Given the possibility to thoroughly study and analyze the site “http://research.brown.edu/index.php” for detecting any apparent usability issues, many interesting notions have come up which should be taken into consideration. The purpose of this memorandum is to demonstrate the remarks which have been taken during this observation with possible improvements that can be made.
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The problems with the mentioned site mainly concern the navigation problems and the use of color which will be described in detail in the following sections.
The complexity in navigational issues comes usually with the desire to present innovations in the field of representation. Additionally, this factor can be combined to make the design distinguishable, which in the current case indeed does.
In analyzing the aforecited website it is apparent that the navigational problem lies in the site’s structure. The site structure is demonstrating a minimalist approach which can be related to being linear layout. However, the home page demonstrates rather a custom layout which is negated in the usage of various layers that demonstrates the site’s headlines. The problem in the navigation is the difficulty in choosing a specific layer as the layers cover each other in a frustrating order. The problem is obviously in the usage of cascading style sheets which were used out of order. The issue can be further pointed out when there was an apparent difficulty in choosing a particular layer because it was hidden by other sheets. The small sizes of these sheets represent another difficulty as it requires the user to scroll down through the window to reach the navigational link. This could represent another usability issue as apparently, the user might miss this hidden link in some layers. This problem can be solved by using a traditional block style that will be separated at the content window in a three-frame design.
Going further analyzing the main page, it should be mentioned that the option to personalize this page is presented in the page in a small font link at the footer area of the site; furthermore, the card style of the headlines is set by default.
The usage of color can be represented in two ways: the home page and the content page. The home page is represented by an established graphic identity which is rather high contrast colors that if represents the identity of the university; it is overwhelmed with one color. This problem progresses into the depth of the content pages. The small font and the low contrast of black and grey colors make the text difficult to read and at the same time move away from the established graphical tone of the home page. Other issues could be characterized in the absence of the search option, the unusual placement of the home button, and as a survey shows that most users expect to find certain usual links at certain placements.
A site that represents a university and at the same time serves as an introduction to new students or students willing to join, should act as an attraction to the university. The design of the site is repulsive and frustrating which is not serving the reputation of the university.
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Summarizing the aforementioned it could be stated that the site “http://research.brown.edu/index.php” has obvious problems with the design and navigation that should be fixed. These problems complicate the site’s usage. The first major steps that could be taken toward solving these problems would be changing the color gamma of the design and simplifying the navigation.
Pfeiffer, W. S. (2006). Technical Communication:A Practical Approach. S. 261-430). NJ: Pearson Education.
Shaikh, D. A. &. L. K. (2006). Where’s the Search?. Web.
Brown Eduacation (2008). Brown Research. Web.