Parents – Send your kids to pbskids!

Introduction

PBS Kids has a huge selection of interactive kid’s games, showcasing TV characters that kids love. The website is designed in flash and is one of the best children website out there.

This is the second review for pbskids.org. Check out the kids section.

There’s so much to look at and play with on this site, kids will be kept busy for hours! With exciting graphics and interesting things to do, the kids don’t have to know the TV characters to enjoy themselves. A lot of work has gone into this website and it shows.

Form

The pages in PBS Kids seem to be simple and well laid out, with minimal (but important) information to focus on. These aspects are especially suitable for children’s websites, where the kids need to have clear choices about where to go in the site. The main activities mostly happen in the centre of the screen (where they should be) and the buttons, pictures and text are clickable and reactive. There is sound, so make sure you turn your speakers on to hear!

I was impressed with the interesting way the designers managed to use bright colours throughout the site, while keeping the central, interactive parts the main attraction – this is the hallmark of an experienced web designer or team of designers – design is all about communicating the message and these people have done it well. Backgrounds are exciting but well thought out and general site info that wouldn’t be interesting to kids is contained in subtle, out-of-the-way places, as it should be. Graphics are cute and attractive as well as loading quickly, and anyone who has worked on this site would be proud to put it on their resume.

I’d suggest that the age group targeted would be 4-11 year olds.

I encountered a Flash message on navigating from the main page to some of the character pages and although it was necessary, it was a bit boring compared to the rest of the site. Since it was left aligned and in a standard web font it didn’t really fit with what else was on there – maybe dressing this up while keeping it fast loading would help with consistency?

Function

The website is made of html pages with CSS coding (mandatory on a huge site like this), with javascript functions for the interactivity and in some cases, flash objects. Flash movies with sound and fast loading rollover gifs (javascript) make up the bulk of the games and interactive parts.

Navigation is quite simple due to the minimalist approach where pictures say more than words. I don’t think many kids would have trouble navigating on this website as the choices are pretty obvious. All navigation appears to work and goes to the right page. PBS Kids is a great example of how a huge children’s website should be built.

I really enjoyed the lack of obvious advertising in this website, as the only advertising at all seemed to be in the fact of playing with the TV cartoon characters. As a parent who often has to stop the kids from wanting to buy everything, websites like PBS Kids mean that the most amount of work required from a parent at a later stage would possibly be to tune in to the TV shows. At the same time, I guess PBS Kids has a website in the first place to attract people to their shows!

The games within the website are excellent and will hold kid’s attention. An example of the games contained include lots of printables, lots of scenarios with interactive play such as online cooking (you click on ingredients and the character cooks a meal), click and drag items, online books and much more. Lots of fun and some new stuff here as well.

Conclusion

PBS Kids is a great website for kids – I highly recommend a visit there as it is educational and interesting. The huge variety of things to do will keep kids busy for hours and the website is reasonably fast loading, so the kids can have some fun at their pace online. To the designers of this website – pull out the champagne and give yourselves a pat on the back – you have earned it!


Sitecritic.net award

www.pbskids.org.1
fig 1. Central focus area on page

www.pbskids.org.2
fig 2. The boring Flash message

www.pbskids.org.3
fig 3. Online cooking game

Food At Click Of A Mouse

Introduction

merosys.com is a website that provides online food ordering service. Users order the food online and the shop receives the notification email. The shop needs to pay a monthly fee though.

Form and Function

The homepage looks corporate. The intelligent use of red and white is pleasing to the eye. You know their mission statement, products and and services by just visiting the home page. This is good communication and it is amazing that many professional sites fail to do that.

The only comment I have on the home page is the footer. The links are too small and doesn’t stand out on the grey background. The body text is fine because of the white background but the footer, no (see. fig 1).

Overall, the icons are nicely done. Perhaps what is lacking is some real pictures. It might be a good idea to add more pictures in the home page? I want to see the staffs behind the team.

Not too sure if the word “buzz” is the approrpiate word for news. Yes, there were only 2 news and the last one was created on 6th May 2007. I think it is important to keep the website updated by updating the news. It can be something as simple as “Happy New Year 2009”. This is important because it tells the user that someone is managing the site.

The tour section is nicely done (see fig. 2). Perhaps having a live demo is an even better idea. Oh, they do have a demo site but it is hidden too deep in the pricing page.

Under the article section, users can choose to view the articles online or view it as a pdf. I see this as a cool feature. The only thing I don’t like is the IE icon (see fig.3). 5 years ago, IE was the preferred browser but today, the story is different. I prefer to have a more browser neutral icon. There aren’t alot of articles on the page, so I wonder if subscribing to the rss feed is any good.

Conclusion

merosys.com does leave a good impression on its visitors. It looks professional and should be considered as “above the average by a good margin”. The design is professional but unfortunately, cannot be considered as unique – not a biggy. However, I do like the way the home page communicates. It should therefore be a good candidate for the Content Excellence Award.

www.merosys.com.1
fig 1. Grey on grey does not stand out

www.merosys.com.2
fig 2. Cool mouseover menu

www.merosys.com.3
fig 3. www or pdf. Why IE icon? Don’t like firefox?