Usability of Websites

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When I first examined the website http://poweringanation.org/water/ , I didn’t have any expectations that it would be any different from other informative sites I’d visited before. The purpose of this page was made to create awareness about water conservation… boring. And with the informational video being the initial thing that appears on the webpage, my prospects weren’t about to change.

Personally, I’m not a big video viewer, especially when it comes to seeing them online. However, I found I was intrigued with the features this particular video had once you paused it.

They site posted random interactive facts throughout the video’s feed. Things such as:

*A newborn baby is 78 percent water, about 20 percent more than an adult. 

*Wash and fold, wash and fold. Did you know that traditional washing machines use anywhere from 30 to 50 gallons of water per load?

*More than a third of Americans can’t swim.

It came as a surprise that once the video was finished, there were even more interactive features for the site’s audience to view. A large mosaic feature is displayed once you finish the video which allows for more personal interaction with the site.

After exploring the website for a few minutes, I realized that it was taking me all over the place. I ran my mouse across all the icons till I found one that appealed most to me.

From the video, I found I was most interested in seeing how much 100 gallons of water costs. Once I clicked on the icon and watched the 30 second clip, there was a calculator designed to calculate how much 100 gallons costs on a personal usage compared to different countries around the world. It was a realization to see I use approximately 88 gallons of water each day which costs on average about $21.31 which is more than the whole country of Peru, Ethiopia and India use in a day.

After taking just a couple seconds to navigate to the main webpage, I found myself following the same pattern while exploring other various aspects of the site.

Most of the features started off with a video followed by some interactive tool to make the information you just retained more relative to you. By doing this I remembered more information then I would have normally if the site was just full of people talking and not having me be included.

By having explored what this website had to offer, I found that is exceeded the 10 tips of navigation listed on our course website. Maybe it was just me but I had no issues with the navigation of this site whatsoever. And I easily found how I could contact the creators/ producers/ reporters of the website.

Just as a little refreshment, here are the 10 listed tips:

  1. Keep navigation simple: Limit choices. Avoid scroll bars and drop-down menus. Avoid layers and layers of navigation.
  2. Make navigation buttons large enough for a finger touch, not just a mouse click.
  3. Place controls and navigation in logical places. We glance pages from left-to-right and top-to-bottom. Set up navigation and controls that reflect this.
  4. Integrate multimedia into text, so if users what to explore the multimedia while reading the text, they can take a detour. This is nonlinearity.
  5. But be sure you make it easy for users to return to the previous content. –> Don’t remove key navigational buttons that were available before.
  6. Don’t change the position and location of links.
  7. Try not to offer more than 7 options for primary navigation. Exceeding 7 can overwhelm.
  8. Use clear labels and descriptions to users don’t guess where a button or link will take them.
  9. Use clean, simple design so it is easy to read and view your content.
  10. Conduct usability tests!

When deciding to conduct the “Usability Test” on another person, I decided my roommate with a short attention-span was the perfect person to ask.

He found himself having the same thoughts and feelings I did when I first came to this website. At first he thought it would be just another lame environmental site but in just a few short minutes, his perceptions had changed too. And what was even funnier about his process while exploring the page, he did it almost the same exact way I did! (that makes me want to take back the comment I made earlier when deciding to ask him to be my guinea pig).

He took advantage of all the tools on the site and watched video after video while muttering “this is sweet” and “wow” the entire time.

After discussing the site after he explored it, we both reached the conclusion it was one of the best websites either of us had ever seen. Not only did we both learn a lot of things we didn’t before but we also in a sense learned a new way to learn from the perks of having multimedia in today’s world.

Three things that should *not* change –>

1. The interactive features (very entertaining)

2. Captions placed with the video (makes videos more appealing)

3. The mosaic layout (good way to group the information)

Three things that should change –>

1. Length of some of the videos (shorten for people with short attention spans)

2. Add more color (draw in the eyes of more)

3. Add music to the main page (I don’t like quiet)

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Retiring Chimps

While scrolling through news feeds online, I came across an interesting story on the Associated Press website titled “US govt scientists say retire most research chimps” by Janet McConnaughey.

Animals Chimpanzees_Pucker Up!

Photo Courtesy of duiops.net

“At last, our federal government understands:

A chimpanzee should no more live in a laboratory

than a human should live in a phone booth,”

the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

said in a statement.

The focus of this story basically highlights how after years of research being conducted on chimpanzees, the federal government has decided to release them into a Chimp Haven. The story was told through text but had hyperlinks and pictures to give the reader a more interactive experience. For the purpose of this story, I found it to be very effective. Especially because the news story gives readers the ability to click on a highlighted words and directs them to more in-depth websites. Unless you have no background on how to view news on the web, the design and navigational structure was very easy to follow.

As far as news goes, this article hits important points while maintaining the interest of the reader by keeping the subject interesting. Or maybe that’s just my stupid love for monkeys talking. Particular strengths include taking a subject and making it appeal to the reader by showing the problems with keep chimpanzees in research labs and the freedom they’ll have by being released.

I do think that adding a video of an interview or the chimp’s life in the haven would have made this piece stronger and more beneficial to the reader. When it comes to news and the multimedia, visual aides are essential.

The article left me wanting to know what will happen once the chimps are taken out of captivity and how improved their lives will be. This story taught me about how important it is that we as we our scientific paths widen, we need to treat animals in just like we’d treat humans in the situation. Regardless of the things we can learn by experimenting on these animals, it’s not fair to limit them and keep them from wide-open spaces.

Although I think this piece was well done, if I had to make changes, I’d add more interactive features. I find myself getting more from a story when there’s more I can do to be included with it. So as the point of this article was to inform readers about chimpanzees being released from research facilities, it could have hit a more targeted focus by incorporating more images of their lives pre/post captivity.

Presto! My News Diet

APLogoMy grandparents might be ashamed of me for this, but I get most of my news from online sites, my favorite including the Associated Press. And for those who aren’t familiar with AP, it’s an online publication, not a printed one. Although given its popularity amongst the news realm, many publications take stories from AP and publish them in their own daily’s giving credit to them of course.

For my 20th century grandparents, this “news diet” would come as a shock. The idea that I look online would make them have to change into a new pair of Depends. To be honest, I’m not sure they even have the internet to begin with.

However, those who have iPads, tablets, smartphones, etc., know online news sites like AP come as a viable source when it comes to retrieving quick and instant news. If you don’t already, go to your App store and download AP Mobile as soon as you  can.

Listed below are some pictures with recent interesting articles from AP

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As someone who shares an interest in journalism and wants to pursue a career in it, I love the way AP has changed the platform in which people get their news. I have no objection to local and national newspapers, as it’s something I’ve grown up to reading and being passionate about. However, with all the changes that have occurred over the past few years, online news seems to be more efficient and sensible for the people of today.

AP has effectively given themselves the label of being a “trusted” news source. The thousands of staff members that report all around the world do an incredible job of reporting the news in unbiased ways.

As far as entertainment sources go for retrieving news, I wouldn’t fully trust a word. As the term “entertainment” means to provide amusement or enjoyment, news is defined as reporting noteworthy information about important events. The two terms are very contradicting of each other. Entertainment can be informative when it comes to being kept up on the latest trends and fashions. But topics concerning things like elections, I’ll turn to ABC of NBC.

I find myself talking about the news frequently with friends and family. Headlines that have aired recently seem to have their ways of creeping into many peoples conversations. There’s a lot of agreement and disagreement when it comes to such news topics. However, it gives me a more broad range of knowledge which I wouldn’t have known otherwise if it wasn’t for conversing about it.

As much information as I get about news from AP, I could improve my “news diet” by visiting other mainstream news sites. I think it would benefit me in the sense I could gain more aspects and angles from different news topics.

As a personal assignment to myself, I plan on visiting the websites below to expand my news horizons.

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