Some constructive criticism
Posted by: The Other Joe ()
Date: January 27, 2001 05:32AM

A few comments...

A good web site requires as much or more effort at good interface design than anything including graphics design.

Good interface design requires attention to some very important considerations. The number one rule for interface design is that new users don't want to feel dumb and experienced users don't want to be slowed down. A second rule which is really just a corollary to the first is to always put the user in control. The web site, while having lots of attractive graphics, seems to violate these rules.

The flash graphics are flashy and all, but you've made them an integral part of your web site. You've eliminated the choice of any prospective visitors who don't or can't have Flash on their systems. The design is also lacking a means of skipping the whole animation sequence. It's neat the first time you see it, but after that it is just a bore. And it takes too long to get to the part that is actually navigable. At a minimum, a "skip flash" option should be present. The proactive dance is OK, but it's been done too many times already. A parallel non-flash site should be reachable from the home page.

The zippy flying marquee seems to serve no purpose other than it may have been fun for the author to write. As an interface aid, it is distracting. And it provides the only active cue that a user must actually click on any of the notes for something to happen. The natural reaction is to treat it like any other marquee type thing and just ignore it after first looking at it. Only after a few moments of not wondering what to do next do the eyes return to the marquee for the clue that you are supposed to hit the notes.

The little navigation scale is a cute touch but it is not readily apparent what each of the notes do. You actually have to navigate to each of them to discover its purpose. Even your biggest fan isn't going to remember the hidden purpose of each of the note buttons between site visits. This will just slow her down. Hiding the interface from the user discourages him from using it. Doing the wavy line thing when moving the cursor over the notes is another cutesy graphical geegaw that serves little purpose. It actually distracts the user from noticing that the hint that shows the function of the note has changed. It takes time and attentiveness to actually figure out the interface the first time.

Having the note play the actual note is a useful thing for those who want to just muck around and play songs, but the absence of sharps keeps me from playing my favorite Arena keyboard riff from The Movie Drome which is some compulsive behavior of mine. Actually the notes are a tad disconcerting the first time and annoying after that. Multimedia functionality built into the interface is generally a dangerous endeavor.

Another suggestion is to make the visual cue that additional content exists on subsequent sub-pages slightly more prominent to draw attention to it.

Another primary rule of interface design is to keep the interface familiar. Every web user is accustomed to the function of the Back button on the browser toolbar. After navigating to one of the note sub-pages, the back button takes the user back to the site's home page instead of back to the previous web page with just the scale thing. Putting a "don't press the back key" message seems like something that too many web designers do, but what it tells the user is: forget about your familiar web navigation paradigm and adjust to mine because it's cooler, better, or whatever. Either way, you don't want a user to have to think when navigating your pages - you want the basic navigation experience to be like every other web page.

A final criticism is that the use of the keyword sex in the metatags is not likely to provide you any benefit and is quite cheesy if you are actually selling music.

An overall summary is that your designer should have put a little less ego and a little bit more user into the site. I'd recommend that he check out http://www.useit.com and that site author's book Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity by Jakob Nielsen. Please receive this as constructive criticism. If offense is taken, The Psychology of Computer Programming by Gerald Weinberg is a good resource.

Joe

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SubjectViewsWritten ByPosted
What do you think? 104 Darren 01/27/2001 03:28AM
Re: What do you think? 88Pumpkinhead01/27/2001 04:13AM
Some constructive criticism131The Other Joe01/27/2001 05:32AM
Re: What do you think? 74 Rogue 01/27/2001 09:06AM


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