Just as ergonomics is essential to the creation of a great physical product, usability is the foundation of a great website.
I will be testing overwaterunderfire.org for usability and functionality according to the Evaluating Multimedia navigation tips.
The website starts off with a short video and opens to a static screen with the name of the website against a picture in the bottom right there is an icon saying click and drag. Nothing to get confused or to be unsure about. The design is uncluttered, appealing and allows for a pleasant viewing experience.
There is one option for primary navigation. Overwaterunderfire.org is the website equivalent of a water park “lazy river”, just get in and enjoy the ride.
The video starts and a progress bar is visible at the bottom of the screen with markers for the different chapters of the video such as “dams” and “population”.
Graphics for population growth in the American west and lake Mead are clean concise and informative.
The staff editorial page is straightforward with directions on how to read the staff editorials. The about us page is easy to navigate to and easy to read but a link to read more about the staff is the same color as the rest of the text and could be overlooked.
The credits are easy to read and do not contain any links,the credits automatically scroll which is a very nice touch.
Once you watch the video and click on the credits and about us pages a small but obvious x in the upper right hand corner of the page brings you back to the video. It is never confusing to return to previous content. And links remain in the same place.
The site definitely keeps navigation simple. Most of the content comes in the form of videos that either automatically start or have a button that says “click and drag” to start the video.
The site has minimal layers of navigation.
When I looked at the site with a smartphone there was a place to write your email so they could send a reminder to look at their site from a desktop. The site isn’t that complex. They should have just had mobile users redirect straight to the main video. They definitely missed an opportunity with the mobile version.
The controls are in logical places and where they direct you is apparent.
The page lacks nonlinearity though the majority of the site but in the “about us” page there is a link to get more information about the researchers.
Everything is labeled and has a description, you’ll never be confused about where a link takes you.
Getting to the contact information of the producers is extremely easy. All it requires is a a trip to the “about us” page and clicking the link on the page to their contact information.
I had my fiance Katie look at the website and she navigated it without flaw. When prompts opened on the page she clicked them and when she needed to find the contact information it took no time at all. She navigated the post video menu from left to right, which I had expected as I followed a nearly identical path to view the website. Our opinions on the sites ease of use are the same, its intuitive, clean and informative.
If there were three things I wouldn’t want changed about the website they would be; the intro video, the swipe to play video button and the video with its chapterized progress bar. Those three things allow a user to enter the website and view all the content with just a couple of mouse clicks.
If I had to change three things I would have a play button on the initial video instead of it automatically playing. While I like the way it works I can see people wanting to choose when it starts playing. I would also change want the contact info to be on the site instead of needing to click a link to the page, though this didn’t bother me either. The third thing I would change is the mute button. While I have no issue with the button simply muting or unmuting the video I think that being able to adjust the volume with a slider is a better option for some people.
Overall overwaterunderfire.org was a pleasant and informative website that’s simplicity allowed for a confusion free browsing experience.