Apologies – long post….
The expert review found (this is more or less directly quoted from the report’s executive summary):
- Overall, the website seems to include the functionality needed to support basic user tasks of finding and selecting a course to study. No bugs or errors were encountered during the test.
- Coast Digital recommend that we look at the wider competitor set to identify new visual and functionality trends. We should evaluate the strong points from our peers and look to incorporate them into a new web design – an evolution of the existing website
- Overall, the content of the website could be better structured – the existing sitemaps needs to be evaluated and re-structured
- The visual impact of the website needs to be updated – the website is devoid of supporting imagery to ‘sell’ the university to overseas students
- The on-page size of the website needs adjusting to a wider, fixed (or flexible) layout
Most Critical Issues and Recommendations
These were ranked on a scale of severity, thus:
- Low, cosmetic or minor, creating minimal difficulty
- Medium, causes some problems to completing the task
- High, the user is prevented from carrying out their task
And none of the critical issues scored higher than ‘low’:
- Relevance of the search query results severity: low
- User orientation – breadcrumb trail severity: low
- Make internal, in-line links more visible severity: low
- Increase the leading of the main-section text severity: low
- Confused left hand navigation severity: low
First, I’m really pleased with the job coastDigital did; they turned this around quickly and gave me a professional report with usable recommendations.
How do I feel about this? After all these are the pages with, for the most part, my name on the bottom. Overall, there were no big surprises. When I started this job a year ago I put most of my time on the site into improving the ease with which students could find courses or programmes – this was, and still is, their number one task. I felt that we’d achieved an acceptable level of functionality regarding this task – this report goes some way to confirming this. However, it’s clear that we need to lift the ambition of the site now, really start to use it to fulfil more of the tasks our users want to do and improve its usability even more.
There will be a Part II to this, and possibly a III, when I summarise their Usability Report and then a priority list of things to work on.