Re: Website Analysis

From: Philip Mak <mfraser_at_SEAS.GWU.EDU>
Date: Tue 23 May 2000 09:49:59 -0400 (EDT)

> I represent Happy Jack, Incorporated and our website
> address is Please visit our site
> and provide any feedback you can pertaining to any of
> the common measurable characteristics of a website. I
> look forward to your responses.

I will comment on your site from the point of
usability, that is, how easy is it for the user to use
your site. Usability is important because if they can't
use your site, they won't buy anything from you.


Your site uses frames, and the design takes up a lot of
screen space. The frames do not appear to add any extra
functionality to the page. I would suggest not using
frames and just using normal webpages. The
disadvantages of using frames here include:

1. Some search engines don't index framed sites as

2. There is less scrolling area in the screen because
of the frame, which means the user can see less of the
page at a time. Also, your site requires 800x600
resolution in order to be easily navigable. Somewhere
between 10-30% of internet users are still on 640x480
resolution, meaning they need to use the horizontal
scrollbar to see all of the page which is frustrating. is a
particularly bad example: On an 800x600 screen, one can
only see THREE LINES at a time!


The image buttons on your site do not have ALT tags,
such that navigation for a visually impaired user,
text-only user, or user who has images turned off is
very difficult. This will typically affect about 5% of
your visitors.


You may have noticed that most links on web pages are
blue, while links that to URLs you have already visited
are purple. Most users know about this and rely on it
to help them keep a sense of where they are. Because
you use image buttons instead of links in colored table
cells, there is no way to use standard link colors.
However, this is not that big of a problem since your
site does not have very mange pages.


In, it says
"If there is no Happy Jack retailer in your location,
please place your order online...". Why not make "place
your order online" a hyperlink? Have it go directly to
your online ordering system. Make it easy for the user
to order.

In, it says
"You can also request one of our beautiful, full-color
catalogs to be sent to your door." You could make
"request" a hyperlink and have it link to


On, instead
of just having the form and the "Request a Free
Catalog" button, I would also suggest putting text such
as the following before the form:

:To receive your free catalog of our (talk about how
:many products you have, what type of products, what
:they do, etc...) products, fill out the following form.
:You will be immediately sent a confirmation e-mail and
:should receive the catalog within one week. However if
:you prefer, you may view our catalog online (include
:the hyperlink here).

This text helps encourage the user to request the
catalog by telling them what they're getting (also
makes that page look more professional, and the user
feel more comfortable), and also reminds them that they
can view the online catalog (in case they prefer to
view it online, but didn't notice the "Online Catalog"
link or something).


One thing you might want to do to keep visitors coming
back to your site is to put up a bulletin board type
thing. In the "Ask Jack" form, there could be a radio
button that asks "Would you like this question to be
private?" If they answer No, then the question and
answer can go up on the bulletin board for other
visitors to browse. You could even make the bulletin
board freely writable by your site's visitors (but that
does mean you will have to assign someone to moderate
the board and remove inappropriate postings; if you
can't do that, its probably better not to make the
board freely writable).


At the bottom of the page, there is a smiling dog that
changes to "Contact Us" if the mouse is moved over it.
This obscures the "Contact Us" button, and anyone who
does not happen to move the mouse over the dog will not
see this option and thus won't find your e-mail
address. They can still see your phone number, but they
may not feel like calling you (especially if they have
to disconnect their internet connection in order to
make a phone call).


The "Back to List" and "Check Out" buttons are not very
easy to see. Most users expect these buttons to be at
the bottom of the screen (just below "Your total is:
$6.00") in the center. Also make them bigger. If they
can't find the "Check Out" button, they can't finish
their purchase.

If you are interested in reading more about web
usability, I recommend you go to
They have a bi-weekly newsletter that talks about
current web usability topics, with archives dating back
several years.

You may also wish to check out Jakob Nielsen's book
"Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity".
In the web design community, it is generally accepted
as the number one design book; I have read this book
personally, and learned a lot about usability from it.
On, it is the 69th most popular book. Find
out more here:

Hope this critique is helpful,

-Philip Mak (

Received on Tue May 23 2000 - 08:49:59 CDT


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