Big Name Sites Still Not Considering User Goals

Some of the redesigns of late have been rather good (step forward Stop Design and Justwatchthesky; not so fast Mezzoblue, although that comment highlighting script is kind of interesting). And then there's that whole "Design Eye for the Usability Guy" thing, which just made the rest of us feel inadequate (but at least you gave us a good chuckle in doing so).

So good, in fact, that some people might be thinking, "how am I ever going to succeed in web design with all these talented people about? The web departments of any large company or agency must be filled with folks way better than me."

Well, recent experience enables me to report that this is simply not the case and that some of the biggest names in the business still have a long way to go.

Video Game Fan

I am a huge video gaming fan, and love the Medal of Honor franchise, and so it was only natural that I recently checked out EA's web site for Medal of Honor Pacific Assault to see how the game was shaping up.

I particularly wanted to read about the new "Invader" multiplayer mode that another gaming site had mentioned, and so I clicked on over to the relevant page.

Shock! Horror! Tiny Text!

Imagine my horror and surprise on loading the page and being faced with paragraphs of the smallest text I have ever seen used for body copy on a commercial web site. Somebody actually expects me to read that? And what about the monster paragraphs and the lack of sub-heads to break up the content?

Never mind, I thought, although it's a bit of a pain, I'll just increase the text size on my browser (an IE clone called Avant Browser). Nothing. Doh! They've only gone and set the font-size to pixels! So, I fired up Firefox, increased the text-size, and read the article.

But I wondered how many other people would have an alternative browser they could use to work around this problem, and, indeed, how many people would even know you can change the text size in your browser?

I used to have a gaming web site, and from my stats, by far the majority of my visitors were using IE6. So, you folks are s*** out of luck there.

Screen Resolution

The other thing is that a lot of gamers have their monitors set to higher resolutions such as 1152x864 or 1280x1024. I have mine set to 1024x768 (I'm getting older so I need to take care of my eyesight), so I can only imagine how small the text must appear at these higher resolutions! Hmm, what word means "smaller than tiny"?

Talk about not knowing your audience (or at least not giving them more than a moment's thought). I can't believe that user-testing this site with even a couple of people wouldn't have picked up these glaring problems.

So, back to my point at the start of this post. Don't judge yourself against the best - take a look at all the "big name" crap out there that someone got paid to do, and know that you can do better. Heck, you might even want to throw in a web standard or two!

Posted on: June 13, 2004 | No comments

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