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This report identify and evaluates the restaurant guide Atlanta website's strengths and weaknesses and also proposes ways to rectify the restaurant guide Atlanta website so as to improve the website as well as the business. Data for the report was obtained through an online survey. The survey was conducted on a sample of 40 respondents.
From the survey findings, most respondents finds that the URL of the website is distinct easy to remember and the fast download time makes it favourable about the website. Despite these favourable responses, many respondents felt unsatisfied about the usability of the restaurant guide Atlanta website. Many did not like the contrast colour of the website, text font size and colours, repeated links and alignment of the elements. They felt that the website is lacking of value proposition and the readability of the content in the website was poor. Many respondents find that navigating through the website was not easy and there is too many irrelevant graphics that cause confusion to the users.
Based on the findings, it needs to introduce and implement appropriate measures to ensure an improvement in the usability of the Restaurant Guide Atlanta website in order to improve the business.
It is recommended that different colour tone should be used for the background, header, footer, navigation tab and the content area as well as different font sizes and colours for the headings, subheadings and the paragraph text. The website should removed any repeated links and every elements should be properly aligned by making it either left, right, top or bottom aligned. White space should be used between and around the elements on the webpage. In addition, sans-serif font should be used for all the text in the content and a logo as well as a company name should be placed at the top of home page. There should be a navigation tab at the top of the webpage. The web page should be concise and a "Home" tab should be available in every page. All graphics used in the web page should show the recommended food in each restaurant.
This report aims to identify the restaurant guide Atlanta website's strengths and weaknesses. Secondly, it helps to evaluate on the restaurant guide Atlanta website's strengths and weaknesses and improve on it. Finally, it also proposes ways to rectify the restaurant guide Atlanta website so as to improve the business as well.
Frank Nance created the Restaurant Guide Atlanta website in 1998. The website provides a comprehensive list of most of the major restaurants in the Metro Atlanta Area. It is designed to help local people living in Atlanta area, business men and women, tourists and newcomers coming to the area to find a suitable restaurant to fit their specific needs. It strives to help both the customer and restaurant establishment by providing an easy searchable guide, and help consumers to find the restaurant that fits their individual needs.
Throughout the years, the Restaurant Guide Atlanta website has been recognized internationally as the most reputable restaurant guide in Atlanta with a popularity of 8 million visitors each year. However, the Restaurant Guide Atlanta website was not able to hit the expected target over the past few years and seems to be gradually decreasing. In order to improve the website we, the Project Managers of a website consultancy company, have been requested to identify the website's strengths and weaknesses and make recommendations in order to improve the business of the website.
Information was obtained through various restaurant guide's websites, research on the restaurant guide Atlanta website, reference books and the Internet. Data for the report was also obtained through an online survey, using the comprehensive questionnaire which is attached at Appendix B. The survey findings are discussed in detail in section 2.
Scope of Investigation
The report investigates the designation and the layout of the Restaurant Guide Atlanta website, in terms of: contrast, repetition, alignment, first impression, navigation and content. The areas evaluated and observed include: the background colour of the website, font size and colour, repetition of links, alignment of the elements, empty spaces between elements, ease of use of the website, irrelevant graphics, look and feel as well as value proposition of the website.
ANALYSIS OF WEBSITE
The URL of a website should be short and simple so that it makes it easier to remember, to type and less prone in typing the URL erroneously.
As shown in figure 1, the reason most of the 40 respondents - 43% or 23 - like the website is because of the URL which is distinct and easy to remember. This makes it easier for people to find the website and remember the URL when they need to use the website to find a suitable restaurant in Atlanta to meet their needs.
22.214.171.124 Download Time
The most important element in keeping an efficient impression of a web page is actually the download time. Therefore, the size of each page should be kept under 50K so that the web page will load quicker and faster.
According to figure 1, 33% or 18 of the 40 respondents said that the fast download speed of the web page is the one the highest reason that makes it favourable about the website. Other than that, only a handful of 6% (3) or 9% (5) of the 40 respondents thinks the otherwise.
Contrast simply means difference. Contrast can be achieved through the use of different colour (dark or light colour), size, weight (bold or narrow), shape, space (near or far and empty or filled) or by text selection (Arial or Verdana). The use of contrast makes it easier to distinguish from one element to another.
126.96.36.199 Background Colour
As shown in Figure 2, 23% (30) respondents felt that the website is not interesting to explore because of the websites' dull background colour. It would appear that the colour of the background has a weak contrast with nothing being clearly dominant. The current background colour contrast does not create an interest on the web page itself making it less attractive. This might lead to a decrease in the number of user visiting the website affecting their business.
188.8.131.52 Font Size and Colour
As can be seen from figure 2 below, 17% (27) of the respondents said that the poor font colour combination makes the website not appealing to explore. This is probably due to the font colour currently being used which is similar throughout the web page. This makes it difficult and confusing for the viewer to distinguish from one element to another.
Repetition simply means the recurring of the same or similar elements throughout the page. Repetition will give a clear sense of unity, consistency and cohesiveness.
184.108.40.206 Repeated Hyperlinks
As shown in the figure 3 below, there were 36 (90%) respondents found multiple links on the restaurant guide Atlanta websites which directly leads them to the same web page. However, there were merely 4 (10%) respondents who did not find any multiple links on the websites. An example of such repeated links can be seen in figure 4 and 5. Both of the links are directing to the same page which is the menu guide. Therefore, it is unnecessary to have these repeated links as it may only lead to more confusion to the user.
According to figure 7, 9.2% (5) of the respondents think that the website is well aligned. However, 44% (24) of the respondent said that the website has poor alignment, 39% (21) of the respondents gave the option of having large empty spaces while the 7% (4) of the respondents state that the alignment have poor bordering.
An example of poor alignment can be seen in figure 6. The element on the website are unorganized and overlapping each other. This makes it difficult for the user to read and understand the content or information of the website. As a result, the unappealing look on poor alignment of the website might hinder the user from visiting the website again as it is not user friendly.
220.127.116.11 Large Empty Spaces
As can be seen in figure 7, 39% of the respondents think that there are too much of large empty spaces. This can be seen in figure 8 where large empty spaces shown as the white arrow can be seen on the left side and right side between the content of the webpage. The width of the content is not fully optimized to the fullest leaving a large empty spaces and making the content looked crammed.
2.2.4 First Impression
18.104.22.168 Look and Feel
Look and Feel means readability. There should be a clear and easy understanding of the information found in the website itself. The font size should be large enough making it readable and avoid clashing colours. It is also essential that the website is not too cluttered with text and images.
As shown in figure 9, 33% (40) of the respondents felt that the content appears to be cluttered with texts, 27% (32) of the respondents agrees that the information text font is not easily readable and the information in this site is not easy to understand. It would appear that website filled with many texts makes it difficult for user to find information or to navigate. Therefore, things should be easy to read and understand so that user will know exactly what the site is all about.
22.214.171.124 Lack of Value Proposition
As shown in figure 10 above, 53% (21) of the respondents said that the main purpose of the website is actually to provide catering, 37% (15) of the respondents thinks that it is to help find a resaturant in Atlanta to fit their specific needs while only 5% of the respondents thinks it is to meet people from atlanta or to know the places in Atlanta. It seems to appear that most of the respondents haven mistaken the purpose of the website. It could be because the respondents might have just browse through and spotted an image saying something about catering and assumed the website to be about providing catering. Therefore, it is essential not to put any irrelevant information or graphics that might mislead user on the purpose of the website.
126.96.36.199 Ease of Use
The navigation system in a website should be intuitive and easy to use. It provides a direct access to various content on the site. However, the restaurant guide Atlanta website does not serve this navigational system.
Figure 11 below shows that as many as 83% (33) of the respondents disagree that the website is easy to navigate while only 7% (7) of the respondents agree that the website is easy to navigate. This hinders the usability of the website as the user finds it difficult to navigate the website.
188.8.131.52 Return to Home page from any Page
Having a return link to the homepage from any page is important in ensuring users do not get lost and giving users the feeling of a more secure in navigating the site.
As can be seen from Figure 12, it shows the result on why users dislike the navigation function of the website. According to figure 12, 64% (21) of the respondents dislike the navigation function because the website is mising a return to homepage link while 18% (6) of the respondents dislike the navigation function because the website is missing a site map or too many internal links. Having a return to home page from any page link is important to ease the use of the user when user need to return the home page after clicking on the links of the wesbite. This makes it easier for the user to explore the website efficiently.
184.108.40.206 Use of Valuable Graphics
As shown in figure 13, most of 33% (13) of the respondents rate the usefulness of the graphics/images being used to related subjects is very bad while 30% of the respondents rate it bad. This could be because the use of graphics/images is irrelevant and therefore, the graphics does not really benefit the website in any way. This really defeats the purpose of having the graphics on the website.
The Australian Good Food & Travel guide website which can be seen in figure 14, is currently the preferred choice as a good web design comparing to Restaurant Guide Atlanta website due to the following reasons:
3.1.1 Background Colours
The Australian Good Food & Travel guide website is making use of good contrast by using different background colour choices to differentiate from one element to another element. It is a good design which gives a strong and clear focal point with one being clearly dominant. This can be seen in figure 15 where the header, the navigation bar, the content area and the footer having different tone of colours from one another. The header and the navigation bar have a dark background colours though the navigation tab has a slightly lighter colour than the header. The footer which can be seen in figure 16 has a lighter grey colour while the background colour has a slightly darker grey than the footer. This clearly shows that the website is achieving contrast through colour choices either by dark or light to differentiate between the elements. In addition, the colour of the content area is white which is clearly dominant than the rest of the elements and making use of a strong contrast to help the user notice that it is even more important than the rest of the elements.
3.1.2 Font Colours & Sizes
The Australian Good Food & Travel guide website makes use of different font colours, sizes, text selection either by bold or narrow and uppercase the lettering to differentiate and separate the text by headings, subheadings and the paragraph text. This can be seen in figure 17 below where the headings are clearly different from the subheadings and the paragraph text by uppercasing each letter of the entire word "FEATURED RESTAURANTS" and using a larger font size than the subheadings and paragraph text. The subheadings also use different font colours to differentiate between the two elements where the red font colour indicates the name of the restaurant and the grey font colour indicates the place of the restaurant. To differentiate between the subheadings and paragraph text, the subheadings use text selection by bolding the words while the paragraph text uses a normal text font. By using larger size and uppercasing the headings, it will attract the user's attention and draws them to read more of the smaller text font. With this, it gives a clear distinction of the elements and helps and makes it easier for the user to know where to begin to read and where it ends.
No Repeated Hyperlinks
In the Australian Good Food & Travel guide website, there are no hyperlinks being repeated. Every hyperlink found in the web page has a clear purpose of providing internal or external links to navigate user through the web page. With no repeated hyperlinks found in the webpage, it gives a sense of consistency to the user and helps the user use the hyperlinks without confusion. This can be seen in figure 18 below where all the hyperlinks are group together and organise in different category such as restaurants, accommodation, wineries, bars, attractions and etc. This makes it easier for user to find the hyperlinks and use it efficiently.
Every element in the Australian Good Food & Travel guide website is well aligned. Nothing can be seen to be out of place and every element is connected visually by an invisible line. An example of well alignment can be seen in figure 19. With the red lines in place, it shows every element is neatly line up where the image boxes are also in alignment with the top of each subheading while the subheadings are left aligned with the paragraph text. With good alignment, it creates a good flow which makes it easier for user to scan and read through.
White Space used Effectively
White space is used effectively in the Australian Good Food & Travel guide website. White space allows separation of the elements without any addition of any elements such as visible line boxes or frames. This can be seen in figure 20 where empty spaces shown as the red arrow can be seen between the elements. With this, it makes it easier for scanning the website. It also gives a clean and well organized structure without the need to use of visible line boxes or frames to separate the elements.
Look and Feel
In the Australian Good Food & Travel guide website, the content is easily readable, clear and easy to understand. The website is neatly classified as can be seen in figure 21. The text font size is large enough to be readable and wise use of font colours which is easily readable and appealing to the eyes.
Sufficient of Value Proposition
In the Australian Good Food & Travel guide website, user can immediately recognize the main purpose or business of the website where it is specialize in restaurant guide on the home page. This can be seen in figure 22. With this, it emphasizes what the site offers that is of potential use to the users.
Ease of Use
The Australian Good Food & Travel guide website allow user to find and access information easily. It helps user to locate and link to destination pages with ease of use. To facilitate navigation, the website use navigation elements and appropriate menu types within the site. The web pages do not open a new browser window after clicking on the links. With this, by disabling this function, it will not hinder the user's usability as user would still be able to click on the back button. In the site, navigation tabs are located at the top of the webpage. This can be seen in figure 23. The use of breadcrumb navigation in the site has also allowed users to navigate the site quickly. An example of breadcrumb navigation can be seen in figure 24.
Return to Home Page from any Page
The Australian Good Food & Travel guide website provides return to homepage link from any page on the website. An example can be seen in figure 25 where a link labelled "HOME" are found near the top of the page. With this, it creates an easy and distinct way for the users to quickly return to the home page at any point of time.
Use of Valuable Graphics
Every graphics use in the Australian Good Food & Travel guide website add value and increase the clarity of the information on the site. This can be seen in figure 26where each graphics shows the type of food available in the restaurant. By using an appetizing graphics, it will catch the user's attention and draws the user into finding more about the restaurant and the type of food that is being sold in the restaurant.
After analyzing and studying on both the Restaurant Guide Atlanta website and its competitor, the Australian Good Food & Travel Guide website, the following conclusions can be made based on above discussion:
4.1 In Restaurant Guide Atlanta website, there are some elements being used in the website that should be complimented on.
4.1.1 More than three quarters of the respondents agrees that the use of different text selection either using the font weight (bold or narrow) or font style (italic) gives a good contrast as it makes it easier to distinguish the elements.
4.1.2 23 out of the 40 respondents think that URL of the website is distinct and easy to remember.
4.1.3 33% or 18 of the 40 respondents feels that the fast download speed of the web page is the one of the highest reason that makes it favourable about the website.
4.2 However, there are still areas that needed to be improved on in order to meet user's satisfaction on the usability of the website.
4.2.1 23% (30) respondents felt that the website is not interesting to explore because of the websites' dull background colour and 17% (27) of the respondents said that the poor font colour combination makes the website not appealing to explore.
4.2.2 36 (90%) respondents reckons that multiple links that directly leads them to the same web page are unnecessary which only leads to more confusion to the user.
4.2.3 44% (24) of the respondent believes that the website has poor alignment which makes it not user-friendly to the user and 39% of the respondents think that there are too much of large empty spaces where it is not fully optimized.
4.2.4 33% (40) of the respondents felt that the content appears to be cluttered with texts where 27% (32) of the respondents agrees that it is not easily readable and not easy to understand. In addition, 53% of the respondents have mistaken the purpose of the website which shows that the site is lacking of value proposition.
4.2.5 As many as 83% (33) of the respondents agree that the website is not easy to navigate due to the fact that 64% (21) out of the 33 respondents felt that the website did not provide a return link to the home page.
4.2.6 Over half of the respondents rate the usefulness of the graphics/images being used to related subjects very bad or bad.
4.3 Comparison analyzing and studying on both the Restaurant Guide Atlanta website and its competitor, the Australian Good Food & Travel Guide website were made to shows a clarity on the differences between a good web design and a poor web design.
4.4 Overall, some measures and actions should be implemented to rectify on the usability of Restaurant Guide Atlanta website in order to improve the business.
In view of the above conclusions, we would recommend the following actions be taken:
5.1 Different tone of colours should be used for the background, header, navigation tab, footer and content area. The background colour should be preferably lighter than the header, navigation tab and the footer while the content area should preferably be in white colour.
5.2 Different font colours, sizes, text selection either by bold or narrow should be used to differentiate between the headings, sub headings and the paragraph text.
5.3 There should be no repeated hyperlinks available in the webpage. Hyperlinks should be classified or grouped together such as grouping all the hyperlinks on either left or right hand side as well as either top or bottom of the web page.
5.4 Every element should be properly aligned either by making it left, right, center or justify aligned. All of the content should be placed in a table with a zero border.
5.5 White space should be used between and around the elements on the webpage. This space includes the area between graphics or images, text, header, navigation tab, footer, links etc.
5.6 Sans-serif font should be used for all the text in the content preferably Arial or Verdana text font.
5.5 A logo and a company name should be placed at the home page preferably at the top.
5.6 There should be a navigation tab at the top of the webpage. The web page should be concise where little or no scrolling is required. A "Home" tab should be available in every page to navigate back to the home page. The web page should not open a new browser window after clicking on the links.
5.7 An appetizing graphics should be used to catch user's attention and draws them to it. All graphics used in the web page should show the recommended food in each restaurant.