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Website Review of 4.0 Tutoring, Vail Colorado Tutoring

This is a quick usabilty review of the website of an academic tutoring site. The site is a small site, and I don't have much time right now, so my usual review will be replaced by a simple bullet list of observations.

 


 

Congratulations! This is a free usability review from UsabilityInstitute.com. "Usability" refers to how easy and effective it is to use a Web site. Although it involves how a site looks (graphic artwork), it is primarily concerned with how a site works, what you click on, what happens, and whether the site does its job. Perhaps this review is all you need to improve your site. If that's the case, great. Please mention UsabilityInstitute.com if you talk with others who need help with their site.


 

  Review Comments
 



    Excellent site overall, with usability commensurate to its needs. Only a few usability things of any significance popped out at me:
 

 

  1. Welcome Blurb: Summarize right on the home page the tutoring you specialize in... in a sentence before "4.0 Tutoring was started in 2006.." I see the items in the navigation links, but don't make people guess.
  2. Provide "You Are Here" highlighting of some sort. This means that the navigation links on the right should show which page you are currently looking at. Given your notepad motif, I'd consider an oval that looks like a pencil-drawn loop, surrounding the active item. But motif isn't important. Even a simple arrow will do the job.
  3. Calendar: Explain the calendar widget better, perhaps with a heading... "Use this calendar to plan a time..."??? I'm not sure what it's for... it wouldn't activate for me, probably my security settings.
  4. Lighten the horizontal background crossbars to the lightest they can be yet still achieve the notepad motif. (Background interference is an important usability issue.)
  5. Directions: Looks like you couldn't program the directions destination in the "To" box. Put the explanation above the controls... I missed it.
  6. Links and Page Headings: Some usability folks are adamant that links must result in pages that have identical page names. For example after clicking About Us, the page heading should say "About Us," not "Who We Are." Probably good advice.
  7. Links: Change the resume links to say "Resume of XXX, Resume of YYY, Resume of ZZZ" right below each bio, instead of their names and an intro sentence.
  8. URL: Since you have a complex domain name, list it at the bottom of every page, similarly to the email address.
  9. Bottom Links: I'm not sure you need to repeat the nav links at the bottom of every page since you have them on the right. I think they're a throwback to days when many links were available only graphically in the body of the page, so the bottom links were there as a means to supply text alternatives.
 
  • You also asked, "how we can grow our company through intelligent technology..." Good question but much broader than a free usability review. I'd look at simple techniques such as "Bookmark this page," and "Email a friend." Look at other tutoring sites for ideas. The hot technologies now are blogs, RSS (newsfeeds), and tags. I don't have any instant thoughts on how they would enhance a tutoring site. I could also point you to great webdesign http://funneldesigngroup.com/ and technologies http://www.laszlosystems.com/ (see demos) that I like but it's not clear how it translates to 4.0 success, irrespective of the cost.
 
  • Other than spending lots of money for a great site, I'd have to guess that ideas that center around "community" might be the best bet for tutoring, essentially a social activity. What about synchronous distance tutoring... meaning the instructor is in attendance at the same time, but over the web?
   
  • As far as just plain brainstorming, check out http://tiddlywiki.com/ ... it's a self-contained web file that is like a notepad document that acts like a blog. When fortified as http://ziddlywiki.org/ (with a database and PHP) it can even be publicly edited on a web host but I haven't gotten that far. The whole thing looks to me like the reinvention of the pencil and paper, so maybe it can have some tie-in with the educational world.

    Thanks for requesting a review and good luck, Jack
     

 

Do your hands ache after a day at the keyboard??? This review sponsored by RSIRescue.com ...

 

 

Summation & Next Steps

Overall Rating: Strives / Does the Job Survives / Thrives

Hope this helps and let me know what you think,
Jack Bellis, UsabilityInstitute.com


"My interest in usability arose from the pain and tears of patching the wounds of suffering interface designs with the inadequate bandages of help files and user guides." — Daniel Cohen
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