I have decided to critique WLWT.com for this week’s blog post. I grew up watching WLWT in my hometown located near Cincinnati, OH, so I’ve always had a personal connection to this particular news organization. After spending some time analyzing this website, I have reached the conclusion that my user experience was pleasant, though some aspects of the site might need to change to make the experience even better. While referring to Krug’s Five Guidelines for capturing reader attention/adding comprehension, I will now describe what I liked and disliked about WLWT.com.
Create a clear visual hierarchy on each page
This site’s visual hierarchy was remarkably clear; the fact that the most recent stories were located in a rolling header at the top of the screen is just one example of this clarity. The photos and headlines for the most recent stories were the largest on the page, with the headlines displayed in bold, white color and sharing a singular font.
In addition, all stories within the Headlines, Features, Slideshow Central, Don’t Miss This and Most Popular sections were visually related; they were grouped together in an organized fashion with each of their headlines sharing the same size, font and color.
My only complaint about the visual hierarchy for WLWT.com is that the Don’t Miss This and Most Popular sections contain small headers and are located low on the page. The section titles themselves – Don’t Miss This and Most Popular – grab my attention instantly and make me believe these stories are somehow important to me. Why then are they located so low on the page? They should sit higher if they “can’t be missed.”
Take advantage of conventions
WLWT.com had many of the same characteristics that other news sites utilize. This made it easy for me to navigate the site.
Like other news sites, the tabs located at the top of the screen provided me with information on where I could find news stories, weather, videos, photos and open job positions.
The site also used a rolling header so that users could scroll through the latest stories of the day. If they found an interesting story, they could click on a headline, and the site would automatically take them to that specific story.
Finally, the site included links users could click on to follow the news station on Twitter or like it on Facebook. This invitation to interact with the station via social media is another well-known tactic for news organizations.
Break pages up into clearly defined areas
The news tabs at the top of the page did a fantastic job of showing me where I could find the news I was searching for. By clicking on the news tab, for example, I knew exactly where I could find stories pertaining to local news, county news and news relevant to southwestern Ohio’s neighboring states, Indiana and Kentucky. Each section also had its own identifiable title or header that distinguished it from the other sections.
However, I wish the Features section had a larger header. Personally, I think Features stories are interesting reads, and this section would have been easier for me to find if only its header weren’t so small. The Features header is one of the smallest on the page and is crammed into a sidebar on the right side of the page.
Also, I experienced some confusion with the site’s rolling header. The eye-catching headlines and photos led me to believe the stories within the header were top stories, not the latest stories. On the contrary, the top stories are located beneath the rolling header. The only way I knew the stories within the rolling header were the latest stories was by noticing the small bit of text near the headline that told me how much time had passed since reporters last updated the story.
Make it obvious what’s clickable.
Discovering what was clickable and what was not on WLWT.com was pretty easy for me; immediately, I knew I could click on all the headlines that were in blue. Also, I knew I could click on the links located at the bottom of the page because the links would become underlined every time I scrolled my mouse over them. Finally, I knew I could click on videos and slideshows because my mouse would change into a hand with a pointing index finger every time I ran the mouse over the images.
WLWT.com doesn’t contain a lot of noise, though I did find the advertisements annoying. Not only are the ads numerous on the site, but they also are on huge display, with bright coloring. Oftentimes, my eyes were more drawn to the ads than to the actual news stories.
Overall, I enjoyed my user experience on WLWT.com; the site was easy to navigate, and I could easily find exactly what I was searching for. The only changes I would make to this site would be to make it more clear that the Latest Stories section is NOT the Top Stories section and to minimize the noise caused by ads. However, I’ll end by saying I like using WLWT.com and think the site does a great job of making information easy to find for its users.