of the page. On that same page, if you click other major categories like Food and Home, it will consistently show the same layout. The color scheme follows the same as the home page: Prevalent colors are reddish orange throughout; major links are reddish/content links are greenish/bluish. Except the home page that I encountered, I would say the site is fairly consistent.

Ease of Navigation: Easy enough to browse and read. The site accommodates the search engine. If you are familiar enough with the content of the Oprah site, you can search whatever you like, pertaining to the topics the site tends to handle.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Nada Surf

http://www.nadasurf.com/

Intended audience

This is a Web site for a band from New York named Nada Surf so its intended audiences are listeners and fans of the band.

Usefulness of content

The site includes information such as video, contact, message board, songs from each album, tickets and concerts, press, but there is no information at all about the band. There is no band's biography or at least information of the band's members.

Consistency of design

The site's design is based on the graphic on their latest album's cover which is an image of buildings' front. To enter the site or go to different places in the site, you will have to move your mouse across the buildings' front and a small pop-up message will show up from different windows on the buildings. Inside the site, this same mechanism is also at work in that as soon as you enter the site, a new graphic of buildings comes up and on these buildings are signs that you can click on to access different pages on the site. At this point, I think the design is very consistent, however, after you click on each items to go to each page, that's where the inconsistency starts. Some links open up pages that are still within in this site so the design is still consistent with the main page but other pages lead to new windows from their record company, their fan's site to what I presume to be an old version of their site. All these pages are really inconsistent with each other and most of the links in this site end up open up new windows with different design from different sites.

Ease of navigation
The navigation on this site is really confusing. Starting from the home page, apart from having a link to enter the site, there is also a link to listen to songs and watch videos, as well as a pop-up list of songs in their new album which you cannot click on, as well as a link to their MySpace page and a link to the UK version of their site. I don't know why all these things, except from the link to the UK version, should be outside the site and not inside. When I entered the site, the main graphic page comes up with the menu but after I clicked on any of the links on the menu, that main home page is disappear forever. There is no link to go back to the home page. I was instead stuck with the page that I clicked on and the only way to navigate is through clicking at the menu on the top of the page. Another issue is that the links on the menu bar lead to so many different places. The Store and Press links lead to new windows in the record company's site while the Music link opens up another window that looked like their old site, Message Board leads to, again, another window and the Tickets link leads to a fan's site which has nothing to do with tickets at all. So as you can see, this site, even though has a good creative concept of making use of its album graphic, is actually a really bad site to navigate through. In the end, I ended up having to close so many 5 other windows from clicking on the links on the menu bar.

SAM - Portable Storage



Intended Audience:
Movers! Perhaps more likely the transient community or those who are moving on a consistent basis; given the ability to hold onto the container if so desired.


Usefulness of Content:
Good Content. The site caters to its niche market and requests and gives the necessary information in order to deduce user necessities.
Although they do throw a handfull of dirt in your eyes on the first page (see pic) Info-Overload.
And - I know why I'm there and what the product does, I do not think a MOVIE on the first page is necessary.

Ease of Navigation:
Simple - Nav options are on the left (standard). Though if you goto the "Reserve" page you'll need to bust-out the trusty Back Arrow or click the logo for the Mainpage, because your navigation menu goes Missing.

Consistency of Design:
WIth the exception of the aforementioned RESERVE page it's rather consistent. I do not like the slight variation with the mainpage. They mainpage layout/nav area vary from the subpages. It also looks rather amateur. There first couple times i loaded a couple of the pages, not all of the CSS came through and it left black text on a very dark red background which was hard to read. It swapped to a grey background on Reload, but it was still a poor first impression.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Wellstyled.com


This website, http://wellstyled.com, is focused on providing tools for web designers who use CSS, javascript, and XHTML. It is a bilingual site, offering articles and guidelines in English and Czech, the author's native tongue. Visitors can browse the articles and tools. One very useful tool that I found is the color scheme generator. It makes suggestions for color combinations.

Intended Audience

The audience for this site consists of web developers of varying levels. It would be useful for anyone interested in CSS or someone who is working with CSS or XHTML.

Usefulness of Content

The content serves its purpose very well. The articles are easy to read and relatively easy to follow if you want to implement the hack yourself. You have to be willing to try out the suggestions to make them useful. They won't do much good if you just read about different capabilities, you must give them a whirl.

Consistency of Design

The site is consistent. Each page uses similar colors and design elements like lines and fonts.

Navigation

Navigation is pretty simple. You can always get to the tool and article lists from the top toolbar. And for each article, the alternate text in the other language is in a light shade to the side of the main text. One click, and they change places and the text enlarges and becomes bolder.

Pretty cool overall. This site was recommended to me and I wanted to recommend it to everyone else in time for the projects to be finished.

The Journal of Cell Biology

www.jcb.org

Intended audience: Scientists, doctors, med students, and anyone else with a solid grasp of the subject of cell biology; librarians who work for institutions that currently subscribe to or are considering subscribing to this journal.

Usefulness of content: For anyone who can understand the content on this site, it is endlessly useful. This site has all the latest info in the field of cell biology, as well as fully accessible archives (you have to subscribe to the journal to access the newest content). There’s also information about how to subscribe and instructions for authors who are considering submitting a manuscript to the journal.

Consistency of design: The design is boring but consistent. Every page has the same coloring and the same font, and the gray bar appears at the top of every page. The layout of the articles is also consistent.

Ease of navigation: The site is very simple to navigate. The gray navigation bar at the top of every page directs you to all of the major pages. The homepage is bland, but the layout is clean. All the links on the right side are clearly worded and easily accessible, and all of the information you would need can be found by clicking on one of those links.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Take Away Shows/Concert a Importer

Intended Audience: "Take Away Shows" is an online video archive of sorts, made up of clips of bands playing in odd places in and around Paris (for the most part!). The bands fall on the relatively unknown/indie side of the music spectrum for the most part, but several of the semi-popular are also features (Of Montreal, Okkervil River, etc.) It is a unique idea, and seeing someone like Andrew Bird play a song while walking down a crowded street is somewhat magical in a way.

So music nerds are the intended audience, is what I'm trying to say. Them and the French (making me two for two!).

Usefulness of Content: Like most of the sites I've chosen for this assignment, mostly entertainment value (am I getting the most out of the Internet? Perhaps not...) The videos are presented in multiple formats and sizes, some specifically made for ipods/other video enabled mp3 players. So that's helpful!

Consistency of Design: Very simple. Plain black background, with bands listed in order of performance. The thumbnail image of each band leads to the streaming videos, with the downloadable versions located on the right side of the screen. Once you figure it out, you don't have to relearn it. Very nice!

Ease of Use: As the site grows, it has become somewhat harder and harder to navigate, since they're still keeping all the videos on one page. They may want to consider ordering the bands alphabetically, with the newer videos featured on the topside of the site. But the site still works pretty well.

The Weather Channel

weather.com

Intended Audience:

The on the go travelers who may be going 200 miles to Oklahoma or 5,000 to Paris but above all seek up to date weather information now.

Usefulness of Content:

Weather information now and not when abc broadcasts it is the current trend in receiving a cities weather status. The content includes sever weather information, current weather information, as well as tips on how to deal with different weather conditions. The content is very useful and the website is attractive to advertise on due to the variety and popularity of the cite and its content.

Consistency of Design:

The design is very consistent. The logo and search tool is on the top and bellow that is the navigation bar. What is also consistent is that underneath the banner at the top the left half of the page is weather.com content and the right half is filled with ads.

Ease of Navigation:

Overall the cite is easily navigated because of the search tool and the clarity of the content. A few concerns include the amount of important information is below the fold that many might miss. Also, the fact that ads are taking up half the page leads to a cluttered page that cannot easily be navigated through.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

English History-Tudors

http://englishhistory.net/tudor.html

Intended Audience:
  • People interested in English History, the Tudors, or the Renaissance
Usefulness of Content:
  • The information contained within this site isn't useful in any practical way
  • While it might have been useful for research purposes because it contains both primary and secondary sources this is negated by the fact that there are no citations for these sources-only the creator's word that they are actually (for example) the letters of Henry VIII's six wives (while the .net in the web address inspires confidence, the fact that the site hasn't been updated recently and many of the pages are dead does not)
  • Mostly the information is useful to those who are curious about the Tudors and aren't picky about whether it is truth or not
Consistency of Design:
  • While the background and text styles remain the same throughout the site the structure of the pages changes-so on each new page the visitor must re-learn where everything is
  • Ex. The pages available to click on under the Biographies Category tend to have a portrait with the list of available names to the right of it but under the Portraits Category the names are underneath the picture
  • In reference to the example mentioned above-while most pages try to contain most of their information within one page (so there is no scrolling) the link under the Portraits Category has all the information available only when you scroll down-this inconsistency makes it harder for the user to realize that he/she must scroll to find the information
  • No header or list common to all the pages
Ease of Navigation:
  • A lot of blank space with easy to see links makes it easy to navigate but since there is no common header or list on every page it is easy to forget what's available
  • However every page does have an easily seen link back to the previous page so a person won't get lost but this is just as easily accomplished as the Back button in the browser window
  • Because this isn't a particularly deep site this isn't a big deal but this site could use some professional work

Sunday, November 18, 2007

El Arroyo

http://www.ditch.com


Target Audience
  • people who already know about the restaurant & are looking for specific information--menu items, hours of operation, happy hour specials, etc.
  • visitors comparing mexican food restaurants in Austin--want information because they may not be familiar with it because it is a local joint


Usefulness of Content
  • gives what they have on their menu & daily food and drink specials--good to have because these could be deciding factors for people to go to the restaurant
  • have a music calendar, but nothing is on it so why have this feature
  • gives visitors the ability to purchase store merchandise online
  • don't give hours that they are open each day


Consistency of Design
  • have a different background color for each section of the site, but works well because they stick to colors that work well for that type of restaurant--yellows, greens, & reds
  • a little hard to see the white text on certain pages
  • one picture per page, but they are big and visually appealing


Ease of Navigation
  • main navigation on every page so you can get to any part of the site easily
  • short pages so you hardly ever have to scroll very far
  • not very clear how to scroll on the menu page

http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/

The Whole Foods Market

Target Audience:

Anyone who is interested in the stores/events, careers, customer service, produces, catering, recipes, information on nutrition and healthy, issues relating to the green action, animal welfare, genetically engineered foods, organic foods, etc.

Usefulness of Content:

Wonderfully useful especially when users are interested in the whole foods (duh).
The home page introduces major category information like "company," "products," "recipes," "whole body," "issues," "stores & events," "careers," etc. Each category contains a plethora of subcategories that have more detailed information. For example, upon clicking whole body, you will see the link on the left side related to body care, health & wellness, herbhelp, healthnotes, etc, along with the content in the middle that has more link attached pertaining to body care, dietary guidelines, special diets, nutrition reference library, etc. Users can find a variety of information relating to that topic.

Consistency of Design:

Remarkable! The home page displays the font color scheme that fits the theme of whole foods: Green. The top row consists of major topics linked with numerous subtopics to each. Upon clicking recipes, you can see all the related topics on the left side column and the content in the middle portion of the page.

Ease of Navigation:

Search engine makes it quick and easy to find what users wish to search and browse. The consistency of design also renders navigation predictable and easy to come back from sub-topic pages.

88.7 Houston Public Radio, KUHF

www.kuhf.org

This is the website for the local public radio station in Houston, Texas.

Intended Audience:
- KUHF listeners

Usefulness of Content:
Like most websites for public radio stations that I have visited, this site includes all of the basics for listeners - a listing of programs, the schedule for both the regular station and the HD channel, local news and weather updates, podcasts and a donation page. KUHF also creates special arts programs and tours for listeners to experience. I really enjoy that KUHF includes a listing of local art or entertainment events in Houston. As a fairly new resident of the Houston area, I like learning about all that is available to me.

Consistency of Design:
I enjoy that this site subtly mirrors the NPR site in its basic layout and look. The blue and white are similar and the choice is pleasing to the eye. The KUHF site also shares the same basic layout of the NPR site, with a navigation bar at the left and on the top, which contain different pages and paths, and all of the content is placed in the middle of the page. Most of the interior pages retain the top navigation bar, with the left-hand navigation bar either gone entirely or containing different links for each page.


NPR's website

KUHF's website

One page I particularly like is the "Playlists" page from the Main page (the page itself is titled Program Schedule), which displays only the current day's programs in a clear and simple table which a user could print out easily if desired.

Ease of Navigation:
As noted above, some of the names of the links and pages differ. I prefer a site that puts the effort and thought into making sure that these terms match, as it makes for less confusion and easier navigation. I would also prefer a "Home" link in the top navigation bar - while it is easy enough to click on the logo, text links provide a nice back-up form of navigation. Otherwise, I think the site does a good job of denoting external links, by grouping them together under headings such as "Additional Information" or with icons for other websites which are provided as links, for example on the "Local Weather Page" (http://kuhf.impactweather.com/).

I think this is a professional and attractive website, and none of the problems I listed interfere with my ability to use and enjoy the website.

Eddie Bauer

http://www.eddiebauer.com/eb/default.asp

Intended audience
People like casual, sporty and/or functional outfits and gears with reasonable price.

Usefulness of content
Pros: Size description, by inch and by centimeter. It is really helpful for people from nations using metric system (me either). It is important if an apparel company is thinking about global business/ international market. Each merchandise, except for some sale items, has three pictures at least (main, alternative, details). In larger view, viewers are able to see other available color with “entire” clothing (websites sometimes show only “color sample” or zoom-up of a part/surface of the clothing, so viewers are not easy to image the clothing in alternative color). “Tops by fit” and “pants by fit” are kind to customers who search specific fit (tight/moderate fit or loose).

Cons:
Many sale items have only one picture (main). Outlet sections (eddiebauer.com) are not included in the website; viewers must leave the site if they want to go to the outlet page.

Consistency of design
Little busy looking, perhaps many explanation words/copies on the photos, but generally consistent. The top of the page always lists sections (men, women, gifts …), and the left always icludes categories (outerwear, sweaters …). The background (outside of the page) is designed well; now is pine trees and snow, matching with the season.

Ease of navigation
Quite good. One of the easiness in this website is customer service section. The listing regarding customer service is very-detailed and well-organized. It is a “at-a-glance” list and viewers are easy to find information they need. Each information links to each page so viewers are able to jump directly to any information they want to know with just one-click; usually customer care sections at websites crammed all the customer-related information in one page. In addition, it is good that “Catalog Quick Order” “Eddie Bauer Friends (rewards program)” “Eddie Bauer E-mail (mailing list)” “Store Nearest You” are on the home/top page. People who look for these sections probably want to do quick search/access. Plus, every page has “search” box. This is customer-friendly.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ashford Castle

http://www.ashford.ie/

Intended audience
  • potential castle guests
  • potential castle employees
Usefulness of content
The content is very useful for potential guests. It includes:
  • lots of gorgeous pictures of the castle
  • packages and last-minute offers
  • a tool to view rates and make reservations
  • information regarding castle amenities and how to get there
  • video tours of the castle (really neat if you've got the bandwidth)
The only other information I would need as a potential consumer are user reviews. For this reason, I'd probably log on to another site and look for that. I wouldn't expect the web site to publish any negative or even balanced reviews towards its own product.

Consistency of design
  • Everything is big. The dimensions of the site are relatively wide, which indicates that they're targeting customers with larger monitors. The videos demand higher bandwidth, which again targets more affluent customers.
  • The royal blue and gold color scheme is very elegant, and is used consistently.
  • The pictures are all gorgeous and have a similar feel about them. This could not have been easy because there are so many of them, and they feature everything from aerial shots, snow-covered seasonal shots, photos of certain dishes, to photos of people. Everything in the photos seems infused with light, and gives the illusion that this is the natural state of this magical place.
Ease of navigation
  • A minor quibble is that the main navigation bar shifts above or below a large picture depending upon the subtopic which is being featured.
  • The secondary navigation bar on the left hand side of the screen exists only for certain topics. Otherwise, a row of thumbnails is used as a secondary navigation device. After clicking on a few links, it's easy to forget how you got there.
  • There are no breadcrumbs to help guide you.
  • However, the back button on the browser works on all the pages that I tested, and that helps a lot.
  • The reservation tool has tabs which clearly indicate the steps involved in making a reservation, which is very helpful from an e-commerce perspective.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Brain Info

Brain Info @ Washington University
http://braininfo.rprc.washington.edu/menumain.html
Intended Audience:
Those interested in the Cognitive Sciences: Psychology; Computer Science; Neurology; etc
Usefulness of Content:
HomeSearch; by NameSearch; Atlas; Tools & Methods; Send Feedback; About BrainInfo; Authors; Copyright; Other Atlases.
It has very useful content. As listed above it provides a variety of methods to study the brain: everything from anatomical to functional explanations and diagrams.
It even has interactive brains with which a user can click on a part and a section of the page provides info about the area selected and even notes what is overlapping.
Ease of Navigation:
Simple. Links on the left, display on the right. They offer a quasi-metaphor selection option from the first page, but you always have the plain-text choices on the left.
Consistency of Design:
The layout is consistent, however the content information looks like it was derived from different creaters. An example being that some content buttons match the style of the Navigation buttons, however others have a completely different style. It makes it seem more amateurish a site than would be prefered.
Once in each section, however they do remain rather constant.
Overall the content is great. It would seem far supierior if they just made the appearance a bit more aesthetically pleasing and ensured consistency.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

National Geographic

www.nationalgeographic.com

Intended audience:
People who have an interest in natural history, world culture, geography, the environment, animals, photography, etc.

Usefulness of content:
The content is great. The site features well-written and informative articles on a range of topics. They also have a world map, music from around the world, and amazing photography. In addition, you can find everything you’d need to know about any of National Geographic’s magazines, as well as helpful travel info.

Consistency of design:
The design is definitely consistent. Every page features the same logo, background, and color scheme.

Ease of navigation:
I think the site is a little clunky, but that may just be because there’s almost too much information here. The links on the left are consistent on every page, which makes navigation between pages simple, and the search bar remains at the top of every page, which is great for anyone who’s having a hard time navigating the site. My only real problem is that there’s too much featured on each individual page. Sometimes that makes the navigation of this site seem a bit overwhelming.

Once

http://www.oncethemovie.com/

Intended Audience
This is a Web site for the film, Once, so the intended audience is people who are interested in this film, heard about it from somewhere, saw the trailer or just came across the film's ad on the web.

Usefulness of Content
Apart from the normal info that are usually given in movie's site such as synopsis, gallery, cast and crews, press reviews, and trailer, the interesting part that I like about this site is that there is a part called About the Film which tells you exactly how the director got the idea for this film and the production process of the film.

Consistency of Design
The site has an unconventional design. It doesn't have normal menu or navigational bars. All the content in the site is fitted into different images and those images keep sliding on like a film. I like this unconventional design of the site especially the Gallery page. Instead of just putting all the images down, the images are made into polariod-type pictures and are attached to the wall in the bedroom scene from the film so it looked like you actually looking at polariod pictures that the character put on in his or her bedroom.

Ease of Navigation
Even though I think the design of this site is great, I think there are a lot of problem with navigation in this site. First, I found that to get to any part of the site, you have to wait until that part sliding around and that can take a long time since there is no option to adjust the speed of the sliding. I think that the site at least should have a small menu somewhere so people who only want to go to that specific part of the site can just click it and go there immediately instead of having to wait till the image sliding around.
Second, the sliding never stops, even when I'm not on the page, I find this really irritating especially when I'm trying to read something and the page keeps sliding left and right depend on the slight movement of my mouse. I think there should be a pause button so that it's possible for you to stop the sliding to read the content on the image.
Third, the on/off audio control doesn't have a different after-click stage. When I first enter the Web site I thought the audio wasn't on because the beginning of the audio was really soft and I didn't hear it at first so I clicked on the on button but the button didn't have a different stage after I clicked it so I thought that I didn't click it yet. This is also a slight point that makes me feel irritated about this site . All in all, I really like the design of the site but I think the site needs to improve a lot regarding its navigation.

LibraryCrunch

http://www.librarycrunch.com/

Intended Audience:

LibraryCrunch is an informative blog written by Michael Casey, the Technology Director of Qwinnett County Public Library. His intended audience is librarians and anyone interested in the library profession.

Usefulness of Content:

Casey consistently posts high interest articles relevant to the world of libraries. He also keeps his audience up-to-date with library news providing brief summaries of current events, then links to the full text. His archive dates back to 2005 making available useful library content. He also provides links to flickr, other useful blogs, and fun music.

Ease of Navigation:

His blog is easy to manipulate. Casey provides a thorough table of contents which not only link to all the archives but to other cool stuff too. A search located conveniently at the top right margin makes searching for a topic within his blog easy.

Consistency of Design:

His design is pleasing to the eye using nice colors and various font sizes. His use of images add interest to the overall design.

This blog has been a beneficial find.



Atlanta convention and visitors bureau

http://atlanta.net/
Intended Audience: Visitors to Atlanta and meeting planners.

Usefulness of Content: The content includes up to date information about events, dining venues, and hotel information. It also provides two navigations for meeting planners, media room (that includes information on how to target the Atlanta audience) and the Tour and travel Trade.

Ease of Navigation: The main page has a flash image that moves whenever the mouse moves which over time proves distracting and disorienting. Besides that the rest of the navigation is good. The search tool is very helpful in locating what you want on the website. If the content is not on the website it directs you to other Atlanta area sites.

Consistency of Design: The design overall is consistent except for a few pages on the site (ex. for meeting planners). The website seems unfinished and certain pages were not as important to re style because of that.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

8th post: Dogster

Intended Audience:
* People who are serious dog-lovers
- They see their pets as people
- They want to interact with other dog-lovers
- They are interested in doggie news and events

Usefulness of Content:
* Very useful for dog-lovers
- News blogs
- News and Updates
- Resources - Ask the Dr, Dog Food Recall, Adoption Questions
- Adoption - Find adoptable dogs
- Plus, the social networking with other dog lovers

Ease of Navigation
* Easy to navigate
- Can easily see log in area on the left
- Can easily see how to join the site
- Sections on the left include: My Account, Messages, See the Dogs, Adoption, Community, Answers, Local Listings - these sections have drop down menus that show specific subsections
- Broader topics at the top as well: New to Dogster, My Account, Answers, Forums, Groups, Videos

Consistency of Design
*Very consistent
- Always has top and left navigation
- Has a blue and orange theme
- Always has a blue background with a white page in the middle which contains content

Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau

http://www.santafe.org
Intended Audience: This website as designed for visitors to New Mexico. The page title Santa Fe Convention and Visitors Bureau conveys that this site is also designed for organizations or businesses considering a location for a convention of some sort.

Usefulness of Content: The purpose of this site is to get people excited about Santa Fe and raise enthusiasm about planning a visit to Santa Fe. The website has extensive content regarding the practicalities of visiting Santa Fe. On the home page is form for making a hotel reservation and a link for directions to the city.

Ease of Navigation: This website is not unusual and the navigation is organized under a large photo banner. Located on the left the navigation's placement should not surprise most internet users. However, the default text size on the site makes the navigation hard to see. There is also plenty of contextual navigation (in line text links) to other areas of the SantaFe.org site. This is helpful for the kind of browsing that most travel planning requires and it supports associative learning. These things are all positive but I did find it difficult to find the phone number for the organization. I think this would be frustrating for users who are more comfortable making travel arrangements on the phone.

Consistency of Design: The design of this website is consistent throughout the subsites connected to SantaFe.org. However, I don't think the design is as good as it could be. The large graphic at the top of the page is good looking and static which makes it more accessible, still in 2007 I don't know if a large banner photo on a website raises the excitement that it once did. The website is largely text based which is fine but I think that the text should be more readable. I was also surprised to see an embedded video on the homepage but this a slim offering to Web2.0 enthusiasts.

twits

twitter

Intended Audience:
People who want to stay hyper-connected to other people; people who want to take advantage of the opportunity to stalk other people that the other people provide.

Usefulness of Content:
Is twitter useful? Will it help save people? Maybe not, but I bet Google wants to buy it. Twitter is tiny updates, ie from phones, about where you are or what you're doing. Twitters I would twitter, if I twittered:
-In class. Dying.
-Sitting in the PCL--no one told me it was Whore Costume Day?
-This is a really long stop light.

Then if you subscribed to my twitter, you would be know that at various points of my day I was a) dying in class; b) sitting in the PCL feeling codgerish and mean; and c) stuck in traffic somewhere. I'm sure this is useful information for someone!

Consistency of Design:
Yes.

Ease of Navigation:
Once you know the username of the person you're looking for, you're golden. I haven't tried browsing around (it's more designed for "here's a link to my twitter" than "I wonder if ___ is on twitter?"), but it's probably pretty straightforward. I think "twitter" is almost a self-descriptive onomatopoeia.

Quotes and Sayings

quotesandsayings.com

I found this site through IPL's list of sources for quotations. IPL describes the site as "a search portal for finding literary quotations and sayings from all the best databases on the internet."

Intended Audience:
Unsuspecting victims who witness horrific web design or people who are trying to find the author or source of a quotation.

Usefulness of Content: The intended content of this site should be useful but only if a user can navigate through the maze of ads or even know where to enter in search terms. You should be able to enter their portal and search through different databases. They even have a place where you can search Google through their site... Really.

Consistency of Design:
OR how the site lacks consistent design. When you first open the page you are inundated with small bits of information spread over the page, all in different sizes, colors, and fonts. My eyes have a hard time even settling on anything on the page without being distracted by everything else around it. The patterned wallpaper does not help the eyes when viewing this site.

Ease of Navigation: Like stated earlier navigation through this site is nearly impossible. I came to the site wanting to look up the source of a quote but soon was troubled with even finding the correct search box to input the quote. There is not an about section of the page at all where I can at least attempt to learn how to navigate the site.

Concluding thoughts: This site is just wrong.

tlc.discover.com

Intended Audience:

Anyone they can get to watch their channel!

Usefulness of Content:

  • Links to Discovery, Animal Planet, Travel Channel
  • Links to Discovery Health, and the Discovery Store
  • Program scheduling
  • Drop down box to popular show websites
  • Video previews, and even full episode videos
  • TLC guides to fashion, holidays, wine, traveling, etc.
  • TLC newsletters
  • Ability to apply for shows
  • Search feature
  • Links to howstuffworks.com
Consistency of Design:

The design is very good, they obviously have some deep pockets with which to create a good website. The color scheme for each channel's respective pages are attractive without being distracting. Information sub pages look different, but are easily adjusted to.

Ease of Navigation:

Very easy to browse. I like the drop down box at the top of the page that allows you to just to your favorite shows and hop onto the message boards. The side bar menu and top menu are self explanatory and easy to use.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

www.sbmuseart.org


Target Audience:

Primarily local museum visitors, educators, families, volunteers, and donors. The site doesn’t seem to particularly target Santa Barbara’s numerous tourists (no stunning pictures of the Santa Barbara coastline or downtown, very little glamour marketing), although they must constitute a fair number of the museum’s visitors.


Usefulness of Content:

The site covers all the major information categories one would expect on a museum website, and really is quite useful, but the information is primarily presented in static, text-based form. Each current exhibition is described with a lengthy text and one accompanying photo. While this is sufficient, compared to many Web 2.0 museum sites that incorporate extensive audio-visual and interactive material, the SBMA site seems pretty dated. I was at first impressed to see that they have a page listing podcasts, but these are for past exhibits only. It’s a great idea, but connecting with their current exhibitions would invite more public interest and better museum publicity. They also need to build a link from the exhibit descriptions to the podcast listings. Furthermore, the images the podcasts describe need to be displayed, or the commentary will have little meaning to listeners.


Consistency of Design:

The museum home page is extremely unattractive, demonstrating unbalanced design, dull color choice, and underlined links. It does not fit on the screen, so one must scroll down to see the major link categories. Subpages are at least formatted to fit the screen, but they use frames to accommodate lengthy content, rather than creating series of shorter linked pages. The unconvincing presentation of the museum mission statement, which looks as if five minutes maximum were devoted to creating the page, conveys a shoddy image for a fine local institution. The museum should also change the colors on the Parents/Kids section to something other than the fluorescent pink and green with gray text.


Ease of Navigation:

In the sections where users can view descriptions of the museum’s permanent collections, they are able to view close-up images of selected items, but navigation is difficult. The site needs to add forward and back arrows to facilitate navigation through the images, rather than the confusing drop down menu bar of artist names.


After reviewing this site and that of the Huntington Library last week, it has been eye-opening to see the stark difference between cultural institution websites that have made the leap to Web 2.0 and those that haven’t kept up. Perhaps this can mainly be attributed to a lack of funding or misguided leadership vision, but the public will certainly judge these institutions to some extent by the quality of the online experience they present.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Homestar Runner

This week's post: Homestarrunner.com My favorites on this site: Teen Girl Squad and Strong Bad Emails.

Intended Audience:

  • Children, teenagers, or adults interested in a variety of online, comic cartoons featuring the characters StrongBad, Homestar Runner, and the Cheat (among others) that are updated pretty frequently.
  • Anyone also wanting games, downloads, and merchandise featuring said cartoon characters.
Usefulness of Content:

Like most of the purely-for-entertainment sites we review here, there is probably nothing that could legitimately be called "useful" on Homestarrunner.com, unless you think a site guaranteed to make you laugh while killing some time is useful. Which I do.

Consistency of Design:

  • The home page (after a splash page) can be loud and visually overwhelming. Depending on which page design comes up (they change whenever you go back), the characters could be yelling the menu items loudly, or it could be a design that doesn't incorporate sound effects. Similarly, lots of animation happens when you roll over each link.
  • The site is really colorful, and although it could seem like the colors would also be visually overwhelming, the pages are designed so cleverly, it's not an issue. For instance the "toons" link takes you to a remote control with links to each archived cartoon, and a TV guide-type publication shows right next to it shows you everything that's new. The "downloads" link takes you to an ATM-type interface where you choose the category of download.
  • The best thing about this site's design, and which tempers the sometimes-distracting visuals, is that the content probably takes up the middle 2/3 of the screen, and the rest of the screen is black. This is true throughout the entire site, except the store. You never have to scroll down for anything, and the main menu buttons are clearly labeled (if in a small font) in white below the content box.
Ease of Navigation

  • Due to my previous point about the site design being contained in a single box with the links menu below, it is very easy to navigate. Wherever you go from the homepage, you can always get back using the white links.
  • Once you've finished watching a cartoon, there are usually clearly labeled links to watch it again, or go back to the cartoon menu you came from. In the cartoons that don't include links, you can easily just use the back arrow or the bottom menu bar to get back to where you were.
  • My only gripe: there is no interface to control the videos - so you can't pause them for any reason. Most are so short, you'd never really need to, but it would still be nice to have the option.

Metacritic!

www.metacritic.com

Target Audience: People interested in reviews: of movies, books, music, whatever. Metacritic compiles numerical review scores from sites all over the web and creates an "average" score: it's similar to rotten tomatoes, but for more types of media. If you're interested in getting a general critical consensus about something, metacritic is a good place to start.

Usefulness of Content: It depends. Since so many different reviews are compiled, you have to take into consideration the fact that not everyone is going to like the same thing. If you're using metacritic to help determine a purchase, you might miss something really attuned to your personal taste just because what you're looking at is a love it or hate it album/movie/book. It's always best to actually read some of the reviews, rather than go by the numerical score straight up.

Consistency of Design: Check! For the amount of content provided, metacritic keeps things pretty simple. Blue, white, and yellow dominate all the pages, and the scores are always on the left side of the page on each particular media section. One thing: while there is a "new release" section on the front page for movies, DVDs, music, and video games, there isn't one for books. So you have to do a bit more looking- but luckily, the section links are just further up on the same page.

Ease of Use: It is fairly easy to navigate metacritic, and they provide some interesting ways to organize their scores: by year, and in order- highest to lowest and lowest to highest. So you can check out the top ten albums of 2003, for instance- at least the top ten albums according to metacritic. Plenty of searching options are provided too.

Deadspin

http://deadspin.com


Target Audience
  • sports enthusiasts who want to get all the latest news on any sport in a single place
  • people wanting an unbiased opinion on sports that you can't get at other sports sites


Usefulness of Content
  • updated several times daily so there is constantly new content
  • the writers for the site give their "unbiased" opinions on sports so it can often give a different viewpoint on a given situation
  • pool articles written by a variety of sources so as to include everything they can


Consistency of Design
  • grey color scheme throughout the site
  • separate the brief overviews of each articles well
  • for articles written by Deadspin, they allow registered users to make comments & these show up beneath each of the articles
  • no white space at the very top of the page which is visually annoying
  • main navigation isn't easily distinguished from other links at the top of the page


Ease of Navigation
  • they link to other sites but they don't make them open up into new windows which often makes it confusing as to where you are--at Deadspin or at another site
  • don't have the main site navigation at the top of the page so you can't easily get to the main sections quickly
  • easily confused as to where exactly you are within the site

Home Depot

Home Depot

  • Target Audience:

Folks who are interested in the company, finding a job, stock investment, kids workshops, etc.

  • Usefulness of Content:

It is useful. All the menus on the top row have sub-menus that direct the target audience to each interest field: For example, for the career menu, it has the sub-menus for store opportunity, corporate opportunity, and EXPO opportunity. If you click on each menu, you will be directed to content page that displays detailed info on how to apply for a position, podcast for job preview, program for different culture group, benefits, etc. For shoppers, there are links like shop online, store finder, and contact us on the right side of the top corner. If you like to see each sub-menu that contains detailed info links with a bird-eye view, there is a sitemap as each submenu contains sitemap within.

  • Consistency of Design:

It is consistent throughout the site.

The color scheme stays the same: The each main menu with sub menus on the left column is orange: The top row with the main menu is dark green throughout.

The layout is consistent: The logo stays on the left top corner; the main menus are on the top row containing sub menus in each; the 2/3 portion of half the body displays the pertaining picture to each content. Below the picture is the related content to the menu. Three external links for home depot shopping aficionados are located on the top right corner above the dark green main menu row: shop online, store finder, and contact us.

  • Ease of navigation:

Except the absence of search engine, this site is easy to navigate because of the consistent color scheme and layout. It helps users to know what to expect where.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Randalls

randalls.com

Intended Audience:
- People who shop at Randalls
- People looking for recipes
- People looking for job opportunities at Randalls
- People looking for information on the services provided by Randalls (flu shots, Starbucks, Jamba Juice, pharmacy)

Usefulness of Content:
Randalls has all of the basics most grocery store websites have: store locater, a electronic copy of the week's ads and specials, and information about Randalls special brand of food, Signature. Besides this, there is a store map, which is a wonderful way to get acquainted with the store before a visit (and help map out the order of grocery items to buy), and a recipe center. If a user selects a recipe from the recipe center, it will add the ingredients of the recipe to a "Shopping List" which the user can then print out and take with them to a grocery store (any. perhaps not even Randalls). I found this a fun and useful feature.

Consistency of Design:
I really liked the design for this site. The red tabs at the top reminded me of tabs in a recipe box, and I liked that the one the user is on remains red. The pages look clean and simple, which probably means some work went into making the site look this simple.

Ease of Navigation:
For the most part, I thought the navigation of this site was very easy. Most of the pages included a "Back to Previous Page" link at the top of the main content box. I liked that on most pages, there were at least two ways to get to specific information: a navigation menu on both the top and on the left of the main content. That way, no matter how the user looks for the information, they will find it. One of my main issues is that there are several links that navigate the user away from the website to another Randalls/Safeway website. I wish that the site designer had marked this to let the user know they were leaving the website.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Design Within Reach/DWR

http://www.dwr.com/

Intended audience
People like clean & simple contemporary-design furniture, including everyday tools and small appliances.

Usefulness of content
Pros: designer biographies. This brand sells very conceptual/designer-oriented furniture. For prospective customers, it may be important to know the “behind the products” to make a decision to buy.
Cons: Design Within Reach is mainly designers’’ furniture shop/gallery, but currently the top page is “tools for living,” not furniture section. Moreover, the top of the left-side page link listing is “gift service.” Furniture page link is not easy to find. It might be because now is in gift season. Nevertheless, some viewers may be confused, specifically, if they look for furniture, main products of the bland (See also “ease of navigation”).

Consistency of design
Consistent. Simple and elegant. Any page has the same layout (the top and left listing). Colors in the pages are not used unnecessarily. Moderate amount of white. No busy looking at all.

Ease of navigation
Generally easy, but some sections may be needed to be improved. For example, as mentioned in usefulness of content, “furniture” section is currently buried in the website. In addition, “categories” in the left listing are mixed up different levels of grouping. They are Seating, Bedroom, Shelving/Storage, Tables, Lounge, Dining, Workspace, Lighting, Outdoor, Accessories, and Floor Covering. It may be intentionally done; for example, a viewer is looking for multi-purpose “table” for eating and studying/working and another viewer is looking for “table” strictly for working. Still both of them are able to find the right one from the categories. However, for some viewers, such the grouping may be annoying because the viewers may have to look for several categories to find the best one. In addition, “Find a studio (showroom)” should be more obvious. After all, it is a furniture shop!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Mariner's Museum

http://www.mariner.org/

Intended Audience
  • People interested in maritime history-not only for people who physically want to visit the museum because because this site also contains online exhibits for those who want the knowledge
  • School children interested in maritime history-there is a big section of this site devoted to educational programs/exihibits/activities for children
  • Members of the Mariner's Museum
Usefulness of Content
  • Instead of simply advertising the displays available at the museum, this site actually has a good selection of displays to see online so it is very educational
  • There is also a library catalog available online
  • Very useful content-it doesn't simply say here's what you could have if you came to the museum it gives the user most of the information online

Consistency of Design

  • Tabs across the top remain the same throughout the site but the sub-categories down the left side change depending on which category is chosen
  • The color of the tabs across the top and the picture within the heading banner also change according to which category is chosen
  • Negative: Every time a new cateogory is chosen a new picture is presented on the heading banner-these go through a process to load (first stars come across, then words, then the bricks across the bottom of the heading, the bricks break apart for more words, and the picture loads)-this is annoying and distracting when clicking through the different categories
  • However the same type of information is displayed in the same place throughout the site-making it easy to find information
Ease of Navigation
  • Fairly easy to navigate throughout most of the site-but the Library Catalog does not contain the navigation tags that the rest of the site does making it difficult to go back to the main site from the Library Catalog without using the back button
  • Main categories presented across the top of the page with sub-categories down the left side so if someone ever gets lost within the site it is easy to find the main page
  • Negative: since there is no map (Ex. something that reads "Exhibitions and Collections>Online Exhibits>Women and the Sea" underneath the heading) showing exactly what tabs you have chosen it might be hard to find the way back to a a particular page

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

7th post: BarnesandNoble.com

Intended Audience:

* Currently its Holiday shoppers looking for Christmas gifts
*Mostly, it targets readers and book enthusiasts
*Books are the main seller for sure, but other products include: DVDs, Music, and Video games

Usefulness of Content:

*Useful for Holiday shoppers because:
- Offers holiday gift catalog
- Can save 40% of holiday picks
- Can purchase gift cards
- Offers more than books

*Useful for book enthusiasts because:
- Displays 100 best sellers
- Can easily find New Releases, Coming Soon, and Best Sellers
- For many books customer and editorial reviews are available

Consistency of Design:

* Very Consistent:
- Green border and white page w/ content
- Top navigation bar and search remains the same throughout the site
- Side navigation bar offers a better look at what is within each section
- Navigation at the bottom of page stays consistent

Ease of Navigation:
* Menus remain constant throughout the site
* Easy global and local navigation
* Easy browsing and searching
* Always know where the navigation bars are
*If you want to start over and go back home, the logo at the top is always there as the HOME link

Reader's Advisor Online Blog

www.readersadvisoronline.com

Target Audience
This blog targets professional librarians and support staff that provide reader's advisory.

Usefulness of Content
Articles are written by experts in the library field and cover a broad range of topics from popular nonfiction genres like micro-history to the relevance and usefulness of litblogs. Updated on a monthly basis, the reader can find brief book reviews and stay abreast of selections soon to be released.

Consistency of Design
The site's layout is consistent throughout almost to the point of being a bit boring. The articles take up the majority of the screen leaving room on the right for listing current fiction/nonfiction best sellers, books to keep your eye on, new this week, categories, and finally their favorite blogs. Colors and fonts remain consistent throughout.

Ease of Navigation
The navigation is a bit clunky. One page rolls into the next, with no links to help navigate back to the top or to a previous article. There is no table of contents or links to articles. Much scrolling is involved. If you access a link, you must use the back arrow to get back to where you were.


Rooms to Go

Target Audience:

  • Just about anyone willing pay for new furniture!
  • Recently moved shoppers
  • Looking to redecorate shoppers
  • Interior designers
  • Home sellers looking for staging furniture ideas
Usefulness of Content:

  • Information on current sales
  • Info and lots of images on available merchandise, including those sold in packages and separately, and corresponding pricing information
  • Lots of design ideas simply from the images of pre-set rooms
  • Information on financing options and delivery
  • Customer Service Support
  • Employment Opportunities
  • The Ability to create an online account that saves your favorites through a wish list, as well as allows you to buy items and pay bills.
  • Store locator
  • General Company Info.

Consistency of Design:

  • Fairly consistent throughout. Navigation menus always available at the top, and bottom
  • However the iconic category links to the right of the screen on the home page does not match the usual textual category links found on the left hand side of all the supplementary pages. But this is not terribly distracting or confusing.

Ease of Navigation:

  • Very easy to navigate to the specific furniture desired through the top horizontal menu (AND right side menu w/ icons) that differentiates between the various rooms (i.e. dining room vs. living room) and available accessories
  • Login options right at the top, but could be a little bigger for better visibility

Wed Nov. 7th : LANIC

LANIC

Intended Audience:

Latino adults

Usefulness of content:
The site is made up of online - based information about Latin America. This includes links to journals, statistics, and newsrooms that cover a broad range of relevant topics from economy to education to culture. Although the website does not provide the information itself, it does provide links to the useful information. The content of the page is translated into 3 languages which allows the audience to understand what they are being linked to. The content is also word heavy and does not cater to visually focused users.

Consistency of Design:
The website design is consistent. The design includes banner throughout the website, navigation at the bottom of the page, and the content in the middle. The design does not change when one changes to a different translation.

Ease of Navigation:
The navigation bar is at the bottom and therefore when content is heavy is not easily visible and the user is left to use the back to previous page tool from the browsers tool bar. Other than that the website is easy to navigate through.

Refdesk

Refdesk.com


This site was brought to my attention in another class as a site useful for finding all kinds of information. It is an attempt to be a online general reference desk. In its attempts to please everyone, I find it is so busy that I would not use it.

Intended Audience
Anyone and everyone wanting to find information.

Usefulness of Content
There is tons of information here, some more useful than others. It seems to attempt to link to everything hoping that some of it will be of use to everyone. There are calenders, calculators, quick links to major online resources (email, news, search sites, dictionaries, map/direction sites, etc), news stories, entertainment, article/joke/story "of the day" sites, columnists, encyclopedias... I could go on and on. The site doesn't really contain information, it links to it.


Consistency of Design
There isn't much to talk about here. Virtually every page is a link to another site or a pop-up. There is little to no local information besides FAQs about the site, pages to allow you to subscribe to a non-ad driven version, or to set up a "My Refdesk" personalized page (essentially restricting/ordering whats on the page to be less busy). What content there is is pretty basic (white background, ad and logo at top, etc) and boring.

Ease of Navigation
Well, not much to navigate. Its all links to elsewhere. It can be hard to find things on the main page as it is so busy. One big beef, something (I think the refreshing ad at the top of the page) combined with the length of the page means that if I am in the middle of the page and switch to another window, when I return the page will not be where I left it, it will often have refocused back to the top of the page.

Twang


Twang.com

I am not 100% sure how I found this website, all I remember is jumping through links and then there was a freaky noise. Hit home and turn your speakers up because it is 5 seconds of pure joy.

Twang is a company which produces "one-of-a-kind high quality spice blends that enhance the eating and drinking experience". Their website acts as a store front selling Twang.

Intended Audience: Anyone interested in buying Twang products or Twang swag. I am going to assume that most people who come here are wholesalers/distributors. Or maybe people who can't get Twang locally.

Usefulness of Content: The content would be useful if you want to buy Twang products. They also provide recipes for users and also provide Twang swag so that you can show your Twang pride via hat or shirt.

Consistency of Design: I like the design of this site, it stays the same throughout each page, changing only the colors to better represent the different products.

Ease of Navigation: Because the design is consistent the navigation is pretty simple. You click on the left hand side and it brings items up in the same space. It's built on a web database so tracking through the site is pretty straightforward.