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Competing Search Engine: Excite


For this usability test, I wanted to showcase an internet search engine that clearly shows why Google, Yahoo, and other are better than it. For this review, I examined A website called Excite which aims to combine a search engine with an all-in-one page at the same time. Obviously, other competitors have been able to succeed at this (i.e. Yahoo), but this website just falls flat on it’s face. It uses the same color scheme in boxes spread out seemingly randomly. I have a hard enough time with 2 panel websites but this one adds to the confusion with a 3rd panel.



Not only do some of the panels repeat, but even the ads repeat. Which also I must mention are spread randomly throughout the page. If all the ads (there were more below this screen) were not the same it would also be extremely confusing to tell the difference between the video and advertisement. Another thing I have a problem with is inconsistency. From panel placement, to ad placement, to even the top bar are inconsistent. One of the first panels “Best Fares” is even just a mirror duplicate. Pay attention at the very top panel of the page, the left side is rounded but the right side is squared. Those sorts of problems completely trouble me when it comes to aesthetics.

Without setting this website or creating an account, everything other than the search box is useless. All the boxes are set up for current users so instead of displaying weather, or games, it just tells me to edit my details or input a location. None of this is user friendly and nothing is geared for a first time user. Overall this is not a pleasant user experience and makes me never ever want to return or use their services.


David makes great websites…

This was a particularly horrid website I came across when searching for a way to remotely capture data. First off, the entire thing is just white. The use of color greatly bothers me because as I was reading all the randomly spaced things on the page I literally felt my eyes in pain. Between the plain tacky electronic business card smack dab in the middle of the page, I felt myself having to strain across the white background to get to each individual island of data.

Secondly, the use of space is just atrocious. Everything seemed bigger than it needed to be, while at the same time still not rendering full screen. There was an abundance of white space around every individual item. Additionally, the borders and separators do not actually span the entire screen. I found all this just mind boggling. This is a person who advertises that he makes website, and his own personal website is a just bad.

There are also ads spaced all around in quite sporadic places. While I scrolled down (and let me tell you there was a lot of scrolling down) I couldn’t tell what was an ad and what was content. The Amazon and GoDaddy ads are quite obvious but down below I wasn’t sure if they were domains of his or just ads. This was confusing to me because the top 25% of the page was obviously an advertisement for him and his business. Yet the bottom 75% of the page was all text that looked similar to that you would find of a domain that no longer exists and has been thus replaced by ads.

Follow this link to view the whole website

Readings 9/19

These readings cover Cooper 8, 12, 13, and 14 & UX 22

We covered these topics back in the student presentations so now I will be looking back on them to see which topics I have actually used and which ones I have noticed for being important in regards to the usability reports. Interaction design was the first to jump out at me as something we continue to work with. Through our data collection for UR4 our goal is to improve a human situation. We are doing this experiment to see what the CGT graduate website is lacking and how to aid the design to make the situation easier for users. We are conducting this ethically, ie promising not to hurt the subjects (and following through with the promise) and making it an enjoyable task for them. We are also recording all the interactions, just like the book suggests in order to understand what goes on and really do our best to improve it.

The next topic was designing behavior and form. Once again this is able to be tied into the UR4 project as we are aiding in the design of an updated and more useful website. One of the key tasks is to place areas of interest into places that make sense or are though of as “common sense”. We received a few different cases of feedback for where items were or were not “where I expected them to be”. The goal of the website should be to be as easy and considerate as possible for make the user satisfied. The website shouldn’t ask the user a lot of questions as well as the idea that the user shouldn’t have to ask the website a lot of questions.

I understand the importance of metaphors but so far in our projects and URs I haven’t used them too much.

Visual design is paramount in regards to website design. Users searching for various topics are using things such as shape, size, value, hue, orientation, texture, and position to locate keywords. Especially when it comes to the task of finding key courses for the CGT degree they are looking for a list of things. This list can be denoted by detractors such as bullet points, lists, bold font, and more. Spacial grouping also can set this list aside from other requirements or things that may distract them. One subject accidentally navigated away from the graduate website and was alerted of this by the changing banner and knew he had gone to the wrong place.  This detection was noted due the the visual structure of the website. You may also consider that each layout will be the standard to each dominion of the website’s architecture.

MS Word Error

Something particularly frustrating happened to me today while trying to work on a document. I have exported a macro enabled document from my work computer to my computer at home and MS word is refusing to play well. When trying to execute a command from the macro screen, it is presenting me with an error dialog which will not allow me to proceed.


Microsoft has done a good job providing detailed instructions on how to resolve my problem. The issue moving forward, is that it has locked out the main Word window behind it. So not they expect me to memorize this laundry list of steps in order to fix this issue. When trying to move forward with my work, I found myself forgetting what to do next several times over. In order to find out what I was supposed to do next, I had to commit the same error again and try to further remember what to do next and what I has already done.

This is a good example of an error box, while well made, still causing me great frustration. In order to maximize its value, I would need access to the Microsoft options, which they have inconveniently locked me out of.

Readings 10-3

Cooper Ch 4

This chapter begins with a heavy comparison between qualitative research and quantitative research. Both of these two methodologies have great contributions to research, but for the sake of this subject and this class, it appears qualitative research is the better route. The authors focus almost entirely on qualitative research, showing that it is used for, how it helps designing projects, and activities it is particularly useful in.

The rest of the chapter involves interviews. Due to my knowledge throughout this course I know these interviews will go into how to design the personas used. Many people will need to be interviewed for other activities as well though. For example, besides just customers, SMEs will also need to be interviewed so that the product contains design adequate for expert users. There also also multiple ways to conduct these interviews. Some of these ways include contextual inquiry and how to prepare for ethnographic interviews. Within these topics focus groups are also a relevant topic. One thing I did not notice while reading, was including base surveys or questionnaires to gauge opinion and test topics before conducting these interviews.

UxB Ch 3

This chapter also covered heavily on the process of interviewing humans. On top of the interview methods, the chapter also talks about other steps in preparing for data capture. One takeaway I received was the practicality of a concept statement. The concept statement is a short descriptive summary of what the system will essentially do. This is trying to make a really brief description that encompasses the large scale concept along with the short wins. It reminds me a lot of an elevator speech for your design. The author provides examples of questions you can use when developing your concept statement.

Instead of the general research approach, the data collection mentioned in this chapter is used for operational settings. It is much much harder to obtain operational data so at least in my field, operational testing is nearly farfetched. I would have liked it much better if the chapter focused on scenario testing. Some aspects do indeed carry over, such as trust, rapport, and video recording. These observations are important for any data collection and we will even be applying them to our 5 person small scale usability study. Along with video recording, it is also very important to take notes and to record other things aside just from the interaction. As we learned in class time on task, success rate, and other rates such as levels of assistance are important.

The world around you is not what it seems

Source post available here

This interesting blog post highlights an effort by Google to launch a game through augmented reality that takes place in real life. Ingress is a smartphone app that will allow users to collect items, gain energy level, and do things out in the physical world in order to gain points in the game. By traveling to different locations and visiting different places, users will complete objectives.

“Ingress also aims to get people out in the physical world, both for physical activity and to see their surroundings in a new way.”

The concept is very strange but it may get users to move away from sitting behind the computer all day playing World of Warcraft. Anything to get people out and moving is always a plus. It will even encourage additional human interaction and could actually end up being a pretty cool idea. This is definitely still in super early stages, but implementing things like this to Google Glass is a very interesting concept.

The video trailer can be seen here:


So Newegg has a new contest about signing up and winning a ton of different items…Except presently it is impossible to sign up.

You would expect better from a technology company such as Newegg but they failed hard with this contest. Users are currently unable to submit contest entries due to a missing birth date. If you look closely, you will notice there isn’t even a spot to input your birthday.

I was actually able to find forums that complained about this very thing. Apparently if you view the HTML for the website they have actually incorporated the field but accidentally hidden it from users. It’s just one of those unexpected problems that is certainly frustrating. It’s not a long form to fill out by any means but still, those were valuable seconds wasted filling out a form for nothing!