Five changes I’d make to the new Web User beta design
A month ago I asked Web User how they had the cheek to review other websites when theirs had such a tiny font and was laid out with tables. They replied that they agreed and were looking forward to their new design. It's now here in beata.
I think we can agree that (1) it's much better and (2) they must be the most organised people in the world if they can remember to tweet someone a month later asking what they think of their new look!
Also, they're going about the redesign in a sensible way. They've launched it as a beta - this gives them a change to get feedback, correct any errors and generally warm people up to the idea. Not like that godawful Delia Smith relaunch.
However, here are 5 changes I'd make before it goes fully live.
1 Adjust the IA
They used to have 5 main categories. They've now got 11 - too many to get your head round. I'd go back to fewer if I were them - for instance, I found the old 'Product reviews' label a lot clearer than the new 'products' label.
My recommended list of main categories would be:
- News, blogs & podcasts
- Hardware, software & website reviews (which would also include the games section). This could be just 'Product & website reviews' if my suggestion is too long.
- Help & advice (which would include broadband, especially the broadband advice section; and also the video section as they are all advice videos).
I've cut the number but given them longer titles to make it much clearer what each one is.
The current win and magazine 'sections' could be kept, but I would treat them differently visually. They aren't the same sort of thing as the main categories.
2 What's a link?
I think the visual language and the use of labels needs adjusting - at the moment some headings are links and some aren't, and it's not clear which is which.
So on the home page, the big 'Problems solved' heading is a link but 'Product and Website reviews' isn't. This isn't clear visually.
The problem is partly caused by the IA issue - they've combined the reviews under the heading but because the reviews are split across sections, the heading can't be a link to just one section. My IA / labelling suggestion will fix this.
Making it more obvious what's a link will hopefully enable to ditch the 'All ....' and 'More ....' links which are a bit of a mess and should be unnecessary.
The same also applies to the 'Read the solution' links (just make the Q the link - this will also be better for SEO).
3 Watch for tiny text
There's good use of typography in general. But occasionally some tiny text has snuck in - I never like to see font-size:x-small ...
4 Fill the category pages
There's not much on some category pages - this is probably the IA point again....
5 Make the newsletter sign up box clearer
I'd put some information about the benefits in this box - give me some motivation to click it.
Right, I hope those helped ...
If it was me, I'd reconsider what's the most important thing for the homepage. Is it really news? They know their users better than me, but I wonder if news is really the most important section as its position at the top implies ...