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Heuristics Evaluation Report http://www.whitehouse.gov

Rutu Upadhyaya 23 June 2008 Email : rutu.upadhyaya@gmail.com


Heuristics Evaluation Report of http://www.whitehouse.gov

23 June 2008

Introduction This is a heuristic evaluation of the website http://www.whitehouse.gov. The 10 heuristics used in this report were developed by Jacob Nielson – 1.

Visibility of system status (keeping users informed about what is going on and where they are in the website)

2. Match between system and real world (using standard words, phrases and concepts) 3. User control and freedom (ease of browsing with clear exits of unwanted state / page) 4. Consistency and standards (following norms and standards for text and icons) 5. Error Prevention (preventing occurrences of error) 6. Recognition rather than recall (visibility of objects, actions and options) 7. Flexibility and efficiency of use (allowing users to tailor frequent actions) 8. Aesthetic and minimalist design (graphical layout and design of the website) 9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors (ease of understanding error messages) 10. Help and Documentation (easy to search and locate help and documentation) Each aspect of the evaluation categorizes the website’s usability as per the above heuristics list.

Website Description The website is an informative site providing data and news about the USA government. It also serves as a study medium for children wanting to know more about the government, country and President. The website also holds information about the USA business, economy, community, education, environment, health, foreign affairs, national security, nominations, retirement and space exploration.

Target Audience / User Profiles This website is intended for a wide audience. • • • • • •

People who want to know more about the Whitehouse as a building. People who intend to look for information on touring and visiting the Whitehouse. People who want to know more about the government. People who want to know about the political issues and politics related news. People who want to know about the President (past and current) For children to read and learn about the President and politics.

Rutu Upadhyaya

email: rutu.upadhyaya@gmail.com

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Heuristics Evaluation Report of http://www.whitehouse.gov

23 June 2008

Evaluation Environment Hardware and software used for evaluation. Computer Details Web Browser OS Connection Monitor Colors Monitor Resolution Monitor Size Date of Evaluation

Firefox 2.0 Windows XP Cable 300kbps 32 bit 1280 x 768 15” 20 June 2008

IE 7.0 Windows XP Cable 300kbps 32 bit 1280 x 768 15” 20 June 2008

Positive Impressions Overview • •

The website homepage has a neat, clean and formal look with categorically placed links / data. The main headings / categories are clearly visible (fig 1)

Figure 1

Page load time is very fast.

Figure 2 http://www.iwebtool.com/speed_test

The “Latest News” section on the homepage has a new image every time one visits the site – this circulation of images / news keeps the user interested in reading more.

Problems Overview While the website does have an overall clean look, it does have some problems like • • • •

Text size being too small. Visibility of links. Hierarchy of links. Issues with the search page

These are just some of the errors on the website; more detailed descriptions are listed below.

Rutu Upadhyaya

email: rutu.upadhyaya@gmail.com

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Heuristics Evaluation Report of http://www.whitehouse.gov

23 June 2008

Website reviewed – http://www.whitehouse.gov Ratings Heuristic

= well done Issue

(a)Navigation

= minor issue Observation

= medium issue

= severe issue Rating Other related heuristic

Clicking on any link from the side bar, takes you to a page with a long navigation list e.g. clicking on “Defense” on the homepage, takes you to the budget page but the hierarchy shows Home>News & Policies> Policies in focus> Defense

Figure 3 http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/defense/

(b)Navigation 1. Visibility of system status

The hierarchy list stops at “Budget management” clicking any further within the budget page does not change the hierarchy, causing user to get confused as the user has to remember which all links have been clicked to get to a particular page.

3. User control and freedom 6. Recognition rather than recall

Figure 4 http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/budget/2009/s tates/ca.html

(c)Navigation

Clicking on the “kids” link at the top right corner takes the user to the Whitehouse Kids page with no obvious / clearly visible link back to the original homepage. (The link back to the original

5. Error prevention

homepage is given directly at the end of the page)

2. Match the real world 3. User control and freedom

(a)Layout

(a)Navigation

(a)Layout 4. Consistency and standards

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The entire layout of links and articles is laid out categorically and logically. Making it easy for the user to quickly scan and find what they are looking for.

(b)Text

Refer 1. (b) Series of clicks from homepage – budget management > map on right sidebar> CA selected from map The header and left sidebar remain constant in almost all pages.

1. Visibility of system status 8. Aesthetic and minimalist design

The text illustrated in the figure below shows bold blue text which gives the impression of being links to descriptions of the title.

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Heuristics Evaluation Report of http://www.whitehouse.gov

23 June 2008

Figure 5 http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/budget/2009/i ndex.html

(c)Naming of link

The links to the page of the first lady on the top of the page and bottom of the page are both listed as “First Lady”

Figure 6 http://www.whitehouse.gov Figure 7 http://www.whitehouse.gov

Then if the user visits the sitemap the same link is written as “Mrs. Bush”

Figure 8 http://www.whitehouse.gov/sitemap.html

(a)Navigation Refer 1. (c) 5. Error prevention

(b)Layout Refer 4. (a) (a)Navigation

6. Recognition rather than recall

Refer 1. (b) User needs to remember how many times they clicked to get to a particular page.

7. Flexibility and efficiency

(a)Link to top of page

8. Aesthetic and minimalist design

(a)Layout

Rutu Upadhyaya

email: rutu.upadhyaya@gmail.com

1. Visibility of system status 1. Visibility of system status 1.Visibility of system status 9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

There is no link to take you to the top of the page on pages that have long articles. The user has to keep scrolling to the top. Overall website gives a clean, organized and formal look.

(b)Layout

Refer 4. (a)

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Heuristics Evaluation Report of http://www.whitehouse.gov

(c)Text Size (d)Text and background contrast

23 June 2008

The text size is very small which makes it difficult to read. Even though the text for the links on the left sidebar is dark blue on white background, it is not legible as they are not bold enough.

Figure 9 http://www.whitehouse.gov/index.html

(e)Search

After any search the user is taken to a page with list of articles. The top of the page has three images which are overpowering the search page.

Figure 10 http://www.whitehouse.gov/search

(a)Navigation

9. Help users recognize, diagnose, and recover from errors

Refer 6 (a)

(b)Search (c)Search (a)Sitemap (b)Help

10. Help and Documentation

(c)Help

(d)Help

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1. Visibility of system status 6. Recognition rather than recall

A search was conducted with a wrong spelling. Suggestions are made and articles as per the suggestion are listed Advanced search shows up only at the bottom of the page, only after you try a simple search. The sitemap gives a good overall and categorized view of the entire website The help section has help on navigation, tools (search), file formats (with link to downloading and installing acrobat), accessibility and communication. There are no links provided for real player and media player downloads. Also link provided for the acrobat download is not clearly visible / highlighted. If the user directly goes to the podcasts, there is no note as to what kind of software the audio clip will or can be played in.

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Heuristics Evaluation Report of http://www.whitehouse.gov

23 June 2008

Figure 11 http://www.whitehouse.gov/radio/index.html

Suggestions 1. Visibility of system status a. [Issue 1 (a) & (b)] The user should always be aware of how he/she got to a particular page. While it is good that the header and left sidebar remain constant in almost all pages. It is also very important that the navigation hierarchy is clearly listed and lets the user keep track of where he/she has been. For example – If the user has gone to “Defense” from the homepage. The navigation hierarchy should be Home > Defense If the user goes from Home to the budget of CA state then the navigation hierarchy should be Home > Budget management > States > CA b. [Issue 1 (c)] Even though the link to “kids” page is actually a part of the website, it does not show any immediate way to get back to the main Whitehouse homepage. It looks like an external website. The link back to the original homepage is provided at the end of the page but is very inconspicuous.

2. Match the real world a. [Issue 2 (a)] The website does speak the users’ language by laying out links categorically. (no suggestion)

3. User control and freedom a. [Issue 3 (a)] Refer Suggestion 1. a.

4. Consistency and standards a. [Issue 4 (b)] Platform conventions must be followed along with logical outlook. The text on page http://www.whitehouse.gov/infocus/budget/2009/index.html is made to look like links which they are not. Those set of texts are titles and should be provided as links to details of the article. b. [Issue 4 (c)] There has to consistency in a way a page is named. Either it should say “Mrs. Bush” everywhere on the site or it should say “First Lady”; considering the fact that they both take you to the same page.

5. Error prevention a. [Issue 5 (a)] Refer suggestion 1. c. Rutu Upadhyaya

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Heuristics Evaluation Report of http://www.whitehouse.gov

23 June 2008

b. [Issue 5 (b)] No suggestion.

6. Recognition rather than recall a. [Issue 6 (a)] Refer suggestion 1. a.

7. Flexibility and efficiency a. [Issue 7 (a)] Surfing the website should be easy and efficient for the user. Simply creating a “Top” link towards the end of the page which will take the user back to the top makes it convenient for the user.

8. Aesthetic and minimalist design a. [Issue 8 (a) (b)] No suggestion. b. [Issue 8 (c) (d)] Even though text sizes can be changed on a browser, it would be better if the user does not have to go through one more step to simply “read” the text. Changing font size or even making it bold will make the text more legible.

9. Help users recognize, diagnose, & recover from error a. [Issue 9 (a)] Refer suggestion 1. a. b. [Issue 9 (b)] No suggestion. c. [Issue 9 (c)] Any user who does a search would want options listed for a more streamlined search. Even though this is available, it is positioned at the end of the search list. By simply reorienting the page and giving search options at the top would make it more user-friendly.

10. Help and documentation a. [Issue 10 (a) (b)] No suggestion b. [Issue 10 (c) (d)] The website calls for using certain software to open documents and listen to podcasts. The kind of software that would the website would access to open a pdf or an audio file should be clearly stated. Also, even though the “Help” section has details about the file formats, it should show visible links for downloading and installing the software required (preferably opened in a new window).

Conclusion The website has been very well laid out with subtle colors and well marked categories. While there were no serious issues found with the website, there were approx. 9 minor issues and 5 medium issues with the website design and layout.

Rutu Upadhyaya

email: rutu.upadhyaya@gmail.com

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Heuristic Evaluation  

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