Website Analyses:


Websites and brief descriptions:


Name
URL
Why?
rachelle17
http://www.americastestkitchen.com/
I use this site all the time. I want to understand:
  • How America's Test Kitchen establishes trust with its audience
  • Why the organization of site content helps me find the information I need quickly
  • What design features help me navigate the site easily
  • What approach is used to provide different ways to search content
  • How the method of labeling provides meaningful connections with content
AlisonAL
http://uwc.niu.edu/
I don't use this site very often, but I believe UWC clients do. I am looking at this site for a few reasons:
  • To help UWC staff increase usability.
  • To understand what information clients might look for when they visit the site.
  • To address concerns of branding with the rest of NIU.
  • To suggest ways the UWC can increase their online offerings.
JeffG33
http://www.snapon.com/
I worked at Snap-on Tools customer care center for 4 years prior to going full time as a graduate student at NIU. One of my responsibilities was to respond to email inquiries from internet customers. These customers frequently complained about the company web site and how hard it was to find information on the web site. Although the company has modified the site recently, I will analyze it to see if it answers the customer's core complaints. Specifically, I will look at the following:
  • ease of finding key product information (tools, warranties, replacement parts, return policy...etc).
  • how easy it is for a variety of users to navigate to their respective pages (International customers, industrial customers, government employees, and Snap-on employees).
  • Use of labels (Snap-on employee terminology doesn't match customer terminology)
jessme212
http://www.piecechicago.com
http://www.bentriverbrewery.com/ (backup)
I have little professional interest in this website. Namely, Piece Brewery is my favorite Chicago-land microbrew and I enjoy having an excuse to visit the site regularly. Going for the nuanced analysis, the site is already professional but has a great deal of (seemingly purposeful) information architecture. I'll likely focus specifically on organization and navigation, as well as a few areas for improvement. If Piece Brewery is not an appropriate selection, Bent River's website has a few more problems that could be discussed.
KourtALourt
http://mmrcnc.com/
This website is for Metro Machinery Rebuilders, which is my dad's engineering company that is located in Franksville, Wisconsin. I've decided to analyze this website because it has a lot of problems with hackers. It recently has been re-managed due to an Iranian hacker who had distorted the site and wrote on it openly that he had succeeded at hacking it. Also, the website has potential but it needs some work. My brother and I have told my dad to hire someone on professionally to fix it up, but he has yet to do it. The last person to get it to this point was an IT guy who worked specifically on it, but had to be laid off due to the economy crashing. I think it could look better and be more pleasing to those who are interested in the company.
WardenWalker
http://marvel.com/
I am interested in exploring the site for its use of organization to simplify what is otherwise a massive and complex website (how ever poorly done I think it is). The site manages to juggle news, multimedia, advertising, community, information, and merchandise but maintains a fairly simple home page. Marvel.com was recently redesigned, but a great deal of my interest comes from the fact that I continue to find it frustratingly designed. Obviously I cannot examine the entire site, as it encompasses the entire Marvel brand. I instead intend to focus on the home page and the main pages under the heading of "Comics."
Antesocial
http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Default.aspx
I enjoy DnD (Dungeons and Dragons) as a hobby, and with the recent release of the latest version of the game, many new kinds of online content, tools, and other things have been made available on this website as supplements. Some of it is made available for free, other bits are only accessible to those with a paid subscription to the site. I use the site quite often, but I often find myself wasting an inordinate amount of time trying to locate exactly what I need, at least from time to time. I hope to get to the bottom of this in a paper, and at least take a look at how simple it is to get to what you want from the home page (or if certain tasks are impossible without obtuse navigation).
Frenchfry2004
DeKalb Public Library
http://www.dkpl.org/
Why I'm analyzing this site:
  • I'm a member of the DeKalb Community, and have spent many hours in the library (and on the site), either for academic or personal reading, and thus have a personal interest in the site.
  • I want to find out what services the library offers users, and how.
  • I want to track any changes made, and see if they help or hinder a user find what she's looking for.
Word_Smith
Illinois Writing Project
www.illinoiswritingproject.com

Also part of organization's "sites":
http://iwp-illinoiswritingproject.ning.com
Why I'm analyzing this site:

I'm a member of IWP. I'm a little concerned that our website doesn't give justice to what the site does, and that there's a divide between "in" group and "out" group via the website versus the ning. There's obviously some attraction to the site--otherwise I wouldn't have applied to join their institute last summer. But I'm wondering what could be improved, and looking at chronicling what techniques other states' writing projects use to consider how those may or may not be applicable to our situation. This year, the fed. gvnt. has put Writing Project funding on the chopping block 3 times (thankfully, each time, its been saved). I'm wondering what part better web presence could play in communicating the importance of our work?
CaptainCuppycakes
http://www.thinkgeek.com/
This site is interesting because it sells products to an audience that is extremely familiar with internet culture, and the language of the product descriptions and advertisements is adjusted as a result. There is a large community built around the items being sold, large enough that the site's organization may not have been able to keep up with the needs of its audience. I'd like to focus on the size of the site and its multiple functions.

ijumpinpuddles
http://andersons2.indiebound.com
I go to this bookstore often and enjoy the store's intimacy. I want to analyze this site because I do not think the store and website relate to each other. The organization of the site seems to be okay for the most part, but most of the links are not connected to anything. Anderson's Bookstore has a lot of events and is aligned with an organization called Indiebound, supporting small stores and businesses. I think an updated website would entice more users, both inside and outside the Naperville area, to visit the store.
MongrelScribe
http://www.vmware.com
VMWare is a company at the heart of a relatively new trend in the technical world: cloud computing. It's also a company I'd like to work for at some point in the future. While looking over their website a few weeks ago, I noticed their information architecture system is quite complex. Though it seems to mostly be well-organized, I noticed a few oddities I wouldn't mind looking at a little closer (labeling choices, organization, etc.). This assignment is an opportunity to do just that.
Skyknight
Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects
http://www.nbwla.com/index.html
I have recently been hired to construct a landscaping website for a client in Charlottesville, VA. By analyzing the sites of my client's competitors, I can discover the strengths and weaknesses of their online presence. The Nelson Byrd Woltz company appears to be highly successful, but their image-focused web design makes it difficult to find information.