Web Design Analysis/Comparison

Analysis of three Web sites based on Web Design and Usability Guidelines, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

  Christian Science Monitor Palo Alto Medical Foundation Kids First: Coalition for Quality Children's Media (CQCM)
2.0 Optimizing the user experience, 2.9, 2.15 Format information for reading and printing Paragraphs are short, not able to change size of text, provides separate printable pages, length of articles easy to read online, publishes a "treeless" edition Medical information is well written and provided in easily readable format, ability to print or email each page, small and descriptive photos and diagrams, text size change capability made text nearly unreadable. Colors and images appropriate for purpose and audience, text size adjustable for different age groups, language simple and direct, uses frames in second level pages, separately printable frames, frame pages use space poorly.
5.0 The homepage, 5.1, 5.4 Homepage accessible throughout site and homepage communicates site's value and purpose Banner and logo link to homepage from every page, includes "back to csmonitor.com" in text when goes off main site, colors, design, and layout of homepage communicates image of serious newspaper. Company name and logo in upper left does not link to homepage from all pages, "Home" text links to section homepages, color scheme and text layout communicates serious and solid contents, good contrast of backgound and text colors. Homepage is Flash introduction, with visuals but no sound, that can be bypassed, Flash intro serves no purpose to this reviewer, homepage designed for children using bright colors and cartoon images, looks like much time and effort spent on homepage but design is not carried uniformly through rest of site, every page has logo that links to Flash intro and "Home" link to real homepage.
6.0 Page layout, 6.6, 6.8 Optimizes display density and uses fluid page layout Better use of white space than NY Times, uses fluid page layout, minimum, contains ads that switch to new site and disable "Back" button, other ads open up in new window, banner has search window, Layout of pages uniform, good use of white space, no fluid page layout, search site window on all pages, display density, good text organization with bullet and small paragraphs. Articles and news in printable pdf format, no fluid page layout, good use of blocks of background colors to highlight areas of a page, layout of pages are not uniform.
7.0 Navigation, 7.2, 7.7 Present navigation tabs effectively and provide feedback on user's location Nav tabs echo newspaper sections, user's location indicated by link color change and bread crumbs trail, no active or roll over link color indicators, top horizontal and left vertical nav bars. Top horizontal nav tabs are uniform throughout site, no bread crumbs trail when going into subcategories, location of current page is not highlighted on left vertical nav bar, no color differentiation indicating visited or currently open links. Menus and tabs on homepage are not uniform throughout rest of site, top horizontal nav bar is different throughout site, looks like many separate sites linked together under one homepage, no feedback on user's location, no color differentiation indicating visited or currently open links.
9.0 Headings, titles, and labels, 9.1, 9.4 Use clear, unique, and descriptive category labels and headings Categories of features and columns clear and unique, descriptive story bylines from print newspaper, each section has descriptive subcategories, and information about Web edition in separate nav bar. top level categories and subcategories are clear and make sense, right nav bar provides links to subcategories from top menu's major categories, category labels and headings are effective, hyperlinked text throughout content is clearly indicated in traditional blue and purple when visited, topics are appropriate. Category and subcategory headings do not clearly explain difference between Kids First content and CQCM content, annoying Flash moving twirls on CQCM pages which should be for adults, not kids, clear labels on video clips of children's videos, pages don't have names, making contents of page confusing, poor presentation of subject categories of endorsed titles.

Learn more about Usability.gov: "Your guide for developing usable and useful Web design"
from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

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