This is an analysis of Times Online and the effects of the following, searchabilty, usability, navigation, design, the content including video, interactivity, and user generated content, and how they comply with Nielsen’s heuristic evaluation (1994, cited Cato 2001) and Schneidermann’s five attributes (1992, cited Cato 2001).
The seachabilty of Times Online is beneficial to the user, as the search engine Google came up with promising results. It was first on the list and the majority of results that appeared on the first page were links to different features of the Times Online website. On the first result, there is a search box provided. The search does not open up the times online, but instead ‘Google’ searches what has been typed in the box. It is misleading for the user as its objective is not clearly signposted, and then becomes a longer process for the user.
Nielsen states that “Usability is a quality attribute that assesses how easy user interfaces are to use”. This can be applied to the Times Online, as the user is able to upload links and videos efficiently. The website has been designed with the user in mind. This is recognised in the language used, it is aimed at the “real world” user, such as the words “where am I”, next to what section they are on. Schneidermann (1992, cited Cato 2001) states the five attributes needed to make good usability of a website are learnability, efficiency, memorability, error rate and satisfaction.
The navigation of the Times Online has easy to learn functions, such as the “breadcrumb trail” (Brinck et al 2002). The trail is hyperlinked, making it convenient for the user. It also prevents the user from getting lost as they can visibly see and select ‘home’. This supports Nielsen’s heuristic evaluation for its “recognition”. The homepage of ‘Times online’ generates an effortless search for the user by applying hyperlinks to the following, “popular searches” and “shortcuts to help the user find different sections and articles”. It speaks the “real world” language (Nielsen 1994, cited Cato 2001) and it’s convenient to the user. There is also “most read”, “most curious”, and “most commented”, which welcomes interactivity from the user. Times Online is fairly easy to navigate around due to the recognition.
The website has simple features, and does not contain hard-to-read typography. The headlines “support scannabilty” (Nielsen 2007), the clear visibility of the boldness of the blue makes it stand out from the regular text on the page. This increases the usability, as it is makes it easier for the user to identify the headline of the article they are interested in. The title Times Online is eye-catching with its typography of capital letters. The website seemed to feature a lot of advertisements, which made the page look busy. However, some of the advertisements are animated, which could be distracting or frustrating for the user, or could result in “animation avoidance” (Nielsen 2007).
The website features a wide selection of content. The different categories are clearly sign posted at the top of the page such as news, business, sport, and travel, etc. these hyperlinked categories contain articles and videos of relevance. Subcategories also become available, situated underneath the top level categories. The website didn’t have much video content on the homepage, making it a longer process for the user to find the content. However the videos did load quickly and efficiently and were good quality. The user was able to view the video without being redirected.
The interactivity of Times online is very influential to the website. It allows users to become members, and have their own “profile”, for no cost, allowing them to take part in competitions, promotions, and free email bulletins. It promotes brand loyalty, and more interactivity leads to more users. Comments can be found on nearly every article, which can be arranged in order of ‘most recommended’, or ascending. This gives the user easier access if they are searching for a comment in particular. There are some features available to the user without registering, such as taking part in polls.