The above chart compares the usability features of three contrasting websites, namely Amazon.co.uk, Directgov.uk and WWf.org.uk. The usability of a website is very important as it prevents customers leaving the website before they make a sale or provides the information they need. The chart above gives points for the different usability features of each website, going from 10points for an excellent rating to 1 point for a very poor rating (in my view).
The first usability feature is ‘first impressions’. A website should be visually appealing and professional as it reflects the company, its products and services. The website may be the first, and only, impression a potential customer receives of the company. An attractive site is far more likely to generate a positive impression and keep visitors on the website once they arrive. My first impressions of the three websites I have compared show that Amazon .co.uk and Directgov.uk both have the same ratings of 47points, with WWF.org.uk falling behind with 39 points. WWF.org.uk fell behind on my ratings because the depth of the site wasn’t very good as I felt the site needed more information to keep my attention and the readability of the website was not very clear and left me unable to focus on one thing properly.
The next usability feature is ‘navigation’. Every part of a website should work quickly and correctly. Broken or poorly constructed parts can end up leaving a visitor to the website frustrated and disillusioned with the company. Across the whole website, everything should work as expected, including hyperlinks, site search etc. Directgov, in my view had the easiest and best navigation features with a rating of 50 points.
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The website was organized and easy to use and the menu was laid out in a straightforward manner which is important as most visitors to websites are in a hurry and do not want to have to search for information. Amazon got a navigation rating of 49 points as I found that parts of the website did not open multiple windows and lastly WWF with 47 points because the website was not easy to use and the site map was confusing. ‘Content’ is the third usability feature I looked at. Along with style, a website must have substance. Visitors to websites are looking for information that will help them make a decision, so a website should be informative and relevant. This is a good feature in a website as it can increase a visitor’s confidence in a company's knowledge and competence.
WWF had the best ‘content’ usability feature with 70 points, followed by Amazon with 64points and lastly Directgov with 55points. WWF’s website for content was best as it had clearly labelled topics and the text was broken up into small paragraphs. I find overwhelming text very boring. Websites have got less than 10 seconds to hook their visitors, so it is important for a website to grab their attention by being clear, concise and compelling, which is what the WWF website does for ‘content’ usability. The WWF website seems to update their content regularly, this is important as visitors to the site do not want to read the same thing over and over again. Dead or static content will stop visitors returning to a website. Read which statement correctly explains the chart
Graphics and animation can have a very positive impact on user experience and although Amazon and Directgov did have graphics they did not have any forms of animation or sound which I feel can sell a product or service. The WWF website had animated banners, snappy videos and interactive content which added to the site's interest factor and is a good way of keeping visitors to the site around longer. Also the WWF website provided downloadable podcasts, presentations and forms for users who could not stay long, but wanted to take some of the information with them.
With regard to the reviews and testimonials feature, Amazon got the most points for this as their site has reviews and testimonials on most of their products and services. This is a great feature to have on a website as it is the best method for generating new customers. Reviews and testimonials can be a strong first step in establishing believability, credibility, and a sense of security for new customers. They help to break down natural barriers and distrust that a new customer can feel with an unfamiliar website/company. Any opinion coming from a third party, not the business itself, instills confidence in prospective customers.
‘Attractors’ is the fourth usability feature I looked at. Amazon got 46 points, WWF got 44points and Directgov only got 17 points. Amazon has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on different ways of attracting visitors to their website. They have used repetitive high-density broad-based advertising in an attempt to build up a high level of awareness in the users of the World Wide Web (WWW). This has been done by a combination of different types of advertising ranging from billboards in railway stations and on the sides of motorways, to television and radio commercials to banner advertisements on the web itself. By and large this advertising has not been highly targeted, but rather has been aimed at as wide a group as possible.
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