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Website Review of

Qabiria is a language translation services company with a new website built with Joomla a comprehensive content managment system based on PHP. Its site is a great example of how much of a head start you can get from such a tool... and how little you have to do to achieve basic usability.




Congratulations! This is a free usability review from "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 if you talk with others who need help with their site.

The following three sections provide a general analysis of your website from a relatively quick review. Although Web design is still perceived as a highly creative endeavor, there are many aspects of it that call for standardization and compliance with widely established conventions. Implementing even a few of the ideas below can really improve a site.


  Part 1: Content Basics
    This first section is intended for typical public web sites (for products and corporate information), but also applies for the most part to intranets and software applications that run in a browser. We've been advocating many of these ideas—in the context of general software—since our 1997 book, Computers Stink, but they've been beautifully enumerated for WWW purposes in Steve Krug's book, "Don't Make Me Think."
      Click for explanation State of the Art, a Model for OthersGreat Work!Does the JobI Can HelpUndetermined/Not ExactlyNot Applicable
Hover for explanation
  1. Logo in top left, linked to home I Can Help Shouldn't go to intro page. Cursor should be a hand when hovering.
  2. Tagline Does the Job Probably 'Risolviamo, traduciamo, ricreiamo.' but
needs to be translated to current language.
  3. Welcome blurb I Can Help The first sentence on the welcome page should describe exactly what your specialty is.
  4. Plain wording Does the Job  
  5. No 'happy talk' I Can Help No. "The team at Qabiria warmly welcomes you on board" is extra wording.
  6. Concise wording Does the Job  
  7. Visited pages are distinguished by link color-coding I Can Help No. None of the links within pages (such as Site Map) change from blue to purple.
  8. "Utilities" are easy to find Does the Job Site Map and Contact are easy to find.
  9. Search on all pages, with box and button Does the Job Improve the button. It looks like a text field.
  10. "You Are Here" indicator Undetermined/Not Exactly Dark red bar is not bold enough.
  11. Breadcrumbs' as links State of the Art, a Model for Others  


If you've made it this far, I have a free gift for the first 10 visitors who reply. If you know anyone who's learning to read, email me and I'll send you a free copy of a kid's book I wrote that has just been printed (February 14th, 2007). Please include "Poopy Phonics" in the subject line so I have a chance of recovering it if it goes to my spam folder. For smart mouths everywhere, the book is PoopyPhonics(.com). No strings attached, but if you like it, consider posting a review to —Thanks, Jack

—No spam, no emails, no private info given out—


Part 2: Visual Design: Fonts, Colors, Layout, Basic Interaction Design, and Accessibility
As we read in a graphic artist's ad, "Technology makes it work but art makes it sell," and you should take heed. We're not graphic artists here at Uinst, but we know good art when we see it and the common denominators that separate good pages from bad are clear. Look at the top sites and you'll see they spell out the following criteria.
  Click for explanation State of the Art, a Model for OthersGreat Work!Does the JobI Can HelpUndetermined/Not ExactlyNot Applicable
Hover for explanation

Sans-serif fonts

Undetermined/Not Exactly Hmmm... is it time to remove this criteria? The site is made from a professional template, and I notice that IE7 seems to anti-alias text, so the serif font doesn't seem quite as bad as in the past. And, because it's a erudite site, serifs, as on academic sites, seem more in the mood.

Appropriate background color

Does the Job  
Appropriate color hues Does the Job  
Visual representation of the information hierarchy Does the Job  
Conservative quantity of colors Does the Job  
Text sizes are "relative" Undetermined/Not Exactly Interesting. Even though the site has sizing buttons right in the header, the IE7 menu functions to change the text size don't work. I
Anti-aliased graphics Does the Job  
Graphics' file size doesn't slow navigation Does the Job  
"Alt tags" used well Not Applicable Not a factor.
Links don't just say "Click Here" Does the Job  
A style sheet (CSS) is used Does the Job  


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


Part 3: Genuine Value: Useful Content & Critical Interaction Design

And now for the hard part. If all of good Web design were as clear-cut as parts 1 & 2, above, you wouldn't need much judgment and there would be a lot more good sites. But the easier the decisions are, the less significant the thinking and effort behind them... and the easier it would be to provide useful content. This section is where you make or break your rapport with the visitor. If you provide real value and give folks enough tools to get to it, they will push past the basic omissions and ignore even the most amateurish art.
  Click for explanation State of the Art, a Model for OthersGreat Work!Does the JobI Can HelpUndetermined/Not ExactlyNot Applicable
Hover for explanation
1. Questions are answered Does the Job  
2. Search results get the job done Does the Job  
3. Effective 'click tree' Does the Job  
4. Conceptual flow from upper left to lower right Does the Job  
5. Simple, outline-like site map Great Work! Aha! The site map appears to give some insight into the mental model. Maybe. The visitor can't tell how much of the facets are indexed or if it's deeper than the site map, but any ability to visualize the dataset helps.
6. Primary navigation is obvious Great Work!  
7. Secondary navigation is obvious Does the Job  
8. Contact information easily accessible Great Work!  
9. Links are clear I Can Help For such a basic site, use the standard web colors... blue and purple once visited.
10. Intro panel or animation not excessive I Can Help  
11. Graphics used only for core message Does the Job I like the banner photos, but can you do anything to them to make them relevant?


Summation & Next Steps

Overall Rating: Strives / Does the Job Survives / Thrives

Qabiria is perfectly adequate to its initial business needs. By using a great content managment tool—Joomla—with professional templates, it conveys professionalism by its inherent appearance and built in interactions. Translation is such a valuable, authentically justified skill that prospective customers are likely to see past any minor flaws in a young company's website. So the few items we highlight for improvement might not be a problem. In other words, when you need a translator, you don't care if they're great web authors.

But when competing for more significant business, or when a visitor to the site is rapidly comparing several vendors and has no tolerance for any imperfections, these minor issues might loom larger.

Combined Notes and Recommendations:

  1. Remove the entrance page. This is a bothersome technique left over from the early days of the web.
  2. Don't make the user click a second time (ex. Mission Page) to reveal the detail content.
  3. Make sure everything on every page (!) is in the selected language.
  4. Combine some of the standard content (About/Mission) so that there fewer pages. Just tell them who you are and what you do in as few pages as possible.
  5. Fix the three phrases, "Read Sergio Alasia's resumé" so that the word "resume" always appears (at any screen resolution, zoom level, etc.) Might be an IE7 thing.
  6. Can you remove Admin from the public pages with Joomla?
  7. Change the Search button to a simple icon to the right of the search box. Capitalize "Search..."
  8. Remove the Help link?
  9. Have a native of each language edit the pages in those languages.

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

"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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