Journals for Interaction Design


Journal#3 Comparison of KING5.com and Q13.com
October 23, 2007, 6:24 pm
Filed under: Comparison

Journal #3

News offers daily information for people, and the establishment of news web sites provides another new channel for audiences to immediately receive information. Both KING5 and KCPQ TV are local TV Stations in Seattle, which separately belongs to NBC and FOX. I would like to compare these two news sites by Shneiderman’s eight golden rules of interface design.

The Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design were excerpted from the book of “Designing the User Interface” by Ben Shneiderman. To determine an application program is easy use or not, it depends on an appropriate interface design. Shneiderman proposed these principles by his ample experiences and delicate observations from interactive system. Here are the eight golden rules of interface design.

1. Strive for consistency.

Consistent sequences of actions should be required in similar situations.

2. Enable frequent users to use shortcuts.

As the frequency of use increases, so do the user’s desires to reduce the number of interactions and to increase the pace of interaction.

3. Offer informative feedback.

For every operator action, there should be some system feedback. For frequent and minor actions, the response can be modest, while for infrequent and major actions, the response should be more substantial.

4. Design dialog to yield closure.

5. Offer simple error handling.

6. Permit easy reversal of actions.

This feature relieves anxiety, since the user knows that errors can be undone; it thus encourages exploration of unfamiliar options.

7. Support internal locus of control.

Experienced operators strongly desire the sense that they are in charge of the system and that the system responds to their actions. Design the system to make users the initiators of actions rather than the responders.

8. Reduce short-term memory load.

The limitation of human information processing in short-term memory requires that display be kept simple, multiple page be consolidated, window-motion frequency by reduced, and sufficient training time be alloted for codes, memories, and sequences of actions.

Now, I want to focus on some rules to analyze these two sites.

1. KING5.com

Their news is tailored for viewers 40+ years old, Also, their news is rated in Seattle as the best newscast for quick reporting and offering a wider view on certain topics. For example, they would produce debates during political seasons and health bulletin board during any outbreaks.

king5.jpg

At the first glance of this site, I was easily distracted by the ads of the left side of the home page; however, after I browsed it, I found that it is user-centric and has a friendly interface. First of all, the navigation is on the top instead on the left side. No matter the user is a right-hander or a left-handed person, the layout won’t bother them. Besides, when I access to the sub-category, the sub-menu will show on the left side in order to tell me the locus and makes me won’t be lost in the web site.

king5_2.jpeg

Secondly, the interface is simple and organized. According to the 2nd rule–enable frequent users to use shortcuts, “as the frequency of use increases, so do the user’s desires to reduce the number of interactions and to increase the pace of interaction.” The sub-menu is “hiding” below each category, when users need it, it will pop out. The interface design not only “reduce” unnecessary shortcut, but also organize and categorize the information well, allowing users to access it comfortably and confidentially.

Besides, users can get informative feedback. Those operator actions that users usually so such as accessing to news, weather, and traffic and so forth, users can directly access it with one-click; on the contrary, some functions that users infrequently use takes then more effort to achieve the goal. For instance, if you want to put the headline on you own web site from KING5.com, you have to sign first, and then you could do next.

Further, it definitely allows users to reverse actions. When I applied for the KING5.com’s membership, I forgot to confirm my email address again, so I went back to the previous page, double-checked it, and then continued to the next step. Every action could be reversal. “This feature relieves anxiety, since the user knows that errors can be undone; it thus encourages exploration of unfamiliar options.”

Moreover, due to the 8th rule–“the limitation of human information processing in short-term memory requires that display be kept simple”, users could not memorize how to acquire the information if they access the site again, so the layout and interface have to be easy to use and clear. Nonetheless, if the information is too converted to be found, users will feel annoyed when they go back to the site. Fortunately, when I accessed KING5.com the next time, I was able to immediately recover the travel information that I discovered last time. The interface design really reduce users’ short-term memory load.

About the interactive ways including one-way e-mailing and two-way method, and social networking feature such as blogging, are collected into the “Interactive” section. User can be the reporter. I can provide the news to KING5 in many ways such as sending text e-mails, sending video clips and photos via my cell phone, or directly uploading videos and photos to them. Through generating content to KING5 online, users feel more interactive and dominant when visiting the web site.

2. KCPQ TV–Q13 FOX.com

For this newscast, their news and audience is tailor more towards the college crowd and junior executives (21-40). The reason is due the stories they tend report on and the background music is tend to be top 40.

kcpq.jpg

The first impression of Q13.com is “chaotic”. The terminology of the navigation is not consistent. For instance, “Q It Up Sports” and “My Q2” sound great but are not accordant with other vocabulary of navigation neither not professional enough. Also, the sub-menu is revealed; they are not hidden and disorganized. For example, the sub-menu belongs “Site Feature” could be concealed and pop out when users want to use it.

q13.jpg

Furthermore, the information and the interface are neither well-categorized nor organized. At the time I click the button of “News”, I only see the “topic” with a paragraph of content of each piece of news. If I want to particularly read political news, it takes a while to sort out by myself. Besides, the dynamic advertising on the top of the home page disturbs me when I want to press the button on the top navigation. Sometimes I feel annoyed and frustrated to browse Q13.com.

In addition, according to the 7th rule–support internal locus of control, I didn’t intensely desire the sense that I’m in charge of interacting with this web site; on the contrary, I’m more like a responder. However, there are still advantages. I like the weather feature, which allows me to know the temperature and weather at the first sight of visiting the site. Moreover, the layout of the online streaming TV lets me concentrate on watching the news on it.

To sum up, the interface design of KING5.com is superior to Q13.com’s. The resources of KING5.com are more organized, professional and informational; on the other hand, Q13.com gives audiences a more entertaining impression, and there are still some functions should be improved. If I were an online news audience, I would rather obtain the information from KING5.com than from Q13.com, because I’ll be lost in KCPQ’s news site.

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