The design elements that we discussed today certainly has a major impact on our experience using a site. I never thought about it in strict terms like this, but I definitely remember visiting certain sites and feeling that something was off, or a feeling of frustration while using the site.
For example, Facebook did a redesign of their homepage probably a year or so ago, which I didn’t notice because I typically use the mobile version.
When I logged into the desktop version for the first time in a while, it was entirely alien to me. It had changed so much that I had difficulty navigating my own profile, and the main feed. At one point, I think I spent 5 minutes just figuring out where my groups went and where to access them.
Another one that comes to mind is goSFU. Although I can’t post any screenshots for obvious reasons, I’m sure you all understand what I’m referring to. The main site feels like it hasn’t been updated since at least the early 2000s and runs basically the same way.
On the plus side:
The site is definitely familiar. Aside from small changes here and there (like adding a link to mySchedule), there’s essentially no learning curve once you’ve learned how to use it in your first year. It also loads quickly, probably because of how few assets are on the screen.
On the downside:
There are definitely some downsides that I’ve noticed over the years.
First off, the font is incredibly small, I feel like I need a microscope to read it. I’m not sure why that’s the case, maybe it’s because the resolution on monitors was much lower back when this site was designed. I think they actually increased the size of the font a year or two back, but even now it still feels a little small. If they increased the font size a little bit more, I think it would certainly help with navigation and readability.
Visually it also doesn’t look very appealing. The various grey colours make the site look very drab and outdated, and it certainly doesn’t help with readability, as we discussed today.
The spacing is also very strange, some sections look like it’s 1.5 spaced, other sections at 1.15. It looks cobbled together, as though it were many separate disjointed pieces that form one whole. Even the boxes and charts are all misaligned slightly, some headings stretch across the width, while others only go part of the way.
Then comes the elephant in the room; it’s really hard to navigate especially when you’re not used to it. It doesn’t feel like the information is organized in a way that has a reasonable flow. There are handy links to some resources, but not others, some items that seem important are buried under drop down menus, while non-important information gets its own direct link.
There’s even a main menu link that the top that I didn’t even know about until a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been here for years!
My impression of the site is that it’s something that gets the job done and meets the requirements of whatever the University wanted when they first designed it. However, it doesn’t really go much into the user experience or visuals, which is probably why it’s a resource that many students and staff don’t particularly like using.
On a related note, based on the discussions we’ve had this week, I’ve also made some adjustments to my site.
Some of the changes I’ve made is keeping a little closer to some of the design principles, especially balance and proportion. The resource introduced in lecture today that allowed me to see the site from a different screen size, definitely made me notice that the formatting for some of the blog posts were a bit off.
I have a fairly large screen so the proportions looked okay from my end, but on smaller screens, I noticed that the text ran straight to the edges, making it a little distracting to read and visually a little strange. So, I went in and figured out that you could adjust the margins in the advanced options, which made the text a little more compact and more comfortable to read even on my larger screen.
I’ve also gone through the site the review some of the image sizes and placement, to see if they fit well with the space and that I’m not crowding out the content too much with media that’s too large.
Overall, hopefully these changes (and continuous changes over the next couple weeks) will polish up the site, so that readers are more interested in staying and engaging with the content.