BBC News website

Introduction

The BBC, ailment the British Broadcasting Corporation, case aka the Beeb or Auntie to its friends is the UK most important media organisation funded through licence fees producing TV and Radio programmes for the UK and internationally. The volume of what the BBC produces is truly gargantuan, with eight TV channels and eleven main radio stations, plus local programming and more commercial channels broadcasted internationally, and all this has to be represented under one website. So how does it stand up to the challenge?

Form

Two of the most important factors are, as always, navigation and branding, but the site also wins with a good search option, functionality, and surprisingly few dead links. Let’s start with the branding, at which the BBC have been traditionally – and necessarily – excellent. Their logo and navigation bar is visible on all pages, and each channel (eg. Radio 4) and classification (eg. Arts) has their own bar with its own logo and look which holds consistently with the BBC brand. Each of these sections has their own complimentary colour scheme – funky colours for Children’s pages and more muted colours for the ‘serious’ stuff such as news. The consistent layout style helps to keep everything cohesive while allowing each area to maintain its unique feel and does this without falling into the trap when using content management systems of looking boxy and bland.

Function

With the volume of content – and the Beeb have decided to be enormously generous with both current and archived material – the navigation of this site is absolutely key, and the BBC’s answer has been to use a number of approaches. The major sections are always available at the top of all pages, as is a search box. On the left side of the page, a navigation bar is present and options change to fit with the context of the page. The right hand side of the window provides useful links for recommended programmes. In true British Institution Tradition, filing has been fully embraced and one of the most useful features is to be able to browse from an a-z listing of programmes, both current and off-air. The keyword search feature works very well, though this is a section where the branding of the site seems to fall down, looking a little incongruous and clunky by comparison to the rest of the site.

The site’s best feature is the Radio Player, which opens in a new window and allows you to stream live or archived programmes using the free-to-download RealPlayer media engine. This works very smoothly, and contains its own navigation, making it incredibly easy to jump between channels using drop-down menus and a-z listings. Streamed TV clips of news, weather and programming is available though a similar method, but is less successful and the quality can be quite low. Well-maintained forums and a great deal of further information on programmes offer a feeling of depth and community to the site – check out www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/archers on the famous Archers radio series – there’s even an interactive map on the fictional village of Ambridge!

Conclusion

This is an excellent example of how to manage a massive amount of content effectively, bringing together a disparate range of programming and genres under one well-branded umbrella. The generosity of content ensures browsers return to the site regularly, and additional features really go the extra mile. As a victim of its success, some areas might be missed due to the size of the site – make sure you visit the Collective area – www.bbc.co.uk/collective which is a fantastic site on contemporary culture in the UK.


Sitecritic.net award

www.bbc.co.uk.1
fig 1. Progessional layout

www.bbc.co.uk.2
fig 2. Arts section

www.bbc.co.uk.3
fig 3. Another section

www.bbc.co.uk.4
fig 4. Another section

Wow Website

Introduction

Lego.com is a reputed online toy store and community website with very handsome traffic. The journey throughout website is exciting and I am sure many kids will be attracted by it.

Form

At a first glance, the website looks very cool, giving the user a pleasant impression. Flash animation is part of the website, although the website is still loading very fast. The logo and graphics look awesome and striking. Anyone can understand what they are trying to say and the service that they are providing.

Lego.com brand is uniform throughout the website. The top menu is consistent for each and every web pages, providing a cool surfing experience. Relevant colorful icons are used in the top menu to enhance the navigation system. The web site is designed for English and Deutsch version and it looks extra-ordinary on each and every page.

Overall, the design is clean and neat. Creative Images and colorful icons drive the theme of the site. Flash Animation on the homepage shows that the website is updated on a regular basis.

The color balance is good and very effective for catching the user’s attention especially for kids. All the images are optimized very well and the positioning of each images are planned properly.

Function

The Navigation system looks very nice, but from SEO point of view, it is not suggested to use images in the navigation system. Alt tag is not used on images. But, other than that, it is awesome.

– The Quick links enhances the navigation system. It provides all the necessary links to user with different topics like products, club, shop and legoland.

– The Powerful search facility provides easy solution for users to find stuffs on website. There are 2 search boxes, one on top and the other at the bottom section of the site.

There are 2 sections on their homepage that are reserved for product promotion. The Featured product is packaged in an attractive flash animation, which is update regularly. “What’s New” is a section that includes promotional news with images and links which is again, another good example of product promotion.

Conclusion

Lego.com is very nice and the most professional looking website I ever seen. The navigation system is easy to understand, images and flash animation is extra-ordinary, simply awesome. If I were to give a rating to it, I would say 10 out of 10!

Website With Professional Touch

Introduction

The British Council is an organization in the UK that builds mutual cultural relations with the UK and other countries, treat promoting education, ambulance art, science and culture. BritishCouncil.org is an excellent, user friendly website packed full of information and visual artistry.

Form

The British Council brand shows the prestige and interest of the organization without being presented as ‘stuffy’ or pretentious. The royal blue against a white logo is a nice contrast and sets the stage for an aesthetic theme throughout. The logo itself is simple in design yet gives the British Council a strong image.

The only brand element I would like to see, in addition to an attractive logo, is a tagline. On the home page, the words “Creating opportunity worldwide” appears to be the tagline to use, however the presentation of this may inhibit the message. (fig. 1) I specifically set out looking for a tagline and unconsciously ignored this particular header many times before finally reading it.

The design of the website, a standard 2-column throughout the website. On the home page, the addition of photos and design elements create an artistic presentation though do not distract from the purpose of the website. The balance of white space to design elements allows for proper flow of information. The user is able to visually move freely from section to section without confusion or difficulty.

The color scheme consists of royal blue and various shades thereof. As one of the most popular colors, blue is known to promote calmness and relaxation, as well as professionalism. As a branding principle, this color works very well for this genre of website.

The photos are professional and relevant to content available through the website. I would however, like to see the media component transition a little smoother. The ‘jumpiness’ of the transitions can be a little distracting.

Function

The navigation options are straightforward and contained in easy to find areas of the website. On the home page the top navigation bar is directed toward the user’s interest in the British Council opportunities and education. The bottom navigation bar is dedicated to the organizational aspect of the British Council. By separating the interests and the organizational aspects, the user can easily navigate to any desired section.

The JavaScript menus in particular are very nice and eliminate ‘link clutter’ that is found on other websites. The design is clean and the code seems to be well managed, producing a streamline, non-glitchy menu.

One element of the navigation that I particularly like is the very top text tools that give users frequently used options such as Print, Email this page, Add to favorites, etc. (fig. 2) This feature is very nice for this type of website, and the Text only option is superb – giving access to those who have dial up access, or just wish to navigate the page without being distracted.

Once the user has left the homepage, particularly through the top navigational menu (Arts, Science, Society, etc.) the website navigation changes to topic specific navigation. (fig. 3) I like the themes and variations on specific topics, however, the main navigation from the home page no longer exists, nor is there any immediately noticeable way to get back. I would like to see at least a link that specifies “Return to the British Council Home Page” or something to that effect.

The advertising and promotion on the website is predominantly found throughout. On the home page, there are four components that represent good methods of self-promotion. (fig. 4) Each of these mini-sections is effective in creating user interaction by allowing them to watch a streaming video, find out what countries are involved with the British Council, send an E-card, or other. Given the unofficial 3-second rule (the online standard of interesting the audience in 3 seconds or less), the user is immediately given something of interest to ‘click’ without feeling forced to read information.

Conclusion

Overall, the British Council website provides a clean, effective, and efficient presentation method for providing the wealth of information and opportunity they provide. The organizational structure is well managed and the entire site is aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly. With some minor adjustments to the navigation on interior pages (or interior sites, to be more exact) the user will have no difficulty exploring and learning.

B & Q – diy.com Website

Introduction

Located in the UK, hospital B&Q is a DIY (do-it-yourself) home improvement and garden store. The B&Q website is a good example of what a retailer should strive for on the Internet.

Form

The B & Q brand is exceptional. It is evident that this company has taken a great deal of time to create an effective color scheme and image for, case not only the company, but the website as well. Overall, this type of branding works well for the home improvement and do-it-yourself retailer.

The design of diy.com is very clean and effective. Categories are nicely placed with complimenting design elements and separated into respective areas. (fig. 1) The color scheme, predominantly shades of orange and white, is enhanced by the addition of color such as green and blue. These color additions bring in and attract interest to a variety of products and areas throughout the website.

The three-column design of this website works well and divides information in a way that the user can easily navigate beyond the home page. In general, the form of this design gives the user the image of professionalism and comfort needed in an online environment.

Function

The navigation of this website is very clean and concise. At first glance, I was impressed at the amount of navigational options presented. The tactful use of multiple navigational elements caters to many different types of users. These elements display products and links in many different ways to attain user interest, whether the user migrates naturally to the search area, the left or top navigation, or straight to the body. (fig. 2)

In addition to the multiple options, the navigational categories are also divided up into sections – those relevant to products and services, and those relevant to the company. This makes it extremely easy for the user to find his or her way around without having to hunt down what is needed.

The advertisements and promotions on this website are definitely noticeable and, above all, they are not offensive. Tactfully, diy.com has placed most advertising elements in the right hand column while various color deviations bring the offers the attention they need. (fig. 3)

The top navigation also includes a “Special Offers” section that leads to a page dedicated to discounted merchandise, making it convenient for the user to view current deals. (fig. 4)

Conclusion

Overall, this website has been well planned and organized. B&Q has successfully given the user an easy to use and aesthetically pleasing interface. As an online presence, diy.com shows strong branding, design – both layout and navigational, and really knows how to indulge the user.

The leader in Online Marketing

Introduction

Commission Junction is a popular online advertising company and has a number of big clients including ebay in their portfolio. This site has a strong corporate identity and a very user friendly navigation system. I usually judge a website by my first impression and this site certainly got my attention.

Identity

The corporate colors are used effectively on every page. The headers of each section are highlighted in strong green, click providing a good contrast with the white background. The faint CJ graphic embedded in the flash movie on the top right provides a subtle reminder of the brand. Looking at the CJ logo, I thought more characteristics of the circular shape or some curviness could be used throughout the pages.

Navigation

The site utilizes an easy navigation system with the top level “Solutions, Our Clients, About Us” on every page. All the links are easily visible user friendly. The client login system on the home page is very well thought of. However, the country navigation script on the top right hand corner seems to be abit slow.

Navigation trail or bread crumb is often used in many web sites to provide easeness in navigation. The bread crumb in this site is hard to see because its color does not contrast with the green background. The links below the page have the same problem.

The flash is not heavy, so it does not slows down the loading time. Overall, the site loads quite fast even on a dialup modem.

Design

All the pages in the site are very consistent in terms of typography and layout. Important headings are bolded and all the texts are easily readable. The layout is effective with dotted lines separating different sections. The spaces around the text and images makes the page neat and tidy, improving user experience when navigating the site. The orange color is well used to balance out other colors on the page.

Most important of all, the graphics used are appropriate and presentable. (Graphics can spoil a great site or makes a crappy site looks great.)

Conclusion

www.cj.com is well organized and presentable. The web site designers must have gone through a long planning process to create the site. It is all worth the effort.


Sitecritic.net award

Easy Navigation System.
Easy Navigation System.
Breadcrumb is hard to read.
Breadcrumb is hard to read.
Consistent Spacing between text and images
Consistent Spacing between text and images