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Website Design Issues Website Evaluation

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									Website Design Issues: Website Evaluation
         AIL 605 Assignment 3




             Chris Inman
       The University of Alabama
              10/16/2007
                     Guidelines: What makes an Effective Website Design?

       Creating an effective interactive instructional website is a multi-step process of graphic

design. During this process designers analyze their intended audience, identify their message’s

purpose, decide how the message will appear, establish goals and objectives, organize text and

graphics, and determine the proper mix and layout of design elements (Gibbs, 2007). Perhaps

more importantly, effective websites should avoid several potential problems, including

tombstoning, trapped white space, claustrophobic pages, unequal spacing, and too many

typefaces (Gibbs, 2007). Simply stated, an effective website should be simple, consistent, clear,

balanced, harmonious, and unified (Skaalid, 1999). The site should be: simple in that only text

and graphics which are absolutely necessary should be used, consistent in that the page layouts

are consistent and predictable, clear in that the message should be only what the learner needs to

know, balanced in that objects and items on the page should be in symmetrical balance,

harmonious in that fonts and colors are the same, and unified in that all the items appear to

belong together.

                                    Choosing a Good Website

Good Website: A Rationale

       The example of a good interactive instructional website I have chosen to discuss is

Digital History (http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/). The rationale provided is based upon the

guidelines as established by Bonnie Skaalid in Multimedia & Webpage Design Principles

(1999). Digital History is an online U.S. History interactive resource for students in grades 9-12

and college students, and grades 9-12 secondary social science teachers and college instructors.

The site provides an online U.S. history textbook, primary document and resources, learning

modules, classroom handouts, interactive games, an interactive timeline, lesson plans, and virtual
exhibitions. Students can visit the site to look up primary documents, peruse the online textbook,

play interactive games, and visit the virtual exhibitions. Teachers and instructors can brush up

on content knowledge, find lesson plans and handouts, and incorporate any of the interactive

elements into their own classroom teaching.

       This site has been chosen for several reasons. The messages presented at the site are

simple, as there are no superfluous or unnecessary graphics or text. Each page on the site is

consistent, with a design template in place for the navigation bar to the left and the header at the

top. Messages are clear, as text is short and direct. The pages are balanced, as text and images

are displayed in such a way as to provide a balanced appearance. The site is harmonious in that

fonts and colors are consistent, images match the text and the topic, and graphics are appropriate.

Finally, the site presents a sense of unity in that all of the pages appear to belong together and

flow logically.

Good Website: An Evaluation

       The evaluation tool used to evaluate the website is the Learning Object Review

Instrument (LORI) provided by Nesbit, Belfer, and Leacock (2007). According to the authors, a

learning object could refer to “a single image, a page of text, an interactive simulation, or an

entire course” (Nesbit et al, 2007, p. 2). In the context of this evaluation a learning object will

refer to an entire course (I am considering the Digital History site to be an entire course). LORI

evaluates nine areas: content quality, learning goal alignment, feedback and adaptation,

motivation, presentation design, interaction usability, accessibility, reusability, and standards

compliance (Nesbit et al, 2007).

       Content Quality. The content on the various pages of the site appear to be thorough and

accurate. The site is sponsored by the history department and the College of Education at the
University of Houston. There also appears to be an appropriate level of detail, though too much

information is provided at times. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being the lowest score and 5 being

the highest score, Digital History receives 4 points out of 5 for content quality.

       Learning Goal Alignment. Learning goals are not explicitly declared, but the overarching

goal of using technology to enhance the teaching and learning of U.S. history is apparent. The

material presented on the pages of the site supports this goal. Digital History receives 4 points

out of 5 for learning goal alignment.

       Feedback and Adaptation. The content on the site can be adapted to support different

types of learning, but the pages are dominated by text. Options for feedback are also limited.

Digital History receives 3 points out of 5 for feedback and adaptation.

       Motivation. The site would certainly motivate college students completing history

research, but high school students, many of whom are not necessarily interested in history, would

not be sufficiently motivated by the text dominated pages. Digital history receives 3 points out

of 5 for motivation.

       Presentation Design. The information is presented in a consistent, pleasing design. Text,

graphics, images, and white space are utilized well. Movies and interactive games are provided

when appropriate. Digital History receives 5 out of 5 points for presentation design.

       Interaction Usability. Navigation of the pages is easy and the interface is entirely

predictable, with no surprises. Digital History receives 5 points out of 5 for interaction usability.

       Accessibility. Much of the content is not presented with learning disabled students in

mind. However, since the pages are text dominated the pages are sufficient for mobile/distance

learners. Digital History receives 3 points out of 5 points for accessibility.
        Reusability. The content within the site is highly reusable in different contexts. Digital

History receives 5 points out of 5 for reusability.

        Standards Compliance. No standards are listed, so I have no choice than to give this

criterion a mark of “not applicable”.

Good Website: A Conclusion

        Out of forty possible points, Digital History receives a total of thirty-two points. Thirty-

two points divided by forty points gives Digital History a score of 80%. Although the site does

not score as “great”, it is a good site which presents accurate content in a well designed format.

                                      Choosing a Poor Website

Poor Website: A Rationale

        An example of a poor website I have chosen to discuss is Gamequariam.com

(http://www.gamequarium.com/). Once again, the rationale provided is based upon the

guidelines as established by Bonnie Skaalid in Multimedia & Webpage Design Principles

(1999). Gamequariam.com is supposed to be a site for elementary school teachers and students,

but it is truly difficult to tell due to poor graphic design of the site. The site provides links, too

many links, to interactive games and puzzles for students and resources for teachers.

        The site was chosen for several reasons. The messages of the site are difficult to

understand due to an overabundance of links which may take you to the content you are hoping

for find, or to more links. The pages on the site are not consistent in layout, though the

background and the text remain the same, though that is not a good thing. The pages are not

balanced, because you honestly do not know what you are going to see when you click on a link.

Pages are not harmonious, as the fonts and background do not match, and in fact these elements
make it difficult to navigate the site. The site is not unified, as many of the pages do not appear

to be part of the site.

Poor Website: An Evaluation

        Once again, the evaluation tool used to evaluate the website is the Learning Object

Review Instrument (LORI) provided by Nesbit, Belfer, and Leacock (2007). LORI evaluates

nine areas: content quality, learning goal alignment, feedback and adaptation, motivation,

presentation design, interaction usability, accessibility, reusability, and standards compliance

(Nesbit et al, 2007).

        Content Quality. The content, if you can locate the content on the site, appears to be

accurate. However, the bulk of the content is not store at the site, but rather linked to other sites

and resources. Also, there is simply too much information. Gamequarium.com receives 2 points

out of 5 total points for content quality.

        Learning Goal Alignment. Goals are not specifically stated, though one might assume

that the site helps K-5 students learn different subjects and to read. Gamequarium.com receives

2 points out of 5 total points for learning goal alignment.

        Feedback and Adaptation. The content on the site can be adapted to support different

types of learning, but the pages are difficult to navigate and content is sometimes difficult to

locate. Options for feedback are also limited. Gamequarium.com receives 2 points out of 5 for

feedback and adaptation.

        Motivation. If the content can actually be located, the site would certainly motivate

young children to play games and to learn, but again, finding the content is difficult, and the

design makes it tough to read. Gamequarium.com receives 2 points out of 5 for motivation.
       Presentation Design. While the design is consistent for some pages, it is consistently

poor. The background and font clash and give the reader a headache. The front page is also

cluttered at the top with a myriad of directions for how to reach different websites.

Gamequarium.com receives 1 point out of 5 for presentation design.

       Interaction Usability. Navigation of the pages is difficult and frustrating. Some links

take you directly to content, while others send you a journey of link after link.

Gamequarium.com receives 1 point out of 5 for interaction usability.

       Accessibility. Much of the content is not presented with learning disable students in

mind. Also, since the pages are link heavy, the loading of pages would take much longer than

normal. Gamequarium.com receives 2 points out of 5 points for accessibility.

       Reusability. The content within the site, if you can find it is highly reusable in different

contexts. Gamequarium.com receives 5 points out of 5 for reusability.

       Standards Compliance. No standards are listed, so I have no choice than to give this

criterion a mark of “not applicable”.

Poor Website: A Conclusion

       Out of forty possible points, Gamequarium.com receives a total of seventeen points.

Seventeen points divided by forty points gives Gamequarium.com a score of 42.5%.

Gamequarium.com tries to present too much information. Not only does the site attempt to

cover all subject areas for K-5, but it also presents way too much information for all of the

content areas. Furthermore, the navigation is not predictable, and at times, frustrating. Finally,

the graphic design is terrible, and it gives you a headache if you look at the site too long. Serious

redesign must take place on this site.
                                        References

Gibbs, B. (2002). The basics of graphic design. Tuscaloosa City Schools Online Technology
Learning Center. Article retrieved October 16, 2007:
http://www.online.tusc.k12.al.us/tutorials/grdesign/grdesign.htm#princdes

Nesbit, J., Belfer, K., and Leacock, T. (2007). Learning Object Review Instrument (LORI):
        User manual. E-Learning Research and Assessment Network. Article Retrieved October
        16, 2007: http://www.elera.net/eLera/Home/Articles/LORI%201.5.pdf

Skaalid, B. (1999). Multimedia & webpage design principles. Web Design for Instruction.
       Article retrieved October 16, 2007:
       http://www.usask.ca/education/coursework/skaalid/page/design/webdsgn.htm

								
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