In this essay I shall be considering the effectiveness of four websites. I shall be looking particularly at where and what the creators have put on the site. Also the way pictures, writing, colour and graphics are used. They probably spent a long time designing and putting it together. I will try and pick out the main decisions and choices they have made. This will help us understand more about language used to welcome and invite. The sites I have chosen to look at are Amazon (the UK site), BBC online, Cornwallis School and Sky sports.
The sites all have different purposes and are designed to that particular genre’s specification. Amazon is a site aiming to sell. BBC online is more about information but it is also promoting its channels. Cornwallis School Site is there to give information about that school. Finally Sky Sports is giving information while at the same time promoting itself (like BBC online). The content of the sites is obviously quite varied but much more striking than that, is the design of them. All four websites have chosen to lay out their sites in very different ways. The design of a site is incredibly important.
If a site is not to the viewers liking, they would leave. This is especially important with Amazon because they depend on people staying on the site and feeling happy with it (so then they are drawn to an offer). The layout (like shop flooring) is designed to lead browsers round in a certain way but at the same time being clearly marked for direct access (if you know what you want you can get to it easily often through searches on the site). The choice of language used is of vital importances as well. Again going back to Amazon as an example, the viewer has to trust the site and harsh words would lose the sale.
In this first section of the essay I’m going to look at language and content. The first website I’m going to consider is The Cornwallis Site. The first page is a plain white and has a light mint colour round the edge (down all the edges apart from the right side). The first thing you see as you come into the site is the big title that has animation. Next to that is an award the site has won. On the other side is the emblem of the school (the deer) and the sign that shows that it is a technology college. The page has a navigation bar down the side of it. This also has a search option at the bottom of it.
As we enter we see three main pictures with hyperlinks attached to them. The First one features the head teacher then below that, is a group of different teachers; the final picture shows smiling pupils in a group. In the centre of the page is recent news. There is a “new” graphic above it that turns. The language used is chatty and informal at the same time it is quite direct. For example “Visit the ICT pages” the word is a command rather than a request. The language tries to involve the reader. “Did you know?… “. The overall effect is clear and not busy.
Next, I am going to look at Amazon. As with the previous site we see a very plain background. This site has its navigation bar along the top of the screen. At the top left hand corner is the main title and domain name (Amazon. co. uk). The navigation bar is set out like a filing system. The one you have open is a different colour to the others which appear to be behind it. They are all linked to various areas of the site. For instance there is a section of kids’ things, music, books, auctions. The main page is divided up into three sections. The left column contains five blue boxes.
This is easy to understand and the reader doesn’t need to wade through unnecessary information and details. The centre column consists of recommendations and features. This is set out with a bold title and a small picture. In this middle column, the writing is more informal and less detailed. It uses friendly phrases like “It may be a dog’s life when you’re a new baby”. The last column is a khaki colour; it is divided into boxes again. In the seven boxes, there are quick recommendations. The first box is top 100 Books (only listing 10 but linked to full list). Then there is Music and after that, DVD’s.
There is no description by any of the links and they just appear in one list. At the bottom of the screen are some more links in a plain white box. The first page of this site is pretty simple. The aim is to draw people into the important pages. The window is set out so you can find your way round quickly and efficiently. Thirdly, I shall look at BBC online. This displays its title in the middle of the page; in plain black and blue colours. To the right of this is a small bot (or search device). This site is again divided into three columns. The left side is being used as a navigation bar.
This lists possible links you may want to use. The centre column has three choice pages (for browsers). The titles are bigger in a different colour and stand out more. Underneath is a picture and a brief description. The descriptions use chatty language like “say Pants to poverty”. At the bottom of each one is the category it goes under. The final column is quick links, divided into five sections and a link. The sections are things like news, weather and sport. They are all in a different title colour. In the top left hand corner there is the date and a text only option. Finally, let’s look at sky sport.
The main background is white but they have also used blue to divide up the page. The navigation bar is in the blue left hand strip. The centre of the top of the page has quite a big banner advert for egg. com. The title is to the left hand side of that (and takes up less than half the space of the add). Below the title there is another two adverts (for search engines and Pebble Beach). Down the right side, there are another two adverts for sites. The centre column has a small latest news section. This includes a picture and a scrolling piece of writing with latest news and scores.
Below that are various sections about other sports like football, cricket and rugby. There is a web pole in the bottom right hand corner with a question about football players. Above that is a photo and email address link. Now let’s start the second part of the essay, a look at why things have been placed on these sites and what effect they have on us. So let’s start by going back to the first site we looked at: the Cornwallis site. The animation at the top is simply there to introduce us to what the site is. The award shows us that the site isn’t going to be bad or disappointing.
The pictures are of the important things about the school. The head teacher is there to show he is involved in all aspects of the school, the teachers to show authority in the school and the pupils show they too have a major part of the school. The navigation bar aids the less experienced Internet users who may find links hard to sort out. Amazon has the filing system at the top so that as above, people who are not good at using the net feel a bit more at ease. The rest of the page is sectioned, to divide it up. The pictures are used to draw the eye into a particular article or item.
This is so browsers can have visual aids to help their thought processes. At the end of the day, it could mean the difference between a sale or not. It also means that when you are looking at a different bit of the page you are naturally drawn for a couple of seconds to the picture. The background is left plain so you can pick out the sections better. Busy backgrounds distract you and puts you off, if you don’t like it. White is a neutral colour, so doesn’t offend anyone. BBC online also uses the white backdrop for the same reason. You are naturally drawn to the centre of the page as you enter all websites.
So that is where the designers put the prominent features like the details of article. They use pictures to help you understand what they are talking about. For example if you watched a program but missed the credits and introduction you may recognise it from a picture better than you would from just the title. The two sidebars help you navigate round quickly. Small recognisable images are at the bottom of the page. Things like a small spider advertised on the TV for the web wise section. There is a section about Comic Relief with a picture. This makes the company look good because it is supporting a charity.
The “text only” option gives people who are overwhelmed by the net an option to make information easier to absorb. Finally, looking at Sky Sports the first thing you notice is that it is aimed at a male market. You can tell this because it has picked out male dominated sports like football, rugby and cricket as its main features. The site has a big advert at the top. This is less for the viewer’s benefit and much more for making money. Again the site has gone for neutral colours a dark blue and white:- Surveys have shown this to be one of the more popular colours for men.
The focus is much more on text and links than pictures. This is because sports images are less clear. From quickly looking, you would find it harder to pick out one football player from another (and the same applies to most sports). The web pole is inviting the viewer to interact and feel a part of the site. I therefore conclude that big-name websites as a rule, nearly always use plain backgrounds. This makes it easier to divide the page up with colour. The navigation bar is usually on the left hand side because this feels more natural to have it in a margin there.
Pictures can be used effectively to say a lot about the site without the viewer having to read anything. They can grab the attention of viewers or turn them away. The title doesn’t need to be big and in fact, it is not looked at long enough to need to be “in your face”. A site should put the most important feature in the centre of the page because that’s where it is most likely to be looked at. Overall, from looking at all theses sites you can see how critical it is to apply good design, if the site is to succeed in its aims.