Monday, 2 November 2009

Digital Greenwich - The website review

As I mentioned in the previous post on the Digital Greenwich project, I was in charge of finding whether the Greenwich council is doing an effective use of the web as a medium. The overall result, in my opinion and regarding my review, is that the website for the borough of Greenwich, though it could be upgraded in many aspects, is built in a way which tries to satisfy its visitors in the best way possible.

"I'm trying here.."
First things first, I visited and browsed it randomly. The interface could be much better, but it might just be me, as I don't like this not green color. Apart from the over-than-average user interface, I really appreciated the sense that the site was "shouting": 'I'm trying to help you find what you're looking for in the fastest and easiest way'. Functionality is the point and something functional cannot be anything but beautiful anyway. So:
1. There are many links in the first page. This increases the possibility for the visitor to find immediately or in just 1-2 clicks what he or she is looking for. However, this has a major disadvantage, since a large number of hyperlinks in a single page makes the user to get lost, but:
2. The font size is satisfactory, the texts are short and the layout of the objects displayed is clear-cut. All these factors make the homepage and every subpage of the Greenwich Council website easily understandable, readable and navigable.
3. The level of customization is really good with the option of increasing/decreasing the font and
changing the theme (albeit there is no chance to avoid the not green colour completely). Also, I like the hyperlink for listening the page, when unable to read. I mean, which way better a site could say, 'Hey, I'm trying to help you here..'.

In my opinion, there isn't any better way to check a website's content than its Site Map, a tactic which works similarly for books. Looking at the site map of a man can see tons of thoughtfully categorized (for navigability's sake) services, which try to anticipate every single reason for which, the user could have visited the site. This is not easy if we take into consideration that the user group of this particular website includes: Greenwich's citizens, businesses, tourists and dozens of others. Overall, everything seemed straight-forward and functional to me.

The (need of a) comparison
Since, there isn't any way to consider something as good, average or bad, unless there is something to compare it with, I visited the website of the borough I currently live in, The homepage looked OK but in the subpages the font was really small and the submenu was terribly hard to use, even read. Anyway, apart from the UI comparing the contents of both websites, I appreciated this awesome sense of functionality in Greenwich's website. Being more specific:

1. Firstly, links like "Search" (hm, there is already a search box right up there), "Text only" (which navigates to a 'sorry for unavailability' page), "Life events" (navigates to this unimaginably useless page) are absent in the Greenwich's homepage since they were wisely considered as not That important.

2. As for the content, the same fact remains, with pages as "How strategic desicions are made", "Your council", "Key documents" and many more of the Southwark's website not existing in the Greenwich's website because thoughtfully the creators of the latter realized that even though it might be cool for such a page to exist, no-one is going to look for it, and it would rather create frustration than coolness.

The Grade

for Greenwich's website compared to Southwark's. This sense of discipline to effectively provide services via the website, and to fulfil the visitors' needs is awesome; it's the point, what truly matters.

Re-viewing my review, I should definitely do this comparison thing in a much better depth. I am currently working on this topic, and what I see is that some other councils of London have really interesting websites! A  detailed post to come then. [..] The post did came, and here it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment