October 03, 2005
good and bad web designs
My search for a good website brought me to, http://www.thinker.org/index.org, and a more difficult search led me to http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/
I did a google search of Museums to find well-designed websites and I was not disappointed. There are some beautiful and beautifully designed websites for museums all over the world, but since I donít read any other languages I narrowed my search to American museums. I settled on the home page for the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, FAMSF. The site is a great example for me to critique since Iím not familiar with these museums and I am a perfect example of the stupid user (I need to learn the hypertext symbols for emphasis). The name of the site does not give a connection to the FAMSF. The URL is http://www.thinker.org/index.org. It is easily found through a google search.
The home page is for two museums, the Legion of Honor and the deYoung Museum. The home page is colorful and interactive with one picture in the middle of the page moving and changing. The movement does not distract from the clarity of the page presentation. The navigation column is on the left of the page and remains in the same place for subsequent links. It took me a minute and some clicking to determine that the larger logo for FAMSF above the navigation column is the ever-present way to return to the home page.
There is not a site map link, but the website is easily navigated even by users like me. Each page is colorful as you would expect a museum site to be, and I even found a display of one of the exhibits. The education section is a little weak, but it matches the exhibits and there are some good links. I didnít find other links that would enhance the website, but for a self-contained site it is clear, colorful without getting in the way, concise, and easily navigated.
I spent some time looking for a bad website design, but Iím such a novice surfer, I didnít find anything awful except one guyís personal website from York, England. I didnít think it was fair to criticize him. At Millís suggestion, I looked back at the websites I perused about the English Civil War and found one that is a great source of information, but it is big and complicated.
Take a look at http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/. Iím sure it is used a lot by researchers and/or educators, but itís so big that itís easy to lose your place and not be able to find your path back. I am speaking of stupid users like me, and, according to the readings, websites like Spartacus should be directed to people like me. Spartacus is for text/narrative readers who feels more comfortable with books, but there is too much text for a website. The blue links are all over the page and they make it confusing to read.
The navigation is all over the map, and the downloads in the middle of the page take forever. The website is full of facts and information, but itís too big and unfocused. All the informational links have a box with Ask Jeeves and google ads at the top of the page. These take up space and look out-of-place. If youíre looking for an encyclopedia of history, Spartacus is a good place to look. It is not, however, well-designed
Posted by scarson1 at October 3, 2005 02:42 PM