Usability Test on “The Homicide Report” Website

When I first opened the website for “The Homicide Report” all I could see was white. It was a very plain set up with a blog style layout. The first thing I saw on the page was the map. I noticed when I hovered over it that it was interactive, which isn’t something I’ve seen on a website from a news source.

The site when you first open it up.
The site when you first open it up.

I began to explore around the map, clicking on one of the orange dots to see where it would go. It took me to a story of someone who was murdered, along with a photo and some basic information about the victim. The media went along with the story, which was pleasing to look at and it complemented the story, like the navigation tips suggested.

Then, I went to the top and clicked the FAQ page. None of the pages or stories open in a new tab, which is somewhat frustrating when you try to go back to where you started. There aren’t too many places of navigation though, which follows the tips from our course blog.

Next, I went back to the home page and decided to scroll through it. It seems like the page never ends, but, it made up for the lack of many tabs or drop bars. This layout follows one of usability tips we learned in class on keeping the navigation simple.

I decided to scroll through the home page and find a story that caught my interest. As I was reading it, I noticed on the side of the story, there was a “follow the story” feature. Here, there are all of the articles that have to do with that specific case in one spot, such as the updates of the arrests made. I found this to be very helpful because I could keep up with a case if I wanted to. This feature integrates media with the story, like the information design tips recommend.

Finally, I found the contact information in no time flat. Considering there aren’t really any tabs on the site, it was easy to see it on the top corner of the page. It was easy to find because I wasn’t going through all these steps to find contact information. It was in a reasonable spot and easy to see, which also follows the navigation tips we learned in class.

When I had my friend Will navigate the site next, he was confused at first; nothing caught his eye right away. This doesn’t really follow the information design tips we covered. He scrolled through the home page and found the constant scrolling a little overwhelming. He told me it would be more helpful and efficient if there were tabs dividing the posts up more.

He then clicked on a neighborhood in the map and browsed through some of the victims stories, finally understanding the concept behind the site: to write on murder victims in the LA area.

Next, he went to the search bar to see how it worked and searched for certain neighborhoods to see where they would take him. He read through some of the stories and then finally looked through the photos. He found the contact information without hesitation just like I did.

When comparing our tests to one another, I think I had a better understanding of the site and its purpose right off the bat, whereas Will was confused. He spent a lot of time on navigation, trying to figure out the site’s purpose, whereas I tried to cover as much ground as the 10 minutes would allow me.

We both found the interactive map to be a helpful and unique feature to the site, adding some variety to the long list of posts. We both think the amount of navigation was underwhelming and posts could be divided up better without making the site too cluttered.

If I could change three things about the site, I would make the posts a little more organized instead of having a long list to make it easier to find stories. I would add a little color to the site, it doesn’t need to be a lot, but right now it’s completely white, making it hard to look at after awhile. Finally, I would include an about section on the site so no one is confused by the concept, like my friend Will was.

I would keep the interactive map, because it’s an awesome twist to a normal site. I would keep the FAQ and contact information in the same spot so that anyone can find it. Finally, I would keep the search bar right under the map so that it’s easy to find a specific case. Overall, the site is cool; it’s an interesting and unique source of information.

 

 

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