The National Geographic homepage gives users a clear and easy way to navigate.
It’s not fancy at all, and that’s what a journalistic website is supposed to be like in my mind. Most news sites are heavily covered by text with some space occupied by ads. And there aren’t neither too many ads nor text on National Geographic site.
The navigation bar at top categorizes contents by format, subjects and style. “Subscribe” and “Shop” buttons are in yellow, thus differ from the major content.
An extra navigation box will jump out when users move their mouse over the topic, and the topic users moved onto will change text color. What the pity is the right part of this box does not change when the mouse move over the list on left. And if possible, I would try to make the video playable within that little box when users click the play button on it.
As a website that is famous of photographs, National Geographic has a sidebar named “Photo of the Day.”
When users click the photo, it leads the users to the page of the larger image. And users can see other photos by clicking previous or next on the right top of that page.
But if that tiny sidebar on homepage can also go over past Photo of the Day, that would be nice.
There is a window that automatically slide to different featured/latest photo stories. By clicking the photo, users will be led to a page of photos displayed in a horizontal way.
I think the overall usability of the National Geographic site is good. It’s easy to navigate and control. There aren’t too many unnecessary stuffs there. As for the user experience, I would probably give seven out of 10, merely because the clean view. But if National Geographic can add more design elements to the site while still keeps it clean, that would be much better.