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Website Review of

This is a quick usabilty review of the website for Statistics Canada. Here's a screen capture of the site as we reviewed it.



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.

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 It's there but not linked.
  2. Tagline Undetermined/Not Exactly Yes, "Hippest place..." but would "Customer Loyalty. Simplified" be more to the point?
  3. Welcome blurb I Can Help No, and I think this is an important one. This is a novel system and it's not explained in one sentence high on the home page. This is what I might be looking for: "quickly create, manage and reward customer loyalty with points for visiting and <???>" On my 1024 display this starts to show up in the 3 orange boxes below the fold.
  4. Plain wording Does the Job  
  5. No 'happy talk' Undetermined/Not Exactly The features page is somewhat fluffy.
  6. Concise wording Does the Job  
  7. Visited pages are distinguished by link color-coding I Can Help Not really; interaction-wise, the whole site is like one big graphic.
  8. "Utilities" are easy to find Does the Job  
  9. Search on all pages, with box and button I Can Help  
  10. "You Are Here" indicator I Can Help No. For example, when you're on the Testimonials page, the Testimonials block is not highlighted in any way. This is slightly worsened because the page names are creative...Sticky Street Fanatics. One might say this is immaterial with such a small site, but consider a busy exec who is on a mission to compare 10 loyalty vendors in one morning.
  11. Breadcrumbs' as links Not Applicable  


If you've made it this far, I have a free gift for the first 100 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. Please include "Poopy Phonics" in the subject line so I have a chance of recovering it if it goes to my spam folder. —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

Does the Job  

Appropriate background color

Does the Job  
Appropriate color hues Does the Job  
Visual representation of the information hierarchy Undetermined/Not Exactly I think there might be some room for improvement. The whole design is strong, professional, bright. But maybe everything is competing too much. I think that "getting started for nothing" is key, but it competes on an equal footing with everything else. Maybe the top banner and nav should be 20% smaller and the body needs to have only horizontal or vertical sales points, not both.
Conservative quantity of colors Great Work!  
Text sizes are "relative" Does the Job  
Anti-aliased graphics Does the Job  
Graphics' file size doesn't slow navigation Does the Job  
"Alt tags" used well Does the Job  
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 Not Applicable  
3. Effective 'click tree' Undetermined/Not Exactly  
4. Conceptual flow from upper left to lower right I Can Help Again, there's too much competition for your attention.
5. Simple, outline-like site map Not Applicable  
6. Primary navigation is obvious Does the Job  
7. Secondary navigation is obvious Not Applicable  
8. Contact information easily accessible Great Work!  
9. Links are clear Does the Job  
10. Intro panel or animation not excessive Undetermined/Not Exactly It's as professional as can be but I question if the content is as sharply targeted as needed... I personally need to see it summarize functionality in the first 10 seconds. Are the key visitors the same as me?
11. Graphics used only for core message Does the Job  


Summation & Next Steps

Overall Rating: Strives / Survives / Great Work! Thrives

The usability faults are very trivial checklist-style things; no one will fail to use the site because of them. The main thing is use of space to communicate the key message.


  1. Decide on the key points (free trial, points program?) and make them prominent. Make the banner and top nav smaller.
  2. Write a concise welcome blurb (sentence stating exactly what the business provides, and to whom) and put it high on the home page.
  3. Should you have fewer price points?

I continually look at as a reference and model for many of these judgment calls.


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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