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National Geographic: An evaluation of 3 features based on the heuristics of usability

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In this Case Study I’m going to explore 3 features of nationalgeographic.com and look at ways to improve them.

A

TV

Browsing the National Geographic TV offering and finding a show to watch

B

Open Explorer

Finding out more about Open Explorer and discovering Expeditions

C

Expeditions

Searching for a Trip

Usability Heuristics for Evaluation
  1. System Status Visibility
  2. Real-World Concepts
  3. User Control and Freedom
  4. Consistency and Standards
  5. Error Prevention
  6. Recognition vs. Recall
  7. Flexibility and Efficiency of Use
  8. Aesthetics and Minimalist Design
  9. Error Recognition, Diagnosis, and Recovery
  10. Help and Documentation
Quick Review Legend
  • Positive
  • Negative
  • Neutral
  • n/a

A: Finding a show to watch

Evaluation

Quick Review
  • System Status Visibility
  • Real-World Concepts
  • User Control and Freedom
  • Consistency and Standards
  • Error Prevention
  • Recognition vs. Recall
  • Flexibility and Efficiency of Use
  • Aesthetics and Minimalist Design
  • Error Recognition, Diagnosis, Recovery
  • Help and Documentation
Summary

The user needs to know what they are looking for or have a lot of patience/time for browsing. Great content might go unnoticed as it’s not easy to find or lacking information.

 

Positive
  • Clear understandable language (apart from the labelling of seasons and episodes, e.g “S1 E1”
  • Simple, minimalistic design, especially on the show landing pages
  • I can add shows to my favourites to find them again later
  • There is a Support & FAQs link in the footer (although not helpful for finding shows more easily

 

Room for improvement
  • The National Geographic Logo top left doesn’t take me back to the National Geographic Homepage, I’m stuck in the TV section. To get back to the National Geographic Homepage, I need to click on the little arrow next to the logo
  • There is no clear indication that I currently am in the TV section apart from the URL in the browser field and the content of the page
  • The Top Navigation of the TV section does not indicate where I am in the content
  • There is no easy way to quickly find out about the shows displayed other then going deeper into the content
  • The wording on buttons is a bit cryptic, e.g. “Start Watching S1 E1”
  • I need to know what I’m looking for or have a lot of patience for browsing
  • Filter dropdown doesn’t close automatically, no filter reset option

Solutions

B: Open Explorer

Evaluation

Quick Review
  • System Status Visibility
  • Real-World Concepts
  • User Control and Freedom
  • Consistency and Standards
  • Error Prevention
  • Recognition vs. Recall
  • Flexibility and Efficiency of Use
  • Aesthetics and Minimalist Design
  • Error Recognition, Diagnosis, Recovery
  • Help and Documentation
Summary

This National Geographic feature was very straight forward. I was able to achieve my tasks easily. Only some minor complaints in regards to user control/freedom and flexibility/ efficiency of use.

 

Positive
  • Simple, uncluttered, minimalistic design, a lot of breathing space between the elements
  • Clear, unambiguous language, e.g. “Find Expeditions”, “Discover one of our 648 Expeditions”
  • Slideshow on the homepage indicates the number of slides as well as the active slide with small circles at the bottom
  • Platform conventions are mostly followed, I was able to achieve my goal without needing help
  • All filter and sort options are visible for recognition

 

Room for improvement
  • When I’m on a specific Expedition page, there is no back button to where I was before.
  • There is no clear indication where I currently am on the page
  • There is no home button back to National Geographic Home, I’m stuck in the OpenExplorer section
  • Links have the same color and font styling as other text, therefore it’s not instantly apparent which elements are clickable
  • Some links are not indicating where they take me to, e.g. on the Expedition page, there is a link labeled “Expedition Video” which takes you to Vimeo without opening a new browser tab. I would prefer to know that I’m navigating away from National Geographic before I click the link
  • The location of the Expedition in the description is linked. I would expect it takes me to the location but it’s just a redundant link to the expedition page.
  • Active elements sometimes are yellow, other times underlined (active filter option versus active sort option)
  • The Search field on the Discovery page doesn’t have a “Search/Submit” button or icon and is not highlighted when I enter text
  • Filter dropdown doesn’t close automatically, no filter reset option

Solutions

C: Searching for a trip

Evaluation

Quick Review
  • System Status Visibility
  • Real-World Concepts
  • User Control and Freedom
  • Consistency and Standards
  • Error Prevention
  • Recognition vs. Recall
  • Flexibility and Efficiency of Use
  • Aesthetics and Minimalist Design
  • Error Recognition, Diagnosis, and Recovery
  • Help and Documentation
Summary

Apart from the confusion about the section name being National Geographic Expeditions, no major complaints or frustrations. I was able to search and find trips easily.

 

Positive
  • Use of breadcrumbs in deeper content pages
  • Simple, uncluttered, minimalist design
  • Clear, unambiguous language, e.g. sort by “shortest - longest”, “low - high”
  • Platform conventions are mostly followed, I was able to achieve my goal without requiring help
  • There is help in form of tooltips
  • All filter and sort options can be made visible

 

Room for improvement
  • The top navigation of the National Geographic Expeditions section does not indicate which category I’m currently in
  • There is no home button back to National Geographic Home, I’m stuck in the travel section
  • The name of the travel section is very confusing as there is another feature for finding, starting and joining real expeditions as well
  • The dropdowns in the top navigation open when I hover over the category whereas the dropdowns in the detailed search only open when I click on the arrow. I was expecting them to behave in a similar way.
  • I cannot bookmark my selected trips to find them again later

Solutions