Homepage Design Critique

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A critique of the homepage for Singapore Management University.

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Homepage Design Critique

  1. 1. Homepage Critique for the SMU website Greg Thomas - gmthomas@smu.edu.sg
  2. 2. SMU Home Page
  3. 3. Design First Impression  What’s the overall impression of the design of the web site?
  4. 4. Everything is relative, so let’s benchmark the design impression against other sites.
  5. 5. Target Audience: Kids
  6. 6. Target Audience: Prospective University Students
  7. 7. Target Audience: Marketing Managers
  8. 8. Target Audience: Young Adults
  9. 9. Target Audience: Trendsetters
  10. 10. Target Audience: Younger Adults
  11. 11. Target Audience: Young adults with cancer
  12. 12. Target Audience: Teenagers
  13. 13. Target Audience: Business Managers
  14. 14. Target Audience: Technology Managers
  15. 15. Target Audience: Tech Managers
  16. 16. Target Audience: Prospective University Students
  17. 17. Target Audience: Tourists to France (Adults)
  18. 18. Target Audience: University Students
  19. 19. Target Audience: Bird Watchers
  20. 20. Target Audience: Young Adults
  21. 21. Target Audience: Advertisement Managers
  22. 22. Target Audience: Pet Owners
  23. 23. Target Audience: Banking Clients
  24. 24. Design First Impression  Corporate looking personality  It looks more like a traditional bank website than anything else.  Perhaps a little boring. A bit busy (complex) makes it hard to know where to prioritize focus.
  25. 25. Brand Personality Brand Personality Sincerity Excitement Competence Sophistication Ruggedness •Down to earth •Honest •Wholesome •Cheerful •Daring •Spirited •Imaginative •Up-to-date Source: (Aaker, 1997) •Reliable •Intelligent •Successful •Upper class •Charming •Outdoorsy •Tough What personality is the site portraying.
  26. 26. Brand Personality Brand Personality Sincerity Excitement Competence Sophistication Ruggedness •Down to earth •Honest •Wholesome •Cheerful •Daring •Spirited •Imaginative •Up-to-date (Aaker, 1997) •Reliable •Intelligent •Successful •Upper class •Charming •Outdoorsy •Tough What personality do we want the site to portray? (up for debate)
  27. 27. What about the functionality of the website? Lets take a look at the web page functions, and examine each facet in detail.
  28. 28. SMU Home Page
  29. 29. Identity+ Home Nav Navigation Shortcuts Search Contact Feature Urgent Notice Timely Content Legal Notices White Space White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments Navigation to Business Units Brand Identity Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research Navigation By Persona BelowthefoldAbovethefold Functionality A breakout of the Home Page functionality Notebook screen
  30. 30. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique What’s Missing?  Does the page inspire?  Is their a logical hierarchy to the site?  Is navigation clear?  Is information findable?  Does the user (by persona) know where to begin?  Does the page use defacto standards?  Are page subsections well identified?  Does the page optimize search engine rankings?  Are there shortcuts for experts?  Is it obvious what’s clickable?  Is important information identified as such? 10.
  31. 31. 1. 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 15. Legal Notices 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona 10. Critique 1. Identity & Home Navigation  The logo tells visitors where they are and as such is typically the first thing visitors to the website seek.  The logo image is blurry and that gives an impression of a low quality brand. 11. White Space
  32. 32. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 2. White Space: This white space is dead space which could be used to express brand identity. 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  33. 33. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 3. Navigation Shortcuts:  Shortcuts are confusing due to unclear naming.  Prospective students will not understand these are for intranet navigation.  New users (staff, students, teachers, researchers) will not understand the options due to ambiguous naming (eWise, SMUVista, Oasis, OnTrac).  Plainspeak naming works better than fanciful naming. For example, use “intranet portal” generic naming instead of eWise which is a system name. 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  34. 34. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 4. Contact Us: The contact us navigation is not noticeable. (After a year of using the page I only realize it is there during this analysis). 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  35. 35. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 5. Search:  The search field could use smart search.  Search should not pop-up in a net window.  The search return results is not well optimized. I have better luck using Google.  Button name should be “GO” not search to simplify..  Search could be delimited by “web” and “people” with a radio button defaulted on “web”. 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  36. 36. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Critique 6. Persona Navigation:  The personas are not well defined.  Graduate student prospects are abandoned.  Too many options can confuse new users.  Navigation is vertical which is less optimal than horizontal navigation. 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  37. 37. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 7. Brand Identity  The brand identity takes prime space on the website, but delivers little in terms of driving brand identity which is generally accomplished by revealing the story of the brand.  The image is static which can cause wearout (boredom).  The image does not feature the thing that people connect most deeply with, and that’s people. 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  38. 38. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 8. Navigation to Business Units:  This navigation bar takes several seconds to load, which defeats ease of use for expert users,  Its not readily apparent this is an alternative navigation bar (it took me months to realize). 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  39. 39. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research:  Making this navigation serve the needs of everyone means no single user group (persona) is well served.  Internal users and external users are mixed (causing confusion).  Resources for internal users are best left to gateway pages.  IITS is in the centres submenu, which is misclassification.  Home button is duplicative, as the defacto standard is to use the site ID as a home button. 10. 9. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  40. 40. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 10. News:  Ideally a front page with content acts as a teaser, like a magazine cover, for people to want to learn more. Inspiration and updates can be used well for this but timely updates are often better left to One-2-One comm like email (click-through rates can help confirm).  There is no section header so people do not know the function of this page region. 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  41. 41. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 15. Legal Notices 11. 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 11. White Space:  This is dead space.  It could be used for more features, imagery, social media integration, student news, Podcast, and a zillion other things. As of now it does nothing. 10.
  42. 42. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 12. Features:  The features space is too small,  The feature does not convey why to click, one only learns if they mouse over that it is a clickable region.  When selected it spawns a new window (worst practice).  A leader like “Discover our milestones...” could get people to click- through. Or “tell us your experience with SMU” is even better. 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space
  43. 43. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. 14. Timely Content 15. Legal Notices 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 13. Urgent Notices:  It would be goo d to call this “Urgent Notices” so people get used to seeking information there.  As I write this the email service is down today. It would be good to have system status updates on this section so we know when to expect service outages to be fixed. 10. 11. White Space
  44. 44. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. 15. Legal Notices 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 14. News and Events:  How is this section different from the section 10? (it should be apparent from naming).  This is listed as “News & Events” but only events are listed.  The events listing is cramped and does not indicate which audience should attend (students, academics, business community).  An event highlight area could feature top upcoming public events.  Selecting an event spawns a new window (worst-practice).  Many public events are not listed. 10. 11. White Space
  45. 45. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 15. 11. White Space 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 15. Notices: This section provide additional fields that are commonly used such as a “contact us” and “emergency information”, and “site credits”.  Some additional features such as “make a gift,” & “accredition” may be of use. 10.
  46. 46. 1. Identity+ Home Nav 3. Nav Shortcuts 5. Search 4. Contact 12. Feature 13. Urgent Notice 14. Timely Content 2. White Space Timely Info New Developments Thought Leadership Inspiration Timely Info New Developments 8. Navigation to Business Units 7. Brand Identity 9. Navigation to Overview, Directories, Programs , Schools & Research 6. Navigation By Persona Critique 15. Navigation Confusion:  Navigation alternatives take up a majority of the prime real estate space on the homepage.  Some of this navigation is duplicative.  Excess options on the home page provides cognitive overload for new users.  The website’s primary target of prospective students are not well served.  The remainder of the space above-the-fold is leaves little room for featuring content to engage (which is a reason to return to the site).  Expert navigation options are too limited. 10. 15. Legal Notices 11. White Space

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