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ITC504 Interface Usability Application Proof Reading Service
Application interface usability on human computer interaction. Application interface is to judge the usability of the website. Usability refers to the degree by which a site can be efficiently used and accomplish its goals. There should be a perfect balance between the functionality and usability of the system. The colour scheme should be suitable, the navigation should be easy, and the language should be simple and easily understandable. The browsing experience should be hassle free for the user. Also the content should be informative without any ambiguity. The searching facility should be provided and search results should be returned in an effective manner and in minimum possible time. Also, we would look into the fact that a help tab has been provided and contains useful information and technology. All in all, the website should adhere to certain standards which need to be taken into consideration by any useful web page. I have also made use of Shneiderman's Principles of Human-Computer Interface Design (Shniederman, Ben. 1992). We will see that the web site adheres to the eight golden rules for user interface design. Application interface usability will also consist of suggestions which would help in improving the website and help in making it more usable.
Study of the current User Interface:
The Positives: The User Interface of the website can be rated as good. The home screen on the first look gives neat view of what the international business has to offer. All the information has been categorised and placed under relevant tabs, hence the user is not overloaded with lot of information. They can just select the tab they want and get the required information. The content is to the point. Below is a detailed summary of good points of the web page grouped under suitable feature headings:
Navigational feature: The current website has a menu with several tabs at the home page. The user is able to navigate to any page from the Home screen. This reduces the navigation time. A sitemap has also been provided, which displays the current position of the user and also allows them to return to any previous page in the chain. Each tab further extends into sub categories and hence shortcuts have been provided for all the pages. Also, at the bottom of the page all the tabs in the menu have been listed along with their contents, this ensures faster movement through the website. It also provides further links to any award or recognition obtained by the vendor. This is done with the help of an image button at the base. Shortcuts, to sign up to newspaper and help page is also provided. Also, on each page belonging to a sub category there are links to all the other categories which come under the same group. Hence, we can conclude that lot of shortcuts are available to facilitate navigation.
Graphics: The website makes use of an image in the master page. This black and red image, with a blue design remains constant throughout the website. Then homepage has an image slideshow, with snapshots of caves. This slideshow displays various images and also hyperlinks to relevant page within the image itself. This central image changes in accordance to the tab chosen which gives a personalised feel. There are different sections for latest news and also the current happenings and trends. These sections provide a quick overview to the customer along with their respective slide shows. The good part is that slideshows work seamlessly and pictures used are attractive.
Colour scheme and Themes: It has a black background on the master page. The content place holders have blue headings on a white base. The headings and the colour scheme is constant throughout. This is in accordance to the Strive for consistency rule as suggested by Shneiderman and is also neat.
Hyperlinks:The site has shortcuts and hyperlinks available on every page. This has been done to make the browsing experience easier. The hyperlinks change colour on mouse hover which is a good feature. They function perfectly and redirect us to the correct page on a single click.
Usability: Ease of usability is one of the major criteria over which a website is judged (Sterne, J. 2002). The website is designed for the benefit of the end user. It should give the user clear information about the enterprise and what it has in offer for the consumer. The Jenolan Caves website is successful in that. All the information is present in a simple and easy to understand language. Charts, tables, calendars and diagrams are used when it is possible. This does not overload the user with information. Hence, we can say that data presentation is quite effective. Also, the website seamlessly converts into any of the languages listed in Select Language tab, this is done by making use of Google translate functionality. This also adheres to the principle of cater to universal ability, which states that website should cater to people belonging to diverse technical or social backgrounds. As the website is simplistic, it adheres to reduce short term memory rule.
Search:The website provides search functionality. It is pretty basic. When a keyword is searched it presents all the matches from the website in a tabular and paged format. It also provides the feature to search all words/any words/phrase. The site can be navigated easily using either the keyboard or the mouse. It is very flexible in usage, which forms a very important point of human computer graphics (Rubenstein, R. and H. Hersch, 1984). In the age of social networking, the website has embedded tags for both Facebook and twitter on its page. This is a good advertising tool, a logged in user can share information on their page and promote the business. Easy and inexpensive advertising method.
- While browsing through the website, there were certain negative points I found out which can be summarised as follows:
- About us appears at the end of the menu list. Surveys suggest that it should be among the first two menu items.
- The design of the website is flat. All the headings are of the same colour. Agreed, this supports consistency, but certain important headings can have different colours, so that instant attention of the user is diverted to them. Also, the website lacks marquee, which can be used to highlight upcoming events (Mandel, Theo. 1997).
- The link for the image gallery displayed fatal errors, and did not load multiple times. This page should be checked.
- Also, the Links tab under Visitor Info is empty and does not display any information.
- The home page at first glance looks tad overcrowded. It has lot of hyperlinks, especially at the bottom of the page which can be removed so that the page can get a neater look (Dix, Alan. 2003).
- The website lacks when it comes to the Offer informative feedback principle. The website is not interactive, not much space has been provided to take user feedbacks.
Shneiderman had also talked about preventing errors. This forms a major part of interface design. The website lacks client side validation. One can enter numeric data in a text field, but this would not be checked on the client side, but on the server side, which is reduces the performance.
Suggestions for improvement:
- The search functionality provided is pretty basic. It would be better if they provide autocorrect and also a suggestion list with frequently searched items. This not only helps the user but also reduces the response time of the website.
- The colour scheme is bit dull. It is a website inviting people to explore a destination and plan a holiday. A dash of peppiness must be added to the interface, this will go well with the base idea of the site.
- There is no Help button available on the website. Help button is essential for troubleshooting problems. You can group the commonly suffered problems in this category, a sort of FAQ which can be really helpful to the user (Heckel, Paul. 1984).
- The Getting Here page can be improved. The directions to reach the destination are given in a paragraph for. This can be converted into bullets, to make it more informative. The map tool can be used in a better way.
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