Choose a Web site you visit regularly, one where you read a lot of the content. Let’s imagine that you have been hired as the site’s new editor-in-chief. Make specific recommendations to improve the presentation of content at the site, integrating and referencing this week’s module as much as possible. What elements or features promote consumption of the site (again, think of all the elements described in this module)? How are graphics and visuals incorporated in the site and do they encourage or discourage use of the site? How do they do this?
Website: Yahoo! Finance (http://finance.yahoo.com/)
Target Audience: Users who want to access a fairly wide range of financial information, including stock quotes and news articles on individual market sectors, available in an organized fashion for free. Yahoo! Finance has a very large audience; the site gets nearly triple the traffic of any other financial site on the Web, according to PC World.
Organization of the Site:
- Homepage. The homepage is fairly simple. Attention is directed to the top of the page, where the stock search bar is. This is very important, as stock quotes constitute most of the traffic to Yahoo! Finance; the site caters to what Steve Krug calls “search-dominant” users who navigate the site using its search tool. All you have to do is type in a stock symbol and all its information is at your fingertips. No matter where you are on the site, the are usually three ways to return to the homepage: The Yahoo! Finance logo on the top left corner, the Home Page hyperlink on the top right corner, and the tab that says “home”, on the top left corner just below the main logo. One also finds the top financial headlines at the center of the page, and a summary of the U.S. market to the left. (In most pages of the site ads are placed to the right with other features.) There is a fair amount of whitespace, and the site design is far from exciting, but I’m able to access basic information like the stock price of my stock(s) within 5 to 10 seconds.
- Site Navigation. Stock search feature on the homepage, so users can access quotes on any stock instantly; known as catering to “search-dominant” users. At the top of the page there is a set of tabs that separate content by subject, and within each sub-heads there are sub-heads to narrow interest even further. Almost all of the information within the site is presented in an orderly fashion. However, the problem is that making the non-highlighted tabs white makes them more difficult to notice on the page. That sort of navigation should be very clear to the eye, as it is far too important for the site to leave as is. I would use a dark, contrasting color such as the navy often used within the sight to better show the navigation bar.
- Interest Levels. Almost all of articles presented on the site are newswires from other sources, such as the AP, online newspapers, and websites of the companies themselves. Many of these articles use the inverted pyramid form of writing, identifying the major points at the very beginning of the article and leaving minor points towards the end. Each stock quote page contains basic stock information as well as links to more detailed articles, including charts, company profiles, statistics, and recent newswires on the company and its sector. The website does a good job of catering to different interest levels; readers view as much or as little as they like. My main complaint is the lack of interest that I have in the advertisements. As a reader I like to see content which is relatively ad-free, but the ads fail to accomplish the goal of grabbing one’s attention and getting a reader to click. This is partly because these ads are often placed out of the way, where they are difficult to see. From a purely capitalistic perspective, Yahoo needs to place those ads in more visible spots. For example, the space above the search bar on the homepage is not being used; an eye-catching ad should be placed there (changed on a daily basis) to get as many clicks as possible.
Conclusion: While there are several design flaws on the Web site, Yahoo! Finance does an excellent job in helping the user to find exactly the information they need in very little time. The home page is efficient and navigation is neatly organized. It’s doesn’t have an ultra-cool design, but the site gets the job done. And ultimately, that’s what keeps me coming back.
Although it will never be as entertaining as getting my financial news from Jim Cramer.
Steve Krug, “Don’t Make Me Think”. His website: www.sensible.com/
Nathan Wallace, “Writing for Many Interest Levels”.
PC World article on traffic at financial sites.