Both users found the website to be standard and not interesting. Tomas mentioned how although at first glance the navigation site seemed straight forward, he found the dropdown menu to be very distracting, as all categories unfold at the same time when hovering over only one in the main page (see image).
Scanning the University website for the school mascot wasn’t a simple task. They both assumed this information should be under the athletics link; however, this section consists of long paragraphs with links in-between words difficult to perceive by the user. The user must read all the information in order to know where to go next. Yet users avoided reading the paragraph until the frustration of not finding the answer lead them to it.
Does the school offers foreign language instruction for Arabic?
Finding out if Boston University offers Arabic courses was the most tedious task for the users. As you can see above, it took them a significantly amount of time and clicks to find the answer. Perhaps, finding a course in a University website should be one of the easiest task to do for any user, yet the inconsistency of the links in the BU website was clear since the beginning of the interaction making it hard for anyone to complete the task.
The users oversaw the information, passed by it and omited it completely because it wasn’t clear to them. The side banner was unappealing and the users were misdirected around the site several times. In occasions, they were tempted to click around the page even though they knew the links being clicked wouldn’t lead them to the target point.
The nearest airport to the school
Scanning for the nearest airport was a simple task for the users. They both immediately scrolled down to the footer of the page and clicked on the “Maps” link.
For this exercise I’ve chosen to solve the task that produced the highest amount of pain points, based on the time and the amount of clicks it took the users to find it. This task was -to find if the university offers Arabic courses.
The inconsistency within the links in the website leads to unpredictability making feel the user lost and confused. Therefore, I have created the following paper prototype:
- First, I will suggest to eliminate all the negative space in the home page. This will help increase the discoverability of the links and it will give the website a more clear and appealing look.
- Second, when hovering over one link in the main page the dropdown menu will only show the options for the category selected. This will help the user perceive the information selected and it should make it easier to comprehend.
- Third, redesign the breadcrumb trail that shows the user where they are in the site. Placing it in the center of the page and making it bigger will help the user identify the category where they are and its options.
- Forth, same titles and images, although in different pages, should link/lead the user to the same outcome to avoid any confusion.
- Last, people tend to relate side banners with publicity or related links, so they run by them without paying much attention. Placing the side banner, that contains a menu of categories, on the left side will make it more visible and it will help the user discover information easily.
Through this activity, I learned that to truly gain insights about a problem and work on any hypothesis it is important to run usability testing in several users. Both users had similar responses which confirms that familiarity with the US education system is an independent variable that doesn’t change the result.
In addition, consistency and visibility are big factors on any design to deliver the desired information. A bad design will confuse and lose the user.