Web site review

15 03 2008

The Trinity College Raether Library’s and Georgia Tech Library and Information Center’s Web sites are both well-designed, user-friendly and professional. It’s not surprising then that they also both follow the 10 Principles of Effective Web design listed by Smashing Magazine, and are good examples of how Dominican can improve the Crown Library Web site. I think one of a Web page’s most important design elements is its scanability, which makes it possible for users to quickly find the information they need. Both sites use color, simplicity and grouping to achieve this effect.

The Effective Web Design article asserts that “users don’t read, they scan.” Both the Trinity College and Georgia Tech library Web pages are easy to scan because information is well-grouped and not overwhelming. At the Trinity site, the first thing users notice is two boxes in the middle of the page, which make it possible to immediately start looking for information. The boxes are large, color-coded, and easily noticeable, unlike some of the smaller search boxes tucked away in the corners of other library sites, yet they are not so large that they overwhelm users. It is clear from only a brief scan of the page that one box is for searching for books and the other is for searching journals. Although there are no search boxes on the home page of the Georgia Tech Library’s site, it is still easy to scan to find an appropriate link for searching. Your eye is immediately drawn to the center of the page because of the way links are grouped in a circular pattern around a central line. Color is used to make a visual link between the categories “Search and Find,” “Services,” “About the Library” and “News and Events.” Links provided under the categories are sparse and don’t overwhelm the user with options.

The Rebecca Crown Library’s Web site does a decent job of making information easy to scan, but could be improved by following some of the examples at the Trinity College and Georgia Tech library’s sites. The use of white space and bolding makes Crown Library’s page easy to scan; however, the category headings are the same color as the links below them, which makes the page less interesting and causes the information to run together. Putting the categories in color-coded boxes, like Trinity College, or simply putting lines between them and putting the categories in a different font or color, like Georgia Tech does, would make them more interesting to look at and even easier to scan. Crown library could also improve its site by adding a search option right from the home page, like Trinity College’s catalog search box.

Although no Web site is perfect, combining the effective design elements from the Trinity College, Georgia Tech, and Dominican University library Web sites would result in a page that is easy for users to scan and quickly find information.

-Laura

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