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Friday, December 03, 2004

Usability: Don't make the user scroll to read

Category: Professional

I was checking the web site (is this the right way to write web site or is it website, I suppose it is web site) of TIS, one of India's biggest e-learning companies, and I'm surprised to note that it scores little on usability.

What is the point in using only 25% to 30% of the space to write content and giving the rest to a graphic that doesn't have an alt tag?

They have seven small paragraphs, and to read those seven paragraphs one has to click on the internal scroll bar seven times.

Why can't you provide all the seven paragraphs together, instead of wasting 40% of the space on a graphic and then adjusting the content with a scroll bar.

Probably, they are so busy making money that they forgot they have a website.

Also, why are the contact addresses provided as flash files, can't they write it in plain html. Or they suppose that only broadband users access their sites, and all those who access from a dial-up are not worth considering.

Maximize Learning has revamped their web site and it looks good, although the content goes beyond a single page and requires the user to scroll horizontally, which should be avoided, as people lke to read from top to bottom and left to write, and no one likes to read in a newspaper column format that requires horizontal scrolling. Also, why should a web site be optimized for 1024 by 768 resolution users. What if an 800 by 600 resolution user doesn't want to change his settings, and he doesn't want to access your web site because it requires a lot of scrolling at 800 by 600 screen size?

Is it necessary for an e-learning company to project a multimedia image (flash, 1024 by 768). Shouldn't content be given preference over technologies that are used?

I feel content should always be easy on the eyes. Instead of making a user skip a flash intro, why not offer an html site with a link to the flash presentation?

I've mentioned this before, and I'm mentioning this again, Amazon's A9 search engine has a fantastic look and feel. It is so easy on the eyes. A9's skyblue background looks good. Ofcourse Google's white background is the best anytime.

I have noticed this thing. Many major companies have web sites, which aren't updated. Even my ex-employer's web site had the careers section last updated in Aug. 2004. I guess, it is still that way.

One reason is they're busy making money and they need to satisfy the clients, and they don't think it necessary to update the web site, and a © 2004 is enough for the web site to appear as updated.

Another reason is they feel they have the business development guys to get them business, and consider the web site only as an online extension of the company on paper. The third reason is, maybe they wanted someone to tell them this. :-)


Usability Link: Jakob Nielsen's UseIt.