Usability Institue Logo- A bolt that can be fastened with any of 4 tools
Reducing Training to Its Sensible Minimum: Zero...
Inexpensive, Independent Usability Consulting by Jack Bellis
Home Page- List of All Content Home Page- All content, in date order Resources: page describing tools you can use Morsels: just our short articles and blurbs Just our Before&After Articles Just our Before&After Articles About: details on who I am and what I do Address, phone, number,  and so on


Website Review of

Congratulations! This is our last 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.


Here's a larger picture:

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 Does the Job Yes. The fact that it's not on the left is immaterial.
  2. Tagline Undetermined/Not Exactly Judging by its prominence on the manifesto page, I realize that it's "Friends don't let friends buy bad promo." But on the home page, it's postion at the bottom of the body panel makes it unclear that it's the mission itself. In that position, it's impossible to tell if it's one of innumerable "customer" messages, or a periodically-changing "ad," or something completely random. By moving it to the banner area, immediately adjacent to the site name it confers its significance.
  3. Welcome blurb I Can Help No. Replace the "Know what you're looking for.." space with the best 2-sentence summation from the manifesto page. "servicing image conscious companies... just as picky as you... killer promotion"???
  4. Plain wording Does the Job  
  5. No 'happy talk' Great Work!  
  6. Concise wording Great Work!  
  7. Visited pages are distinguished by link color-coding I Can Help The only place where this is important is the Promo Product categories, and there is no indication of which ones you've visited. On many sites, this can be trivial, but on this site, where the categories are key, and by its nature, very "browse" oriented, visitation tracking is possibly crucial.
  8. "Utilities" are easy to find I Can Help The only "utility" of consequence is the contact info, and it's not prominent enough for a 110% customer-service org. The phone number, while on every page is almost always below the fold... at the end. The Contact Us link is always 2 clicks away (on our company page) instead of 1.
  9. Search on all pages, with box and button State of the Art, a Model for Others  
  10. "You Are Here" indicator I Can Help The main navigation blocks don't indicate the current page. The fact that the Help item is always red causes confusion.
  11. Breadcrumbs' as links Not Applicable Not applicable with the number of pages.




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. 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

>>>Get $2.00 back until January 31, 2008. No strings, no small print.<<<
Just send me the actual UPC code from the book.
— 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

Does the Job  

Appropriate background color

Great Work!  
Appropriate color hues Great Work!  
Visual representation of the information hierarchy I Can Help The Tour navigation looks like a menu bar. See recommendations for more.
Conservative quantity of colors Great Work!  
Text sizes are "relative" I Can Help Using my browser's text sizing tool didn't change the text size. This is one of the few accessibility items I routinely look for, but I think it's important for older eyes.
Anti-aliased graphics Does the Job  
Graphics' file size doesn't slow navigation Does the Job  
"Alt tags" used well Undetermined/Not Exactly Might be useful on client logos.
Links don't just say "Click Here" Does the Job  
A style sheet (CSS) is used Does the Job style.css


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 New Products seems out of place, but I imagine it's partly because it's an off-site page. (The first hit it brought up was "testes." Hmmm, interesting promo.)
4. Conceptual flow from upper left to lower right Does the Job Yes, but the page titles are right-aligned... move them to the left.
5. Simple, outline-like site map Great Work!  
6. Primary navigation is obvious Great Work!  
7. Secondary navigation is obvious Does the Job  
8. Contact information easily accessible Does the Job  
9. Links are clear Does the Job  
10. Intro panel or animation not excessive Does the Job  
11. Graphics used only for core message Does the Job  

Summation & Next Steps

Overall Rating: Strives / Does the Job Survives / Thrives

  1. Originally I thought the Browse page needed to show the whole product image above the fold along with Next button. Uh-oh... I completely misunderstood that I wasn't browsing but I was on the first page of "Tour"! The tour needs to clarify that it's demonstrating the process of interactively purchasing a promo. Change the Tour's top bar so it looks less like a direct navigation bar and more like a timeline of sequential steps: 1-Browse>2-SignUp>3-Logo, etc. You might need multiple words instead of Browse: "Demo Purchase." Look for the right words on other sites.
  2. The page titles are right-aligned... move them to the left.
  3. Promote Contacts, phone number, tag line, welcome blurb.
  4. Put the phone number in the top left where the words "Welcome to..." are?
  5. Remove today's date.
  6. Reduce space taken by search explanation.
  7. Add visitation cues to clicked product/category links.
  8. Consider explaining why one would sign up. Why is it not just an intercepted requirement once it is necessary in the process? Is there a newsletter?

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

2002,   All Rights Reserved
Any and all content may be reused without prior consent if you simply acknowledge the source,