Skyy Vodka by Scottrenkes

VIEWS: 96 PAGES: 15

									SKYY VODKA
Website Heuristics Evaluation
Table of Contents


A. Introduction .................................................................................. 3
B1. Information Architecture Issues ............................................... 4
          1.1. Organization & Hierarchy ........................................................4

          1.2. Meaningful Labeling .............................................................. 5

          1.3. Relevance of Information .......................................................5

B2. Layout & Visual Design Issues ..................................................6
          2.1. Use of color and typography ...................................................6

          2.2. Icon Design ......................................................................... 8
          2.3. Interface Elements Design .................................................... 9

          2.4. Arrangement of Elements ....................................................10

B3. Interaction Design Issues......................................................... 11
          3.1. Navigation .......................................................................... 11

          3.2. Predictability ...................................................................... 12

          3.3. User Control ....................................................................... 13

          3.4. Economy of Action & Time .................................................. 14

          3.5 Help & Support .................................................................... 14

C. Conclusion ...................................................................................15




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                  Page 2
A. Introduction


SKYY Vodka, renowned with it’s unique cobalt-blue bottle, is one of the top
selling brands of vodka on the US and some international markets. SKYY Spirits,
the producer of SKYY Vodka, has always been dedicated to supporting innovation
and creativity in the film community, sponsors more than 150 film festivals

around the world.



SKYY Vodka maintains an interactive website located at http://www.skyy.com.
It’s main goal might be defined as promoting and advertising the product and
various company initiatives. The site’s target audience groups are mainly
consumers, bartenders and young filmmakers. The features and overall
appearance of the website appropriatelly address the nees of those auidence
groups. The site was selected for evaluation because it’s rich content provides
a rarely good example of a product and/or company website, driven by the
needs of the visitors, not by those of the product.



The primary objectives of this heuristics evaluation are to asses to what extent
the design and organization of the site facilitate its seamless usage and to
pinpoint specific usability problems that impede the access to the information
and services provided on the website. Problems are divided into information
architecture, visual design and interaction design issues. Each problem is graded
on a severity scale from 1 through 5 with 5 being the most severe problems
that greatly impair the usability of the website and on a difficulty scale from 1
through 5 with 5 being the most money- or time-consuming problems to fix.




Prepared by:     Bilyan Belchev, bbelchev@kentlaw.edu

Date:            December 10th, 2001




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                            Page 3
B1. Information Architecture Issues


Overview
The SKYY Vodka website offers its visitors a rarely good combination of useful
features and valuable, engaging information that is hard to find on other websites.
Plenty of recipes and garnishes, bar reviews, interactive dance tutorials, cocktail
history, party tips, filmmaking tips, just to name a few, show that the contents
of the website has been carefully selected to match the needs of potential
visitors and this is one of its strongest sides. SKYY Vodka is one the few sites
that successfully blend entertainment and information. However, on the web,
the organization of information is almost as important as the information itself.
This section lists some information architecture issues that may prevent visitors
from fully utilizing the potential of the website.


 SKYY              Bar              The              The             The Citrus
 Cinema            Supreme          Informant        Sophisticate    Show


 Films             Bar Tour         SKYY News        Cocktail        The Blend        Complex organization
                                                     Times
                                                                                      scheme and unclear labeling
 The Studio        365 SKYY         SKYY                             Dance            (see 1.1 and 1.2)
                   Recipes          Events           Cocktail        Steps
 Indie Picks                                         Etiquette

                   Relax and        Guestbook                        Citrus
 Images            have a                            Cocktail        Beats
                   drink                             Art
 Film                                                                Ask the
 Awards            Links                             Lounge          Bartender
                                                     Jukebox
 Success                                                             Garnishes
 Stories                                             Links
                                                                     Recipes
 Director’s
 Chair


 SKYY &
 Cinema




1.1. Organization & Hierarchy
a. The site follows a relatively intricate organization scheme that requires a        Problem Severity

substantial amount of learning from the first-time user. The organization and         Problem Difficulty

hierarchy of categories and subcategories does not follow easy to understand
‘rules’ and fails to provide guidance through the otherwise valuable content.
This makes the site hard to use and prevents visitors from finding and accessing
the information.


SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                     Page 4
B1. Information Architecture Issues


1.2. Meaningful Labeling
a. The titles of the five main categories (SKYY Cinema, Bar Supreme, The            Problem Severity
                                                                                    Problem Difficulty
Informant, The Sophisticate, The Citrus Show) are not descriptive enough.
These titles rely on the user to explore the sub-categories and their content, in
order to understand the meaning of the title. A possible problem with this
assumption is that even if the user succeeds in finding the information the first
time, with will be hard to remember its location next time, because of the
abstract and non-descriptive titles of the categories.



1.3. Relevance of Information
a. Most the information presented in the web site is relevant to the goals and      Problem Severity
                                                                                    Problem Difficulty
tasks of the target audience. There are a number of useful features (party tips,
cocktail recipes, dance steps) that are missing from competitors’ web sites,
but there’s a noticeable lack of information and exposure of product (SKYY
Vodka) and the company (SKYY Spirits) that this site is mainly advertising. For
example, there is very limited contact information and almost no information
about the history of the product or the company, about the distillation process
of SKYY vodka and most serious of all, there are very few pictures of the
product or recipes with the product. This can potentially put the product or the
company at a disadvantage from a marketing point of view.




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                 Page 5
B2. Layout & Visual Design Issues


Overview
The SKYY Vodka website stands out with its professionally looking and visually
pleasing graphics and animations. They provide for added entertainment value
of the site and help establish a satisfying relationship with the visitors.
Oftentimes sites that offer lots of information suffer from lack of appropriate
visual guidance through that information. This is certainly not the case with
SKYY Vodka website, but there are instances where layout and visual design
could be further improved.




                                                                                    Blue text color blends with
                                                                                    the black background
                                                                                    (see 2.1b on next page)




                                                                                    Heavy use of uppercase
                                                                                    (see 2.1a)




2.1. Use of color and typography
a. All uppercase letters are heavily used throughout the site (all categories and   Problem Severity
                                                                                    Problem Difficulty
subcategories, most ‘introductory’ screens contain paragraphs of text in all
uppercase). This combined with the size and spacing of the font, is particularly
difficult to read (for example the ‘Film Awards’ screen above).




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                     Page 6
B2. Layout & Visual Design Issues


b. The saturated blue color used for titles in the ‘SKYY Cinema’ category           Problem Severity
                                                                                    Problem Difficulty
blends with the black background, and although resembling the cobalt blue of
the SKYY Vodka bottle, is hard to read.




                                                                                    The decorative font is not
                                                                                    readable and also blends
                                                                                    with the backround
                                                                                    (see 2.1c and 2.1d)




c. The decorative font used in some sections of the Citrus Show category            Problem Severity
                                                                                    Problem Difficulty
(‘Garnishes’ for example) is hard to read and sometimes blends with the
background color.



d. There is a lack of contrast between the background color and the foreground      Problem Severity
                                                                                    Problem Difficulty
color of the text in a number of screens (like the one above). Although the
colors used are consistent with a color coding scheme throughout the site,
frequently the lack of contrast between the colors makes it difficult for the eye
to identify and follow the different elements of the layout. This impairs the
usability of the web site.




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                     Page 7
B2. Layout & Visual Design Issues


                                                                                    The 5 main icons are hard to
                                                                                    identify and have no labels
                                                                                    (see 2.2a and 2.2c)




                                                                                    Again, nondescriptive icons
                                                                                    without permanent labels
                                                                                    (see 2.2b and 2.2c)




2.2. Icon Design
a. The icons used for the main 5 categories (top-right corner) seem to carry        Problem Severity
                                                                                    Problem Difficulty
little descriptive value. Also, they are too detailed and hard to identify. This
reduces the efficiency of the primary navigation bar, and thus makes the site
harder to navigate.



b. The icons used for the tools bar (bottom part of the page) look randomly         Problem Severity
                                                                                    Problem Difficulty
selected and have no relationship to what they are supposed to represent (a
star for ‘resize window’, two circles for ‘drink of the day’). This makes the
tools menu and its functions hard to learn and use - every time the user will
have to check the meaning of the icon before using it.



c. The icons for both the primary navigation bar (top-left corner) and the tools    Problem Severity
                                                                                    Problem Difficulty
bar (bottom) do not have permanent labels and lack additional explanations of
their contents. This added to the non-descriptive icons impairs the functionality
of these navigational aids.



SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                    Page 8
B2. Layout & Visual Design Issues


                                                                                        Mouse pointer changes on
                                                                                        mouse-over but nothing
                                                                                        happens when logo is clicked




                                                                                        There are no visual cues to
                                                                                        distinguish hyperlinks from
                                                                                        normal text and graphics.
                                                                                        The url is not a link, but the
                                                                                        pictures to the side are.
                                                                                        (see 2.3a)




                                                                                        The scrollbar does not show
                                                                                        how much text is left
                                                                                        (see 2.3b)




2.3. Interface Elements Design
a. The site does not follow established conventions for the use and design of           Problem Severity
                                                                                        Problem Difficulty
interaction elements like hyper links or scroll bars. One of the most serious
problems with the visual design of the site is that it is hard to distinguish
between hyper links and normal text and graphics. There are ambiguous or no
cues to tell the user what is clickable and what is not. There’s no established
style of how the links would look (different font, size, color). This is an extremely
important issue, because it directly affects the experience of the user in a
negative way.


b. The site also uses its own implementation of scroll bars (a triangle pointing        Problem Severity
                                                                                        Problem Difficulty
up and a triangle pointing down). The problem with this implementation is that
there is no actual ‘bar’ to tell the user his relative position to the beginning and
the end. Thus, when reading some text, the visitor cannot tell how much is left,
which can be very frustrating.




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                           Page 9
B2. Layout & Visual Design Issues


c. There are some elements throughout the site that appear to be clickable (the      Problem Severity
                                                                                     Problem Difficulty
mouse pointer changes) but do not have functionality like the SKYY Vodka
logo in the top left corner. This can be confusing for the user, thus reducing the
quality of his experience with the site.




                                                                                     Every page uses a different
                                                                                     arrangement of elements,
                                                                                     which makes the user learn a
                                                                                     new layout scheme for every
                                                                                     page visited
                                                                                     (see 2.4a)




2.4. Arrangement of Elements
a. Almost every page layout is unique and rarely follows an established page         Problem Severity
                                                                                     Problem Difficulty
grid, thus looking somehow chaotic. There seems to be a little organization of
the elements on a page (‘Bar Tour’ above or ‘Lounge Jukebox’ under ‘The
Sophisticate’). This makes the user learn a new layout for every page and
prevents him from forming a strategy for ‘scanning’ and understanding the
pages quickly. This can add to the frustration of the user and further reduce the
usability of the site.




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                    Page 10
B3. Interaction Design Issues


Overview
It is apparent that great efforts have been made to make every visit to the site
a unique interaction experience. Exciting animations and stunning sounds will
amuse even visitors with the most refined taste. But there are specific navigation
and interaction problems that prevent some users from completing their intended
tasks fast and easy, which is a primary concern in web design.


                                                                                      Browser toolbars missing
                                                                                      (see 3.1c)

                                                                                      If an icon is clicked, it always
                                                                                      becomes the first icon
                                                                                      (see 3.1a)
                                                                                      The title of the current icon
                                                                                      and its subcategories
                                                                                      disappear on mouse-out
                                                                                      (see 3.1b)




3.1. Navigation
a. If an icon from primary navigation bar (top-right) is clicked, it always becomes   Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
the first icon. Even if this might be though as a way to show the user his
current location, it makes the navigation bar inconsistent and very hard to use
because every time the icons are rearranged in different order. Visitors are not
used to such kind of behavior because it prevents them from forming a consistent
mental model of the menu.



b. The title of the currently selected icon (and its subcategories) disappears on     Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
Mouse-Out (that is, if the mouse pointer is not over the icon). This hides from
the user his current location and next available options, which greatly impairs
his ability to navigate through the site.



c. Visitors are used to the browser’s ‘Back’ and ‘Forward’ buttons because            Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
they are reliable means of navigation. Those buttons, as well as, all the browser
toolbars and menus are hidden. This removes a number of functions, which
visitors are used to. This can be very annoying for a large number of users.

SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                         Page 11
B3. Interaction Design Issues


d. It is hard for the user to tell his current location relative to the overall structure   Problem Severity
                                                                                            Problem Difficulty
of the site, since there are no navigational aids like “breadcrumbs” to provide
a sense of space and orientation. Forming a mental map of the web site and
his current location is very important for the success of the user in achieving
his tasks.



e. Crucial navigational tools like a search box, site map, or help section are              Problem Severity
                                                                                            Problem Difficulty
missing. These can be remarkably important for finding the specific information
a user is looking for.



3.2. Predictability
a. Usually when clicking a hyper link, users are expecting to see a page with               Problem Severity
                                                                                            Problem Difficulty
information or available options. But if the user clicks one of the 5 main icons,
he is presented with a long looping animation. Although the animations are
visually pleasing, they frustrate the user because he is sent to a ‘dead end’
page.



b. As already mentioned in section B2.3, it’s very hard to tell which elements              Problem Severity
                                                                                            Problem Difficulty
are clickable and which are not. The user should not be forced to try and point
to every element on a page to see which ones are clickable.


c. From time to time, a new browser window pops-up to display some of the                   Problem Severity
                                                                                            Problem Difficulty
information on the web site. This is done without any prior notification and can
be frustrating for many users. It is best to keep the amount of window
‘housekeeping’ to minimum.




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                         Page 12
B3. Interaction Design Issues




                                                                                      Recipes can be viewed only by
                                                                                      alphabetical order, which is
                                                                                      unusual (see 3.3c)




                                                                                      Those options for window
                                                                                      size are also unusual and
                                                                                      selections are not preserved
                                                                                      (see 3.3b)




                                                                                      The button for music off
                                                                                      does not turn all sounds off
                                                                                      (see 3.3a)




3.3. User Control
a. It is good that the site provides an icon to turn the music effects off. But the   Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
problem is that there is no way of turning the sound effects off. These sounds
are irritating especially if the visitor is listening to music during in the same
time.



b. The site offers options of resizing the browser window. Normally, the user         Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
will do that by just dragging the edges of the window. The problem is that none
of the options for the size of the window or the music effects are preserved
from one visit to another. This might be a feature to improve the user control
over the site.



c. Some tasks offer no alternatives of how they can be achieved. For example,         Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
the 365 recipes in the Bar Supreme section cannot be organized or sorted in
any other way but alphabetically, which might not be what users always want.




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                       Page 13
B3. Interaction Design Issues


3.4. Economy of Action & Time
a. Visitors are first shown a splash screen instead of the home page, which           Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
opens in a new window when the logo is clicked. Although they can be used
for plug-in detection or promotions, it’s a “best practice” to avoid splash screens
where possible, because they are distracting to the users.



b. Users are forced to wait for long, slow animations and large graphics, and         Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
although visually pleasing and entertaining, they can be irritating if the user
uses a slow connection or has some particular task in mind.



c. The site relies entirely on the presence of the Flash plug-in on the user’s        Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
machine. It is true that Flash allows for very appealing and interactive designs
but if the plug-in is not installed, no parts of the web site can be reviewed and
the user will be required to first download and install the Flash plug-in without
even knowing if he wants to visit the site or not. This may present a limitation
for users with older browsers.



d. Users are required to learn a complex organizational and navigational scheme,      Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
which may be a hindrance on their way to the rich contents of the web site.


3.5. Help & Support
a. There is no help or FAQ section on the site, where users might look for            Problem Severity
                                                                                      Problem Difficulty
solutions to common technical problems. Also, no feedback form or webmaster
contact information is provided. While those tool are rarely used, their presentce
helps establish confidence in the website.




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                                                   Page 14
C. Conclusion


Undoubtedly SKYY Vodka has a content- and feature- rich website that is a
valuable and reliable source of information about recipes, cocktails, party tips,
dance lessons and much more. The site manages to present the information in
a very attractive manner, but in order to expand into the powerful marketing
tool it can be, a number of usability issues need to be addressed.



One of the primary concerns in web design is ensuring that visitors will be able
to successfully acomplish typical tasks in the least amount of time. Fixing the
identified problems would provide easier and faster access to website content
for existing and new visitors as well as allow the site to become “best of
breed” among competitor websites. Also, having a usable and accessible
website greatly improves the credibilty and trustworthiness in the company as
a whole, while the opposite may deteriorate company image and frustrate a
large number of customers.



Fixing some of the problems (like displaying browser toolbars or removing the
splash screen) is easy and does not require a redesign strategy. Maybe it’s
best to address those issues in the short-term plan. But there are also
fundamental design problems (like style of hyperlinks or page layout) that cannot
be resolved without affecting the overall look and feel of almost all areas of the
website. That is why it might be neccessary to evaluate the need and options
for a partial redesing of the SKYY Vodka website in the long-term perspective.




        For further information, comments or suggestions, please contact
        Bilyan Belchev at bbelchev@kentlaw.edu




SKYY VODKA Website Heuristics Evaluation                                             Page 15

								
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