Wednesday, October 31, 2007

6th post: (M&M's)

Intended Audience: People who like to bake with M&Ms, Moms who bake, kids

Usefulness of Content:
Useful for mom's and people who like to baker because:
* Recipes
* Holiday ideas
* Party ideas
* Can create custom M&Ms for gifts and holidays

Good for kids because:
* Games
* E-cards
* Become an M&M
* Can make dessert requests to mom

Consistency of design:
Very consistent:
* Top navigation bar with subtopics used for global navigation
* Local navigation for each section
* Font is same
* Titles are consistent in design
* Bottom navigation bar throughout the site

Ease of Navigation:
* Intuitive, simple, easy to navigate
* Navigation broken up into well defined topics
*Pictures linked to local navigation make it easy to understand
*Global navigation links are available no matter where you are in the site

Eastside Cafe

Intended Audience
People interested dining at Eastside Cafe or in their newsletter or classes on cooking or gardening.

Usefulness of Content
They make probably the most obvious information very easy to find. Location, phone numbers, and hours of operation are right on the front page. It is amazing how many businesses forget this. They also provide all the past newsletters, a way to reserve rooms, order a limited number of items from their store, and class information (upcoming and past) on their site. Overall, most everything you could want from a restaurant website.

Consistency of Design
Very colorful, lots of pictures of food as section separators. Front page with primary links switches to a different (still colorful and useful, but different) layout for the rest of the site.

Ease of Navigation
Front page covers all the main topics with two menus - a simple one with what you would expect - food and wine menus, contact & directions, information about the restaurant and their garden, and their store (but you would need to know that their store was named Pitchforks & Tablespoons or you wouldn't know what that link was). They have a more colorful menu with icons for items they are obviously promoting (their email list, online store, workshops and catering). Once past the front page they go to a straightforward format with the primary topics (menus, etc) as a continuous menu and an additional menu for items specific to that page. One issue, on their page for renting out private dining rooms for events they have let making the site look pretty trump clarity. Until I read the page and looked at the page for a minute I didn't realize the scripted type "Brunch, Lunch, Dinner" were actually links to pricing for reserving rooms for those meals.

brand new timesuck: brand new

It's been a while since I found such an effective timesuck, but whoa mama.

Intended Audience
People interested in typography, design, and the intertwining thereof.

Usefulness of Content
This blog won't save lives per se, to crib from the Onion A.V. club, but it's definitely interesting to people interested in fonts and design, at both the amateur and professional ends of the spectrum.

Consistency of Design
Very simple design maintained throughout the site. It's also, unusually for one of these three-column sites, very easy to tell what each additional section is.

Ease of Navigation
I guess I sort of referred to this above, but there's just something about a mainly white site with clearly defined other sections that appeals to me. I like how they've gone with shades of blue with red titles to make the sidebar contents more clearly differentiated among themselves, and kept the theme of red titles and blue notes throughout. Thumbs up, Brand New!

The Society of American Archivists

Intended Audience
The target audience of this website is anyone who is a member or interested in joining the Society of American Archivists, or anybody interested in the archival profession and archives in the United States.

Usefulness of Content
This site has much useful content. It contains information about the Society and its doings, and how to become a member. It also contains job postings, information about educational events such as workshops, information on its annual meetings, and much more. It also has a section called "Student Information" within the Education section that contains information about which schools have archival programs, an overview of the archival profession, and information about internships. Overall, this site contains much useful information for the budding archivist.

Consistency of Design
This site is designed consistently. Each page in the site has the same general appearance and layout. One design issue is that some pages, including the home page, are fairly long so many people may miss information towards the bottom of the page.

Ease of Navigation
The navigation on this site is good. The navigation bar consists of tabs at the top of the page and menus that pull down when moused over. This system makes various sections in the site easy to find, although I must say that I generally prefer a navigation bar on the left side. One potential issue in this site is that, while the headings for the pages correspond well to the options in the menu, there is no indication of which section a page would be in on the page itself. This could potentially cause confusion on where one is in the site if one links into the site instead of navigating to a page through the site.

University Co-op

Intended Audience:
  • Students, Family, and Alumni at the University of Texas
  • Texas Longhorn fans

Usefulness of Content:

  • Useful to students buying textbooks-the store is so busy during this time of the semester that sometimes this is easier than going to the store to see if the books are available
  • Useful for alumni/family/fans who wish to purchase UT paraphanalia but don't necessarily live in Austin
  • But it is doubtful that students living on campus find this website very useful throughout most of the year

Consistency of Design:

  • Extremely consistent-navigation bar on top and on the left the same throughout the site
  • Even the ads down the right side are consistent throughout the site
  • Even the footer is consistent throughtout the site-allowing the user to view account information, find a store, etc.
  • The colors of orange and white are consistent throughout the site-although this is probably both to ensure consistency and to make it clear this is a UT store

Ease of Navigation:

  • Very easy to navigate with clear categories presented to chose from
  • This is not a deep site-don't have to click on a lot of information in order to view the merchandise
  • Don't have to go back to the home page in order to chose another option
  • Problem: After you have clicked on one of the categories there is nothing telling which category was chosen (the link doesn't change color, there is no navigation at the center top mapping your route through the site, etc)
  • Positive: Most of the information is displayed on one page so there is not a lot of scrolling (ex. ordering textbook link is underneath merchandise link but can still see it without scrolling-can still tell it's there at first glance)

1) your best guess at intended audience;

Because the population of professional librarians and library goers is so diverse, I'd have to say intended audience is very broad. It inlcudes of course those working in the field, in any area of the discipline, MSIS students of all ages, and library supporters and enthusiasts of all ages.

2) usefulness of content;

If you're involved in the field or are looking ahead to an MSIS, then of course the content is extremely useful. There are links for available jobs, scholarships/degree programs, and professional tools, and merchandise. For those outside the field the website does not contain much use other than to donate funds or browse through the news.

3) consistency of design;

I really like the design. The colors are consistent throughout and generally easy on the eyes. Each folder that you navigate to has a similar layout with clear concise titles that allow you to get a good sense of the content within that link.

4) ease of navigation

Very easy to navigate through. The labeled tabs are self-explanatory and are broken down well without cluttering up the home page. The top links for "faqs" and "contact us" really need to be more visible though. Especially the login button for members, it took me a while to locate it.

International Tuba Euphonium Association


Intended Audience:
The website is designed to reach “those who take a significant interest in the tuba and euphonium – their development, literature, pedagogy, and performance,” and particularly, those who are members of the International Tuba Euphonium Association.

Usefulness of Content:
The website contains a tremendous amount of useful information about all things tuba and euphonium. The most useful content on the website is its compilation of links to other related websites and listservs. The website also does a good job of providing content that is helpful to a broad range of people, from the younger students of tuba and euphonium to those who play the tuba professionally and desire to be an active member in the International Tuba Euphonium Association. Some of the news provided on the site appears to be somewhat old, but the listing of upcoming events contained on the site is very up-to-date.

Consistency of Design:
Unfortunately, the consistency of the website’s design is its weakest feature. Clicking through the web pages, one can find differing fonts, font sizes, text formatting and text colors. Even the main menu on the left hand side of the pages changes font size depending on the webpage. The most distracting design aspect is the use of bright white/silvery lettering on a black background. I understand that the reasoning is to convey the same shiny, brass and silver coloring as each person’s tuba or euphonium, but at least for me, reviewing the website led to quick eye fatigue.

Ease of Navigation:
The website is not the easiest website to navigate, but it is certainly not the worst. Some of the aspects that detract from its ease of navigation are: (i) certain pages that are very long and require a lot of scrolling, such as one of the “Links” pages that contains a single, narrow column with pictures of over 30 tuba soloists, (ii) the use of a silvery “Back to Main Page” button, rather than having a “Home” link or the ability to click on the logo at the top of the webpage to return to the home page, (iii) a dead link when clicking on the “Contact” category on the main menu, and (iv) the inconsistencies in the overall website design discussed in the preceding paragraph.

St. Louis Arch

Gateway Arch

This past weekend I flew to St. Louis to visit a good friend. We did the obligatory touristy things which included going to in the arch! This web site caters to several different activities located in and around the Arch, including the Arch, riverboat tours, helicopter tours, bike rentals, Museum of Westward Expansion, etc.

Intended audience: TOURISTS!

Usefulness of content: The content of the site is particularly useful for planning your trip to the Gateway Arch. Everything you would need to know about visiting the Arch as individuals or as a large group.

Consistency of design: I really like the design of this site. They break the information into chunks so that it's easy to parse through the information. This is always a pet peeve of mine when navigating through web pages. Links are used throughout the text to allow for further details. I think one of the strong points of this website is that each page is displayed in the same format so you get used to where information is on each sub-page.

Ease of navigation: You can rely on the menu on the top with drop down sub-menus as well as the side bar menu within each individual page. The top menu is consistent and is always there for a user to navigate back to the beginning of a search.

Hudson's on the Bend

Intended audience
  • Well-heeled central Texas diners who might be interested in what some would consider road kill.
  • The first problem I encountered when attempting to view the website is my laptop's lack of Flash 7, which meant that the entire site was initially unavailable to me. So the site is only viewable, if not intended, for those with Flash 7 and above.
Usefulness of content
The content is useful, if hard to find. Some elements are:
  • Location, hours and directions
  • Menus
  • A store where you can purchase cookbooks
  • Information regarding cooking classes
  • There's even a letter from Lance Armstrong recommending Hudson's.
Consistency of design
The design is consistently awful. That's harsh, I know, but this site is possibly the most annoying one I've blogged about this semester, and that's saying _a lot_.
  • First off, they use this horrible cooking/dining metaphor, so the main navigation bar is a series of hanging pans, and each pan is a link. It's not at all intuitive, so every once in a while, an arm wearing a mitt pops out and tells you to click on the pans. Then it retreats.
  • The white text in a small font on a bright red background is hard to read, but is consistently used.
  • The store opens in a new window, but the cooking school and menus open in the parent window.
  • The main course menu does not actually fit on their menu graphic, so the text scrolls off the menu. I would think this would be a major destination for this site, so it gives the entire site an amateurish feel.
Ease of navigation
  • As mentioned before, the pans are not intuitive as a navigation device, and it's not clear what each one represents, so you have to mouse over them which causes them to swing back and forth and finally display some labels.
  • This site's pages takes ages to load, and they re-load every time you scroll back to a previous page.
  • To get to the last page in the menu, the site scrolls through every page in the menu. So if I want to see desserts, I have to watch the appetizer, salad, and main course pages scroll past first. This actually makes the site less functional and more time-consuming than a real menu would be.

After much trouble, I've determined that using my $25 off coupon to Hudson's will hardly put a dent into the price of dinner for 2, so it won't be worth using. However, I remain curious as to whether the food is better than the website. At $48 a plate, let's hope so.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Carleton College: Private Liberal Arts College

Carleton College: Private Liberal Arts College

Carleton is my undergraduate alma mater.

Intended Audience

These are very clearly spelled out on the home page:

• Prospective students
• Current students
• International students
• Parents
• Alumni
• Faculty and Staff
• Visitors (including the local Northfield, MN community)

Usefulness of Content

I like how prominent the “Quick Links” section is and how it visually parallels the “Resources” section, which is broken down by intended audiences. I’ve been frustrated by some university websites where information is hidden in the sections marked for intended audiences, and you have to imagine which audience might want the information you’re looking for.

The homepage also does a nice job of presenting news and highlighted events taking place on campus – Carleton has very loyal alumni who take an interest in campus events, so having this information prominently displayed may also serve a fundraising interest. These items also show Carleton reaching out to the Northfield community, which was not a significant issue when I attended, so as an alum it’s interesting to see.

The homepage also includes links to various publications, including the alumni magazine Voice and Shout, which, although not identified as such, is a student-run blog, and Planet Carleton, a kind of a metablog that includes blogs affiliated with Carleton or written by Carleton alums.

Consistency of Design

I was surprised by how text-heavy the website as a whole is. This site needs more striking visuals. Carleton has a beautiful campus, but you’d never know it from the homepage. You can click on a “photobook” from the homepage, which brings you small thumbnail images that you can click on to see a larger image. These images are searchable, which is a nice feature, but I’m very surprised that the homepage is as text-heavy as it is, featuring only small thumbnail images. Judging from the calendars we get every year, they must have countless photos that could be used for the homepage that could set a stronger and more appealing visual tone.

Also, the dark blue “site navigation” and directory bar on all the pages is useful, but ugly.

Ease of Navigation

The omnipresent navigation bar makes the site easy to navigate – it tells you exactly where you are and provides access to a site map on every page. I like the prominent Quick Links on the front page.

Overall, the site is easy to navigate and contains well-organized content, but visually it’s disappointing. There’s so much more they could visually to help bring in prospective students and remind alums of the beauty of the campus.

The Satori Group

This week's posting is a website created by a few friends of mine for the theatre company they just started, called the Satori Group. Actually, I'm not sure if they created it themselves, as I just tried to do a 'whois' look up on it, with no luck. Maybe since it's a google page? Or maybe Vista is just being difficult? Anyway -

Intended Audience

  • An attendee of the Cincinnati Fringe Festival who saw the Satori Group's work and wants to find out more about or attend their current productions.
  • People who have read reviews of Satori Group in the Cincinnati papers and are directed to the website for more information.
  • Users browsing around for sites on experimental, ensemble-based theatre companies around the country.
Usefulness of Content

Content includes:
  • information about past, current, and upcoming productions;
  • brief synopses of the group's formation and member biographies;
  • press 'blurbs' and entire reviews about past and current productions;
  • how to buy tickets and how to contact the group.
For practical purposes of getting the word out about your theatre company, that's really all the content you need. There isn't any extraneous information, so I'd say the content is entirely useful.

Consistency of Design

  • There is a splash page that asks you to click 'here' to enter the website. Besides a long Charles L. Mee quote that most people will miss if they don't scroll down, there is an animated screen that rotates pictures of the company in various productions. This is bad design, however, since the pictures only get going after a few seconds, and most users will already have clicked to get into the website by that point.
  • The rest of the site is pretty consistent - it's a simply designed website, so there aren't that many bells and whistles to make it inconsistent. The Satori Group logo, row of menu links along the top of the page, and the title of the page above a horizontal rule are constant on every page you navigate to.
  • The fonts and colors are mostly consistent throughout.
  • One complaint: all the text in the "Press for Satori" is in italics! I understand that they are quotations, but visually, all italics means nothing sticks out, and everything is just a little bit harder to read.
Ease of Navigation

  • Pretty darned easy. The most important, relevant information is on the home page (after you've gotten rid of the splash page, of course): current projects in production and upcoming/ongoing performances. One just needs to scroll down to see (in order) the current production, the upcoming production, and the past production(s). Since this is the information most users will want to know first, it is good it's right up front.
  • The rest of the content is accessed by two rows of links at the top of the page. At first glance, the links look a little smashed together, and could have benefited from some more spacing, or simply an alternatively-designed menu bar.
  • One troublesome aspect I've noted is that once you click on links, the 'back' link is not always in the same place - it's always at the bottom of the page (usually not visible until you scroll down), but sometimes on the left and other times on the right. Unfortunately, clicking on the Satori Group logo will NOT get you back to the home page - it'll just give you a bigger picture of the logo. So you've got to remember that the "welcome" page is where you started if you want to get back there - which is actually pretty intuitive, when you think about it.
  • Apart from that, it's such a simply-designed site, that you can get navigate around the content there is without much difficulty.

Super Deluxe!

Intended Audience:

Super Deluxe is a basically a web "channel" devoted to showcasing short form comedy series, usually 3-4 minutes in length
per episode. (Though some are a bit longer!) As such, fans of animated shorts, stand up comedy, and sketch comedy would find a lot to like here. There are also a few single camera comedy series. As of yet, no one has perfected the 3 minute sitcom, but it could happen!

Usefulness of Content: This is a site you go to to be entertained, and on that front it definitely delivers. A wide selection of videos is presented, and they are written and produced by some big names from the comedy world. (Bob Odenkirk, of Mr. Show, directs one of the shows, just as an example)

Consistency of Design: The site is very consistent, with a solid black background and white text throughout, with a nav bar at the top of the screen that never moves anywhere else. The front page, however, is extremely cluttered when compared to the pages of videos organized by series and artists. It's almost like they tried to cram as much as possible on the home page, when some of the features could have been placed a bit deeper in the site.

Ease of Navigation: If you know what you're looking for, it's relatively easy to find a specific show and start watching. If you've never visited the site, however, it can be more overwhelming. Distributing some of the home page elsewhere (putting a blog link on the nav bar, or some of the features artist content on the 'artist' page) could help alleviate this problem.

Welcome to Obama for America

Target Audience
  • those wanting to help out Barack Obama with his presidential campaign
  • individuals researching presidential candidates to learn about their stance on issues in order to make a more informed decision
  • people who have an interest in politics in general

Usefulness of Content
  • access to personal information about Obama as well as his stance on particular issues which are the key points for American citizens
  • gives people several ways to become involved with the campaign--donating, volunteering, etc.
  • links to recent stories, videos, and pics of Obama to see what is being covered about him in the media

Consistency of Design
  • consistent color scheme of red, white & blue throughout the site
  • very simplistic, making it easy to find the necessary information
  • good separation of content on each page without making it too visually cluttered

Ease of Navigation
  • have the 7 main navigation buttons on every page so you can easily go to any section of the website
  • have all links directing visitors to pages within the site instead of redirecting them out of Obama's page to another site (ex. house all the news articles on the site)
  • contains a lot of information, so you have to scroll pretty far on certain pages

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA)

Intended audience
Tourists plan to visit Austin.
Greater-Austin area residents plan to fly from ABIA.

Usefulness of content
Generally useful. “News” section at the top page is helpful; particularly, frequent ABIA users are able to know which airline will start new service from / to Austin, even if they are not members of the airline frequent flyer program. However, a problem is that the ABIA site does not list accommodation in Austin. If I were a tourist, I would like to have the list of hotels / motels have free-shuttle services, including operation hours (e.g., 24-hour, 5am-11pm, no Sunday service).

Consistency of design
Consistent and simple, maybe too plain for some, including for me. A problem is that it is not easy to accessible although it is simple (see Ease of navigation as following).

Ease of navigation
Not so good. A problem may be “travel tips.” Many levels of information are packed into just one section; it would be easier to access if it has more segmentation. Take “AUS Security Checkpoint Wait Times” for example. It is the information which perhaps many people need at first. However, I assume few people are able to reach the page promptly. Airport map (inside airport) and Austin area maps might be easier to get information if it is interactive. In some parts, more visualized, “at-a-glance” (chart, table, etc.) information organization is needed. Viewers would have the impression that they have to “read” long explanation to get just a piece of information, such as a restaurant business hour and parking fee. Parking section may be a maze for some viewers. There are two ways to go to “parking,” either (1) going to “Getting to ABIA”, then “parking,” or (2) going directly to “parking.” However, they won’t reach the same page. (1) includes public parking map only, and (2) includes more information such as parking fee and valet parking service, but no map, etc.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Austin Live Music - Austin, Texas

Target Audience:

  • Those who are interested in pop concert or local music culture
  • Those who wish/want to entertain themselves at a local live music event

Usefulness of Content:

  • The content is very consistently relevant, featuring live music events, photos, bands, and venues in Austin, Texas.
  • The home page lists upcoming shows with calendar and free shows to boot right next to that upcoming show column, as well as useful review on the previous concert which conveys relatively good info on the musician and music in general with a personal touch.
  • All the information regarding the live music in Austin, ranging from events, comments, ratings, photos, bands, etc is very useful to those interested in the Austin live music. Especially, the comments provided by individuals who visit the site are worth paying attention to: It seems the concert-frequenters are aficionados of the Austin live music, considering their commentaries on places and music n general.

Consistency of Design:

  • The site design is very consistent: Color scheme and overall frame of the design.
  • The top header shows ALM with menu containing "Events/Bands/Venues/Photos" throughout each web page containing the pertinent information. The calendar and other trivia info are always located on the right side of 1/3 portion of each page; so users don't have to sweat over finding what they want. The main content is displayed on the 2/3 portion of each page related to the aforementioned sub-menu.
  • The color scheme on the header and menu stays the same: Famous "orange" shade.
  • Free shows are accentuated by the color green throughout the site.

Ease of Navigation:

  • Super easy navigation.
  • The menu is only divided into four categories without any embedded sites within. Simple design with no complicated info. You can find what you expect from the menu itself.
  • As is always the case with each web site, the consistent design is a key component to smooth navigation without sweating.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This series of websites is pretty great. Covering NYC, LA, San Francisco, and Chicago, these identical websites chronicle parties that are going to have open bars. Simple and to the point, these websites get the job done. The main MyOpenBar page covers NYC and the other cities link off this page.

Intended Audience

These sites are for folks who are looking for parties. They are comfortable using and trusting information found on the Internet and they don't mind showing up to parties where they don't know the host. The site has a feature that will send you a list of the night's happenings to your email address but you have to have SMS functionality on your cell phone. I think you have to send a text to their email address to receive the list.

Usefulness of Content

The usefulness of this content is really what you make of it. I used this site when I was visiting friends in NYC. We made a list of everything happening in our neighborhood and just party-hopped. Some events were really fun and welcoming. Others had guest lists so we were turned away. To make the content useful, you have to approach it with the right attitude.

Consistency of Design

The design is consistent throughout each site and among the different cities. Every page has the familiar blog-look: a column containing the listings and ads on the right side. Each entry has the vital info for the location and event. Very thorough.


It is easy to navigate these sites. You can choose what day to search by the tags on top of the list. The blog, list, photos, and mobile phone info appear as large links. All the functionality of the site is very apparent from the home page and you are never more than a click away from the home page.

Genius! When will they make one for Austin? I guess when Austin starts having more parties with open bars. Oh well.

Games Magazine Online

This is the website for the monthly magazine Games, as well as the website for World of Puzzles Magazine (although only barely). Games magazine is owned by Kappa Publishing Group, Inc., which is one of the main publishers of puzzle periodicals.

Intended Audience:

· People who are interested in puzzles or games and would like to subscribe to a magazine

· People who currently subscribe to Games or World of Puzzles and are looking for information about how to contact the magazine or publication information

· Those who wish to place advertisements in the magazine

Usefulness of Content:
The site does not provide much information. One could find out when new issues of each magazine are due to hit the newsstands, but most of the site contains general information about the magazine's purpose and their reviews of other people's games, and there are only a couple of puzzle examples, which are nothing like the real puzzles published in Games or World of Puzzles. Some parts of the site appear to be under construction still, such as the “Store” page, or do not include important items, such as the “Subscribe” page, which does not even mention World of Puzzles (World of Puzzles does not have its own site – the website the magazine directs users to is the Games website: The “Links” page is rather useful, though, as a collection of resources for puzzlers of any level to use.

Consistency of Design:

The colors are okay, if not very interesting. The font is easy to read, and the text is not difficult to understand or confusing. At times, links are denoted with blue text, other times with red (as on the “Resources” page) – there are other inconsistencies on the site. Some links are not marked as links at all – on the “Archives” page, the text in red is actually a link, but there are no clues (such as underlining) to convey this information to the user. The “Resources” page lists solving guides (only two), but further puzzle guides and resources are listed under “Links.” It seems that two pages have been set up where only one was needed. If the designer was concerned that different users might use a different vocabulary to find what they need, s/he should at least place some of the links in both places.

Ease of Navigation:

One problem I noticed almost immediately is that there is no way back to the home page of without using the back button on the web browser. Even the main logo/heading of the website is not a link back to the homepage. If there were any other way to navigate back to home, this would not be such a problem, but the user is left with no means to start their visit over again. I find this very frustrating, since the home page is the only place on the site to learn the publication date of the next issue of each magazine. Several of the links in the side navigation bar take the user to another site, the site of Games’ parent company, Kappa Publishing Company, Inc., When the user is navigated away from Games’ site, there is no option to return to, except, again, the back button on the browser. Another problem I had with this site is that several of the links appear to be dead: both the “Store” and “Contact Us” page brought up 404 File Not Found messages. If the site is under construction, there should be a mock page up that will tell the user that the page is in progress.

Hyde Park Theater

Intended audience: Austin residents or visitors who are interested in theater.

Usefulness of content: This site has everything you would need to know if you were considering seeing a play at the Hyde Park Theater. The homepage includes information about whatever is currently playing at the theater (right now, the show that’s playing is being produced by another company, so the homepage has the name of the show and a link to the other company’s site), and the links to the left direct the reader to all other information that he or she would need, including the calendar, information about the theater, etc.

Consistency of design: Some of the pages are set up a little differently, but the design is mostly consistent. The links on the left remain constant on every page, and every page, except for the calendar, has a black background with white text.

Ease of navigation: Navigating the site is very simple. The links are clearly placed and named, and they remain constant on every page, so navigating from one page to another is easy. Also, the “contact us” link is at the bottom of every page, except for the calendar. That link takes you to the staff page with a list of the staff members and their phone numbers and email addresses, so anyone who has a question can quickly and easily be directed to the right page.


Intended Audiences
Anyone who is interested in art or is involved or wish to be involved with Austin Museum of Art. So this site doesn't only directed to patrons but also to the museum's employees, volunteers, educators and schools, and art students.

Usefulness of Content
The site surprisingly includes a lot of information from standard museum's information such as history, hour of operations, exhibitions, and calendar to various educational programs that the museum offers to even information regarding the museum's own art school.

Consistency of Design
  • The site has the same interface for each page with the museum's logo on the top most part of the page then the main menu and the sub-headers under it with the search function and museum's address on the right. The colors used are consistent with the museum's logo with red, gray and yellow as the main color.
  • In the Calendar/Event section, all of the 6 sub-headers lead to different area within the same page except one, Special Events, which leads to a different page. I'm also not sure why they need to have a new page for special events eventhough they already add upcoming events info in their main Calendar page.
  • In the Exhibition section, the page is wider than all other pages in the site since the image of the exhibition being shown on the page is a wide image. This is really inconsistent with the design of the rest of the site.

Ease in Navigation

  • There are many futile links in the site. Some links do not lead to anywhere such as in the Facility Rental Section which has info about rental in both branches of the museum listed side-by-side. The headline that stated the two branches' name are clickable, but when I clicked on it, it didn't lead me anywhere. There are many places in the site that are like this, especially regarding information on the two branches which are normally placed side-by-side already so there is no need for an anchor link.
  • Even though the museum has two branches, the calendar section does not specify which event is at which brance of the museum.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Intended Audience
People interested in food and recipes. Subscribers to Gourmet or Bon Apetit magazines.

Usefulness of Content
There is a ton of articles on various food subjects. Lots of recipes. Extended versions of articles form the above magazines. Forums for food discussions. All in all lots of content, all regarding food. One of the best sections is the recipe search (important enough to be in the main banner). Brings up tons of recipes that have been published in either magazine going back more than 10 years. Each recipe found comes up with a descriptive name, date and magazine of publication, user rating, and come other icons for quick reference about the recipe without opening it (such as a wine glass signifying that the recipe includes wine recommendations to go with it). One issue I have is the quantity of ads. Once you leave the front page they even devote part of the primary (top) banner to ad content. The intermingling of ads and content on the right hand side makes me miss content among the ads.

Consistency of Design
Pretty consistent. Same major banner (though it changes color based on the section you are in. The content is always in the center, the ads always on the right, a submenu usually on the left. If there is a bit of inconsistency it has to do with that left menu bar - it changes/appears/disappears and can be confusting.

Ease of Navigation
This is where I have a bit of a problem with the site. They have so many links/menus on some pages that you can become disoriented. The content sometimes presents you with another menu of choices. There are some things that they make very easy - finding a recipe. As mentioned earlier the right hand side of the page sometimes intermingles content with ads making it easy to miss them.

Tzivos Hashem

Oct. 24, 2007

Tzivos hashem kids zone

1. Intended audience:
Male and female children below the age of 12-13 (before they go through their bar/Bat Mitzvah). They are either learning about Judaism because of family/friend influence or have already committed to the Jewish faith. These children are digital natives and therefore expect an interactive experience on the web.

2. Usefulness of content: The content of the website is relevant to the inquiries and needs of the intended audience.

Involving kids offline and online:

My Tzivosh hashem is a point reward system that encourages members to do a mitzvot (good deed). It promotes helping others and being more active in the community.

Using interactive means of teaching:

The Itche Kadoozsy show for example discusses topics about Judaism in a show and tell format rather than expecting the kids to read the information. Another example is the Noah's arch page that changes the image of the religion as one of animal sacrifice and focusing on the high value that Judaism places on animals as well as conservation efforts that can be done to save them. It is interactive in the sense that the kids are learning but also interacting with images and hearing sounds and ultimately feeling better about Judaism stance on animals. Games and activities are also available online for the kid to entertain and learn with.

3. Consistency of design:
The design of the website is consistent in the navigation bar and the book like title bar at the top of each page (besides the main page). The colors do change throughout the website which is good to keep the child interested. Sound is also available throughout the website as well as an all sections drop down menu on the left.

4. Ease of Navigation:

The navigation is good enough. All of the important navigation tabs are above the line of the page. Their is no search option that could make finding what one wants hard and frustrating. The mute for the sound is also unavailable. The drop down menu of all sections blocks the navigation menu for the specific pages as well like for the holidays page.

bug me not

Intended Audience
People surfing the web who, for whatever reason, don't want to create their own login for websites that want you to login, viz. The New York Times.

Usefulness of Content
I've had all success with bugmenot. What you do is, when you come across a site that wants you to log in before reading its content--usually a news agency of some sort--you go to bugmenot and give them the URL of the offending site. Then you hit "Get Logins," and ideally your results will be login names and passwords for you to try at the site. Like I said, I've had all success, but perhaps if you were trying to get into a really obscure site there might not be any logins yet. It's a collection that's created by its users, so bugmenot is just the repository, not the generating agent. That's why usernames you end up with for browsing the Times are fequently "whyohwhy" (my current one) or "bob72." Another great feature is that after you use a login you tell bugmenot whether or not it worked, so it keeps up-to-date stats about the success rate of each login.

Consistency of Design
Very simple, very consistent. Intuitive red-for-no and green-for-yes success buttons are a great idea.

Ease of Navigation
Also very simple and easy. The purpose of the site contributes greatly to this--it's only trying to accomplish one thing, so it's very simple. I love bugmenot.


Lifehack defined: "The term life hack refers to productivity tricks that programmers devise and employ to cut through information overload and organize their data." -wikipedia is blog which offers daily tips intended to help people better organize their time and life.

Intended audience: Yanked from their own FAQ page, "think of Lifehacker as self-help for geeks." Most of the entries tend to be tech related and include how to better navigate as well as use the internet.

Usefulness of content: The site is constantly updating itself with new posts as well as comment feedback which in ways is more helpful than the actual post. Since it is an aggregation of information the usefulness of each post can be hit or miss. Overall you can find something of interest. What I found, for me particularly, is that I would spend time reading about all these cool tips and still not get work done because I was messing about online.

Consistency of design: It is in a blog format so the posts are centered and truncated with a "more" link to open up the rest of the post and to read the comments. The site's font use is a mess, they use sans serif, serif, and ALL CAPS. This inconsistency causes my eyes to get tired pretty quickly and I want to just move on. They are currently displaying ads for Comedy Central and these ads are animated and flickering which distracts me heavily because I am already having a difficult time focusing on the text itself!

Ease of navigation: While I really like the content of this site I found it difficult to navigate. First I was looking for their "about" page and in the past I've usually been able to find web site's link at the top of pages but this site had it buried at the bottom. This wouldn't have been a problem except that the site uses it's vertical scroll bar very liberally. As stated before the links at the top of the page are in all caps which annoyed me from the start.

Last words: All in all though the content of the site is interesting and ultimately helpful. As I'm attempting to be more "tech savvy" (that wasn't too lame was it?), I am finding that the site is of use.

Similar sites which might be of interest:
43 Folders
Hipster PDA

Los Angeles Public Library

1) intended audience;

The entire population of Los Angeles! The LAPL system has as many as 71 different libraries, and Los Angeles has one of the most diverse populations in the country, so the website has to be extremely broad with a lot of information to cater to a wide array of patrons.

2) usefulness of content;

The content is very useful for all different types of users. Of course it contains the catalog and online access to their databases. But the home page of the website also highlights some of the more popular and well established collections, such as the Photo Collection. E-Media is also a prominent link available on the home page, which includes e-books, music, audio books, etc. ready for download right from the website. Information about events and exhibits for all ages (and those geared toward the spanish speaking community are accessible. There's information for interested volunteers and donors, and of course there is a chat feature now available for further questions to be asked right from your computer. You can even reserve one of their computers from home (although why you would do that when you already have a computer with which to do so, I don't know), and you can check your account and renew items, or even pay your overdue fines from online.

3) consistency of design;

The design somewhat consistent with some areas of uniqueness. Headings are all in blue and supporting text is in black with an easy to read font. A couple of the links from the home page take you to special locations in which the online presence is a bit different than what you find on their home page or other major links. For instance, clicking on teens, kids, or adult literacy will take you a splash page and then their home page that looks considerably different from the main home page.

4) ease of navigation

It's pretty easy to navigate through the home page and zero in on what you need. There is a nice visible search engine right at the top to quickly search the catalog. Since our patrons are so used to search engines on computers these days, I thought it was a terrific way to do a quick search for those not too familiar with OPAC. The teen page is cute but a little to busy, making it more difficult to navigate through. The children's page however is cute without being distracting, it's use of blocks and large print text make it easy to navigate through. I had a bit of trouble with the databases. A little bit too much info. is squeezed onto that first page when you enter that section. They need to make the print a bit larger and easier to see in this section, it's intimidating/overwhelming when you first enter.

GOOD magazine

I went to this "green" fashion show this weekend, and one of the booths was good magazine. So I thought that I would take this opportunity to find out more about Good Magazine through its website.

Intended Audience:
Twenty somethings interested in their carbon foot print, global warming, politics, consumerism, the arts and carbon alternative lifestyles. Non-SUV drivers.

Usefulness of Content:
From browsing through the website I found the writing to be fairly passionate and interesting but the way it is displayed to the user seems to assume that you already know something about the organization.
This is frustrating to me because the name itself is obtuse and hard to understand. After first seeing their products (at the fashion show), I felt like there was a big inside hipster joke being played at the fashion show and I was the only one not in on it.
Upon reflection I think the content is written to spark conversation and promote different ways of living in the modern world. The magazine title itself is made to spark the average joe's curiosity "what is good magazine?"

However, I think it is fool hardy for any non profit to be hard to understand (on purpose) because they are often small and run on show string budgets.
I found the content on the Good Magazine website very hard to understand.

Ease of Navigation:
Navigational elements listed on the website are numbered but it is difficult to understand what the purpose of ordering these pages was. At first I thought this was a metaphor based navigation design where the pages of the web content were numbered like the pages of a regular magazine. If this is what the web designers intended, it wasn't very successful.

Consistency of Design:
The design is very "urban outfitters" in its color and design philosophy. The rainbow color and smallish serif font are used in concert through out the site. Next the designers chose a sans serif font for the header information. This is unconventional which can be good, however in this application I do not think it is good. Navigating away from the homepage the are fewer pictures and more black and white text. This is also not used to its greatest advantage. I like the low-fi design concept with simple html but the is much more that should have been done to make this page more usable. For example, making the body text sans serif and larger, choosing a simple color scheme and making the navigation as un-order-lists with larger menus.

Adobe Kuler

Intended audience: People who work with color and design, including web designers, interior decorators, artists, designers in a corporate setting, event planners, and more.

Usefulness of content: I think the Kuler website would be a very useful and enjoyable tool for all of the above groups, but it is of particular helpfulness to artistically-challenged people like myself. When designing a website’s color scheme, the sixteen million colors available can be a little overwhelming. But thanks to this site, you can view user-generated five-color palettes that are named, ranked, commented, adjustable and downloadable. And the best part is that they are tagged with words describing their visual qualities, be it seasons, emotions, locations, themes, or just names of the colors themselves. This makes the entire database of color palettes searchable by a multitude of terms, a huge advantage to those of us more comfortable with words than RGB and CMYK values. However, these are certainly available on the Create page, as well as a very interesting color-wheel tool that implements color-rule algorithms.

Consistency of design: The site uses a black background that makes the color palettes stand out beautifully. The colors are laid out in a horizontal row of squares that fills the screen when clicked on. Most text is in white, and the kuler logo at the top of the page is understated.

Ease of navigation: The site layout is very simple, consisting of a searchable and ranked color palette database, a palette creation page with a color wheel tool, a community forum page, and a list of links. It is fairly easy to navigate around the site using the left-hand navigation bar. Within the Create page, however, use of the browser’s Back button takes you entirely out of the site and back to the page from which you entered. Also, the location of RGB values corresponding to palettes is not immediately obvious. You have to go into the “Make changes to this theme” page to find them. This avoids cluttered design on the color palette display, but the location should be more clearly indicated.

5th Post: Fox News

Intended audience:
* A more conservative person who is interested in US and world news

Usefulness of content:
The content is very useful and provides the type of content its users are looking for. A reader could choose from US news, world news, business, health, science, entertainment, opinion, etc.... Also, the front page always has the latest breaking news to keep its readers as informed as possible as quickly as possible.

Consistency of design:
Very consistent:
* main navigation bar at the top with categories
*within categories, navigation bar on the side for local navigation
*orange title bar
*blue subtitle bars
*blue writing emphasizing importance
*always a most read/most emailed box on the bottom right

Ease of navigation:
The consistency of the navigation bar at the top of the page, and the local navigation on the side allows for easy navigation of the site. The categories and subtopics you are looking for always easy to see and readily available.


Intended audience

News viewers in Austin and central Texas.

Usefulness of content

  • The most useful news items, top stories, weather and traffic, are featured prominently on the main page. However, the entertainment section is given equal prominence on the far right hand side of the page and is even highlighted in green. This is puzzling.
  • Today, a red flag warning for various counties scrolls across the top of the page, which is very useful content, justifying the use of motion on the page.
  • At least a third of the page is devoted to ads, which is too many ads. What's worse, there are ads which look like actual content ("Austin Gas Prices"). I know that they have to make a few bucks off of the site, but that's bordering on unscrupulous as they are tricking viewers into clicking on the links.
  • I have mixed feelings about the video footage featured on the site. This seems to be very popular with news sites nowadays, but my experience has been that people surf news sites while at work, and you don't want your coworkers or boss to catch you watching a video on your computer at work. So, I tend to avoid the video footage unless it's something that you really have to see, which the majority of news does not fall into. Also, there's a bigger time investment with watching videos, as opposed to text that you can skim.
  • Further down the page, there is too much content (both headlines and ads) to discern what is useful.

Consistency of design

  • The strangest thing here is the CW entertainment tab and bar in green on the right hand side of the page, which feels tacked on and out of place. You can't help but feel that its raison d'etre is to generate ad revenue.
  • Other than that, the pages have a consistent blue and blue-white color scheme, which is somewhat plain.
  • The top navigation bar is consistent throughout the site pages.
  • The site aspect which most hurts consistency is the ads. They are woven into the pages, perhaps to combat banner blindness, but their sizes, color schemes, and content vary wildly, and this cripples any attempt at good design.

Ease of navigation

  • The pages take an eternity to load, so you click on a link, and wait...
  • The pages continuously refresh themselves, which, combined with the previous bullet, is beyond annoying. And the absolute worst scenario is when you are trying to navigate somewhere but the page is busy refreshing. Argh.
  • On the brighter side, the navigation bar across the top with pop-up menus provides easy access to most important areas of the site.
  • The logo in the upper left hand side of the page should also serve as a link back to the home page, but it's not.
  • The search box is somewhat hidden because it's small and plain. However, it is in the default location, the upper right hand corner, so it's easy to find, and a search for "allergies" gives good results.

Exploding Dog

Intended Audience:
  • Anyone who wants to send the artist, Sam Brown, a title, and have him draw a picture from the title and post it on his website.
  • Anyone who enjoys off-beat artwork featuring robots, dogs, and empty space-like landscapes.
  • Anyone shopping for t-shirts, books, or other items featuring that artwork.
  • I think this site probably gets a lot of traffic from users that just happened to stumble across it, or through word of mouth (although I just learned that his drawings were featured in Wired a while back, so maybe it's more well-known than I thought).
Usefulness of Content:

  • The content probably not useful in the larger sense of being 'necessary,' but it is a very colorful site that is good for cheering you up, making you laugh, or killing some time.
  • If you are looking for a unique and cool gift for someone, this would also be a useful site.
Consistency of Design:

  • The artwork pages are all very consistent; when you click on a title, the image comes up with the title of the piece above it, a link to order exploding dog merchandise below, and the exploding dog logo.
  • The other pages, like the store and the "everything else" link are all pretty simple and consistent, too. Even though they are much more dense and have less white space than the main page, the exploding dog logo stays constant, and the font of the rest of the text remains the same.
  • Overall, with the exception of the addition of a few more links in the sidebar on the left, this site has not changed its design very much since I first started reading it a few years ago.

Ease of Navigation:

  • Very easy. Links to pictures are on the right, arranged by date and title, and the few other links are on the left. It might be confusing to some people that all the text is either black or gray (denoting a link that's been selected), but everything that's a link is consistently underlined.
  • The search feature is nice and clear, though it is not immediately obvious that the archives are found under "everything else." What's more, the "everything else" link (on my monitor and browser, at least) is below the jump, though if you're scrolling down to see more than a couple of days' worth of pictures, you'll see it easily.
  • Finally, it is great that the exploding dog logo underneath each picture links back to the homepage, so you can just click on the title you want to see, scroll down the picture, and go back to the homepage for another title.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

New Orleans Regional Transit Authority

This is the website for public transportation information for New Orleans.

Intended Audience:

  • Residents of New Orleans
  • Visitors/potential visitors to New Orleans
  • Employees of NORTA
  • Those interested in tracking the renovation process of the streetcar/bus system

Usefulness of Content:

I ended up at this site because I am planning my belated honeymoon, and in trying to choose a hotel, I have been looking at the streetcar and bus routes to see where good access points are. The RTA is trying to fulfill many different needs. The RTA uses the site to provide specific information for visitors: specific routes to take from the airport to hotels, day-pass rate information, tips on what to do in New Orleans, as well as route information.

The site also provides updates that are important to residents of the New Orleans area. These include news about the renovation process, and announcements about when different lines are reopening. It also includes information about job opportunities, fare information, and evacuation notices.

Consistency of Design:

The design of the site is very consistent: the main navigation bar on the left and the logo at the top are available on every page (with the exception of .pdf files made available on the site). All important notices are headed with a red text box, with white text. The colors of the site are relaxing and simple, but the site still looks professional and clean. I particularly like the fact that the website is centered in my browser, and the main content area is relatively narrow. I was also impressed with the fact that the site listed the day’s date, and that news items are announced with a date attached, so that users know how recent the announcements were.

Ease of Navigation:

Perhaps it’s due to the extreme scrutiny the site probably receives since Hurricane Katrina, but the site is extremely easy to use. Every page contains a heading that describes where the user is in the hierarchy of the site. The site has multiple ways to find interior pages, and it also references other sites or documents, such as the city-assisted evacuation PDF document. The language of names of the links is precise and easy for a beginning user, or New Orleans visitor, to understand.

The Sound of Young America:

Intended Audience: TSoYA is a public radio show and podcast that serves up weekly (for the most part! Sometimes they can fit two in per week) interviews with comedians, writers, musicians... basically, all the cool people you might expect to show up on a youth oriented public radio show. They don't discriminate, however! But with guests like David Cross and They Might Be Giants, they do tend to skew towards a younger crowd.

The majority of the site is focused on comedy, however- besides the interviews, there are several scripted "radio play" type podcasts (there's probably a correct term for this I'm not using... playcasts? Eh, whatever) that manage to bring the funny. Overall, I would say the site is directed towards a younger crowd interested in "alternative" comedy, with the other interviews being kind of a further incentive.

Usefulness of Content: Well, you aren't doing research if you're visiting this site. But it can be quite entertaining and funny! It is, as the home page describes it, "A public radio show about things that are awesome."

Consistency of Design: Check. The grey background and black text work relatively well together, and the navigation bar at the top of the screen stays in place to help you get around. Even the forums look similar to the rest of the site, which isn't always the case.

Ease of Navigation: Considering the amount of content offered, it is surprisingly easy to get around the site! Past shows are organized by date, however, and there isn't any way to search by guest. That just means you have to browse a bit more, so it isn't too much trouble.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Torque Market Intelligence


Intended Audience:
Organizations desiring to hire a market research company or seeking information on various techniques used to obtain market intelligence.

Usefulness of Content:
The website provides useful information on Torque Market Intelligence and the market intelligence industry, in general. Visitors to the website can find helpful summaries describing Torque’s services, its major clients, its business partners, its recent news events, its requirements for job applicants, its contact information, and a map to its Toronto office. In particular, the “Torque Market Intelligence Toolkit” on its website does a good job of showcasing the firm’s knowledge about its industry, as well as highlighting the particular services it offers.

Consistency of Design:
The design of the website is very consistent. The homepage contains an effective attention-grabbing photograph of a circle containing all white chairs, except for one chair that is orange. The orange chair presumably symbolizes the unique nature of Torque and its services. The website designer does a good job of reminding visitors of this unspoken message by including the lone orange chair on each web page. Orange, white, black, and grey fonts are consistently used on each page to emphasize the same message. The website is also consistent in its use of web pages that require little to no scrolling. This is a great design technique, but at times, it is possible to miss information on some of the web pages that actually require some scrolling (e.g., some may miss the testimonials on the “Experience” tab that appear below the company logos.)

Ease of Navigation:
Overall, the website is very well-organized and easy to navigate. It contains a simple five category menu at the top of each page. The main web page for “Market Intelligence Services” and the “Torque Market Intelligence Toolkit” links to approximately 17 separate pages that contain no more than two paragraphs of descriptive text. This provides a lot of information without cluttering the screen or overwhelming the potential reader. I would offer the following critiques that sometimes hinder navigation and the site overall: Several links in the website open up in new windows, which does not always seem necessary and can result in several windows being open at the same time. Also, the orange and grey text in the website can sometimes be difficult to read, particularly when it appears at the bottom of a page because of the designer’s use of a grey fade in the background. There are also some instances where you expect to find a hyperlink and others places where there are unexpected hyperlinks. The website designer also seems to assume that visitors will know that clicking on the Torque Market Intelligence logo will return them to the homepage. It would probably be better to include a “Home” link for those who are less website-savvy.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ten Thousand Villages

Intended Audience:

  • Shoppers-Probably female more than male
  • Someone looking for a fairly-priced, unique gift for themself or a friend/family
  • This site does not cater to someone who is looking for something that can be found in J.C. Penney

Usefulness of Content:

  • Useful for those who want to find a gift that is unique and don't have time to go shopping around
  • Also useful for artists of third world or economically disadvantaged countries because it allows them a bigger audience and a guarentee of a fair price

Consistency of Design:

  • Extremely Consistent-Tags at top, center never change no matter where you are located in the site
  • Negative: The unique aspect of this site, something that might draw more customers in, is that the items it sells are made by people in third world countries at fair prices-something that otherwise they might not have the opportunity to do but this is not immediately obvious on the openning page of the site

Ease of Navigation:

  • Pages are short so not a lot of scolling, if any, is necessary
  • Because the steps the user took to each point are always shown directly beneath the head of the page it is easy to move back as many steps as you want
  • Separated into clearly labelled categories but can also find items by atist or country instead
  • Negative: There is nothing to choose that simply displays all the items in a long list-sometimes this is a good thing if someone is not precisely sure what they are looking for

Casa De Luz [a gathering place and vegan dining in Austin]

Intended audience
People who are interested in healthy life style, including diet and exercises
(vegan, yoga practitioners, etc).

Usefulness of content
Useful, but some information is not organized well.
The archive for the past daily menu served at the restaurant is one of the problems. It has no recipe. Thinking about the intended target, it may be a good idea that more recipes are introduced. They are selling their cookbook so they may not want to reveal the details. However, it is possible and appreciated, for example, showing the list of foods, basic guide for vegan cooking (e.g., how to prepare soup stock for vegans). Also it is strange that only one meal is categorized as “Mexican Lunch, “ but other 360 meals are classified as “uncategorized.” It is not kind to viewers if they really want to appeal the variety of their meals.

Consistency of design
Consistent, the color choice is sophisticated, matched to the brand image of Casa De Luz. Font size is also appropriate.

Ease of navigation
Generally easy. However, it may viewers confused that some information is listed in several places, such as “Live Music” and “Macrobiotics.” An interesting point in this website is that some archive pages, “Daily Menu (under ‘Dining at Casa’),” “Live Music,” and “Casa De Luz blog” are linked to W3C Markup Validation Service (under ‘Meta, Valid XHTML’). Viewers can see if the site is validated and in fact, “Live” and “blog’ are validated, but “Menu” is invalidated with 171 errors. The web designer / owner seem to be aware of web accessibility, then, why Casa De Luz leaves them alone without corrections? (Also I am curious why not all the pages are linked to the W3C page.) In addition, as of now I do not know if viewers should be accessible from the webpages to the W3C validation page like Casa De Luz, although webmasters should make sure of it before uploading the site.

Gemini Ink: Literary arts and ideas. Classes, performance, community. San Antonio, TX.

Gemini Ink: Literary arts and ideas. Classes, performance, community. San Antonio, TX.

Intended Audience
• Members or would-be members of the San Antonio literary community
• People interested in attending literary readings
• Potential donors

Usefulness of Content
The homepage includes information on Autograph Series, which features a very popular Trinity University English professor. Also a link to Fall 2007 catalog of course offerings and a sampling of courses. Drop-down menus across the top on the home page direct you to more detailed information about classes, other Gemini Ink programs (Writers in the Classroom, etc.)
Overall I think the website could include more information about Gemini Ink’s broader mission, especially since they have been shifting their focus from serving more advanced writers to drawing in more beginners from the general public. This is suggested by the inclusion of a course on college application essay writing in the sampling of courses included on the homepage. It would probably be tricky to find the right language to express this shift appropriately --- but Gemini Ink is staffed by writers. I think the bar of unidentified photos suggests some ambivalence about this – should a prospective student know who these people are? San Antonians will likely recognize John Philip Santos and Naomi Shihab Nye--and not having lived in San Antonio long myself, perhaps there are other well-known local figures included—but other figures are less easily identifiable unless you’re already familiar with literary figures.

Ease of Navigation
The animated logo to the left is annoying because one of the images is a bullet-pointed list that looks like it could be a list of links and isn’t.
The site uses drop-down menus across the top, except for “Events Calendar” which takes you directly to the events calendar. On the subordinate pages, a menu bar appears on the left-hand side with the menu for the relevant subcategory.

Consistency of Design
The website uses colors well, with a particular color assigned to each subordinate page. The homepage might have too much color, though, and the text section of the homepage looks cluttered and amateurish to me.
I like the bar of photos across the top of the pages and want to steal this for my own website, but I think these photos also suggest some ambivalence about that shift –However, I think those should be interactive in some way – perhaps you could mouse across them to learn who they are and/or click on each image to learn more about their relationship to Gemini Ink. For example, is that Grace Paley in the homepage bar, and if so, why is she there? What about Margaret Atwood? Is John Philip Santos teaching this season? People with long-term familiarity with Gemini Ink’s programs will know that Gemini Ink sponsored several related events featuring Atwood, but a new viewer might assume she would be one of the instructors in the present or coming season. Each season’s catalog contains photos of that season’s authors, but you have to click through to get the PDF of the catalog to find those.

Generally a useful site, though it could do a better job of highlighting its overall mission and identifying the noted authors affiliated with the organization.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Food Network

Target Audience
  • fans of the TV shows on the Food Network channel that want to know more about the shows
  • people who like to cook and are looking for new recipes to try out
  • visitors looking for ideas for specific holidays & occasions

Usefulness of Content
  • can find out about the shows on the Food Network, including the TV schedule & the recipes that host made on certain days during their shows
  • can search for recipes for just about anything you want & also gives ideas on what to make for special holidays & occasions
  • also have a section on how to eat healthy

Consistency of Design
  • same logo & tabs on every page
  • separates sections of information well with different colors, but doesn't make it overwhelming or too cluttered
  • lots of pictures which is good because people always like to see what it is they are cooking
  • bright colors make the content inviting

Ease of Navigation
  • have the same tabs at the top of the page no matter where you are in the site so you can always easily navigate to any section you want
  • can go to sections from the tabs or you can search for recipes or topics at the top of the page--easy to find so people don't have to search for it


Intended audience
Consumers, Origins' employees and everyone who is interested in Origins

Usability of content
Origins' web site is mainly a shopping site so its content is similar to other shopping site with information about the products, customer's account, shipping information, etc. The site also includes information about the brand and the company and other information for its employees. The site has 5 different versions for 5 countries from US, England, Taiwan, Korea, to Germany.

Consistency of design
The design of site is very consistent with its brand. The main colors in the site are natural colors like green or brown which reflect the natural image of the brand. The main graphic in the site are images of leaves and flowers which again illustrate the brand's image. The site is divided based on the type of product from skin care, bath&body, hair care, to fragrance and etc. Each section is represent by different color theme. The main format of each page in the site is the same with the same headers in all the pages and the menu for the page of the left side. All in all, the site is very consistent both in the design of the site itself and its consistence with the brand's image.

Ease of navigation
The site is very easy to navigate with the same headers throughout the site. The problems I found are first about the naming of each section, for example, the cosmetics' section was named "Color" which might not exactly be the right word to represent cosmetics. Another problem might be that the site groups all these various information under "at your service" tab which not only includes shopping info such as shipping info, account info, security, and order status but also info about Origins, employment, consumer awareness, discontinued items, to its special program for makeup artist. I think this grouping of all these information under one tab is rather confusing and some of these info can be put under other tab that more represents what it is.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I found it! The most annoying website in the world: DesignKlicks. According to the FAQ, DesignKlicks is a forum for photographers, designers, fashionistas, and other artists to show a personal vision to the wider public for free. These images and ideas are usually locked up in glossy fashion and art magazines that are not necessarily available to regular people for browsing. In my opinion, it is an interesting site with lots of cool content but is a accessibility and navigation nightmare.

The text is available in German or English, though not everything is translatable. Some text stays in German. There are little squares that you can click to change the background color of the site, which I think it unnecessary.

Intended Audience

People interested in new aesthetic ideas. Or extremely patient fans of high photography. I think the whole point of people posting to the site is that you can rank how much you like the photos. The winners get special recognition and less-liked photos get taken down.

Usefulness of Content

In the grand scheme, not terribly useful. But the photos are pretty. Good for keeping up with new ideas and seeing new artists.

Consistency of Design

If "irritating" can be a design quality where consistency is measured, then yes the site is consistent.


The navigation in this site is not like anything I've seen. What I want to talk about are the "top," "index," "scape," and "cloud" navigational elements. The top view shows all recent photos in large format. This is where you vote on things you like. The index view shows thumbnails of many photos all shoved up next to each other. The scape view is one of those maddening floating-in-space bubbles of pictures where you just shoot from one photo to the next looking at things by moving your mouse and clicking. I have seen this technology employed with words and concepts that are related (like a virtual thesaurus) where things are connected but floating and you can jump from one related concept to the next. The photos don't really seem related though so you are just jumping around. Lastly, the cloud view shows a bunch of tags with associated pictures arranged in a purple cloud.

The other links on the site are in German so navigation is tougher still for me.

I have to say that I enjoyed just being lost and looking at photographs. But if I had to use this site for anything, I would be pissed.


I understand we live in the digital/print cultural era; maybe that's why all the more we need this type of guideline in handwriting.

1. Targeted Audience:

Those who are interested in improving handwriting or in handwriting techniques or history
Those who are interested in the design of the website pertaining to handwriting

2. Usefulness of Content:

I find it very useful in that it teaches what method of holding a pen while writing or the position of the pen in my hand for a certain type of writing, as well as my posture that affects the penmanship. For calligraphy, the pen is rested "atop the knuckle of the forefinger" according to the site. The photos and illustrations on each appropriate webpage for each technique clarify the content in a clearer sense as well. Though this is not panacea to my squiggly writing, I think this web source gives the good start how to better improve my handwriting.

3. Consistency of Design:

On the top of each page on the site shows the antique look and feel of paper design on which handwriting is written throughout the site. The link for each pertaining topic consistently appears on the left side of the page upon clicking any link of your interest: handwriting improvement/joy of flex, I/joy of flex, II/calligraphy tips/handwriting history with the picture of fountain pens on the upper right side throughout. Color scheme is quite simple and neat. The color is not 100% white but a look of a paper color almost. This color does not change page by page but remains the same throughout the site.

4. Ease of Navigation:

This web source is not complicated as is often the case with myriad sites on the internet. There are no embedded links in each topical link. The site is just composed of five simple links that do not impose on hierarchical arrangement. One thing though, each page tends to be a bit longer than one page so that I had to scroll down quite a bit to see the content. On the bottom of the page, there was not any link that directs users to the next page or previous one. But there's the link that will lead you to the top on the bottom of the page. Other than those extra scrolls, I think it is very easy to navigate around.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Intended Audience
People interested in both free web-based programs, especially uncommonly supported types.
This site has deployed options that other sites charge a monthly fee a personal online database....
Usefulness of Content
Very useful! It offers not only the typical online applications (word-processor, spreadsheet, presentation), but also allows users to design databases, Customer Relations Management tools, Project Management; personalized surveys, etc. all for FREE.
It is not only beneficial to those looking for free application, but also to those interested in deploying a dynamic data repository that allows updates and reports on the fly.
Design Consistency
The layout and color-choices remind me of Google. On a similar plain, the user is not bombarded with info. It has a toolbar that stays the same within an application, though it is not completely intuitive; that toolbar might have options that, when clicked, completely remove the user from the application and replaces the application toolbar with one that references that application, but is completely different than the prio. Each application looks pretty different from any other, even within the toolbar area. Though, in that defense, if a user has used a similar app on their home-pc, he/she is likely familiar with the options and layout.
Worst of all, it offers no consistent ‘anything’; it should at least leave the ZOHO logo in the upper left, that links back to the user’s main-page…but no. If you are lucky enough to see the logo, try to click it…uh oh, it’s not a link, just a pretty picture.
The closest thing to sanity I have found within the site, is that “My Account” is on most pages and clicking that will get you to a normal navigation bar where you can get to the ‘home’ area where you can select new applications and such.
Ease of Use
Doesn’t require any new skills for using the applications themselves
Applications where you design your own interface are drag & drop
In addition to the crazy navigation noted under ‘Design Consistency’, even though some applications are in the same domain (, some require the user to develop a new logon/password to access those areas. That can quickly limit a user’s patience. Imagine having to have a separate logon to Google for your personalized homepage; email; etc. That will not keep customers around very long.


Intended Audience
People who need to fly somewhere but are more invested in finding the cheapest flight than any particular airline loyalty. Cheapies. Me.

Usefulness of Content
I think Kayak is pretty great. I use it as sort of a Wikipedia for flight prices--what Kayak does is produce an amalgam of amalgams, if you will. Instead of searching Orbitz, and then Expedia, and then Travelocity to find the cheapest flight, you can use Kayak, which will search all of those for you, and then link you to whichever site has the cheapest flight (sometimes it's the airline's direct web site). Kayak also allows you to easily tweak the displayed results according to stops, airlines, departure times, airports, layovers, and all kinds of other neat stuff, in addition to price. Another neat feature is the chart, which can either be helpful or give you hives---it shows trends in fares for your chosen destination over the past 90 days. Theoretically this will help you decide if it's a good time to buy or not, but usually it just makes me sad that I didn't decide to buy my tickets three months ago.

Design Consistency
Kayak doesn't look like any other flight search site, mostly because it's so plain. I appreciate this. Also, you get realtime filtering, which negates any need for clicking around through multiple pages.

Ease of Navigation
I think Kayak is easy to use, as a reference tool. The only negative going for it is that you can't actually buy the tickets on Kayak--but it never claimed to be a purchasing site. It just does the work for you. Sometimes this stinks because by the time you've selected the flight you want, you follow Kayak to Orbitz or something and then Orbitz is all, hey, that flight isn't available! And then you're totally bummed and you have to start over. But as an aggregate flight searcher (except Southwest, which isn't a member of any flight searchers), Kayak is tops.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Steve Keene is a New York area artist who paints hundreds of identical works everyday, and sells them for next to nothing online and from his studio. Why don't we take a look at his website?

Intended Audience: This one is interesting, because I can't just say "people interested in art." Since Steve Keene sells almost everything he paints, and is insanely prolific, he often gets dismissed by serious art buffs. I first discovered him through his work on album covers for Pavement and The Apples in Stereo, and a lot of his work is focused on music and musicians. So, audience? Maybe people interested in outsider art, and college students looking for a cheap way to decorate their walls.

Usefulness of Content: Pretty useful! There are directions to Steve's studio in Brooklyn, a short biography of the artist, and a page with links to articles written about Keene over the years. There is also, of course, and image gallery- which is actually quite short. Dissapointingly so! There is also an online storefront where you can buy Steve's work, which I'll dicuss in detail later on.

Consistency of Design: It's a well made and simple site. There is a cool flash animation on the first page that shows Steve's assembly line techniques in use. After that, all the pages use black text on a grey background. If there is blue text, it's always a link, which makes things simple. The navigation cluster at the bottom of the page is done in all different colors and Steve's handwriting style, but it's still pretty intuitive.

Ease of Use: This section will focus on the sites online store, which has some issues- some of which were intentional on the part of the artist. Since Steve paints so much, he doesn't put up each item on his site with a picture and price: as stated, his prices are $10 for a small painting, $14 for a large. That's through paypal, and picked at random by Steve and his staff. Plus $8 for shipping!

What the site doesn't mention (and they really should!) is that paying 10 or 14 bucks actually gets you 3 or 4 paintings, of various shape and size. The system itself isn't nearly as rigid as the site would suggest, and what actually takes place is a much better deal. Why not explain on the site?