Website: www.wizards.com/dnd

Organization

Most of the website's content is broken up into individual articles, each of which is published as part of a larger series. Each of these series, in turn, is designated as part of one of the site's two e-zines, either Dragon (meant for players of the game) or Dungeon (meant for those running the game, or Dungeon Masters). Sometimes, these structures work, but other times they simply get in the way - the whole reason they separate their content into two different online magazines is for the fact that said magazines were once in print, and they wanted to keep player and DM information separated. Today, the line seems to get blurred, as articles will sometimes appear in both if they are deemed to be worthy of either consumer's attention, or only in one despite having broad appeal.

Labeling

Many article series have names that are more aesthetic than utilitarian, which can lead to confusion for newcomers to the site. A first-time visitor who's familiar with the mechanics of the game itself could probably guess that Winning Races and Class Acts are columns that focus on providing new race and class options (respectively) for player characters, but expecting visitors to know, for example, that Legends and Lore focuses on the history and development of Dungeons and Dragons as a game, rather than elaborating on the mythology of one of the many different campaign settings is probably a bit much.

Navigation

If anything, the front page is a bit cluttered. There is a helpful navigation bar across the top that can often point you in the right direction, but everything below that is a disorganized jumble of animated advertisements, banner links, icons, lists, article synopses, and product placement. Basic organizational rules like alignment and proximity are hardly utilized, and the link to the page for people completely new to the game is buried on the right side halfway down the page with no attention called to it whatsoever.

Main Page

Establishing the Brand

The brand is made very prominent here; the WotC logo is displayed in the upper left, right next to the words 'Dungeons & Dragons.' The D&D logo is featured numerous times in product images and banners, and the dragon icon used in the ampersand is featured in a variety of icons. People who are familiar with the game will instantly recognize it here, though newcomers may be thrown, as little to no introduction is given as to the nature of the game itself.

Setting the Tone

The advertisements taking up almost all the space 'above the fold' suggest that the site is primarily a vehicle for spreading awareness of their most recently released products and boosting sales. No explanation of D&D Insider services or game tools is given - it's as if Wizards expects people to already know about the services and tools they offer (both the free and paid content) without being told.

Giving a Sense of What the Site's About

Dozens of links lead off to content and pathway pages, but there is little available on the main page to orient a newcomer. The phrase 'roleplaying game' doesn't even exist in the body of the page itself, let alone an explanation of it.

Access to Key Tasks

I personally come to this site to check for the latest updates or to use one of the many online tools provided to help run the game or to reference specific rules. The sidebar on the right containing the Quick Links and D&D Insider Tool Box makes many of the site's most popular pages and features (like the Content Calendar or Character Builder) a single click away.

Sending Users on Their Way

The navigation bar at the top of the screen is the most likely way for people unfamiliar to the site to find the information they're looking for. Whether they're shopping for new game books, looking for player- or DM-specific material, or looking for events, links are available to guide them to what they want out of the site.

Pathway Page

The 'Player' pathway page seems to be a good example of a short, table-of-contents-esque page that offers users several options to access content that they may find useful. In addition, a bulleted list is prominently displayed here that offers brief descriptions of the different pages and tools being offered. It works as far as providing little information overall, but ensuring there's just enough there to help users on their way. The only thing that looks amiss here is the advertisment in the lower right, which will likely be ignored, according to Redish.