Exploring Coal with Nikki and Mandy

For this blog I will be talking about a “Usability Test” we had to do on a website entitled “Coal: A Love Story”. To begin this test I started with a quick preview of the website. After I wrote down my initial feelings about the site, I began my in depth 10 minutes of exploration, and the fun began! After I wrote down my reactions and then I ask my lovely friend Mandy Jo Schumacher to do the same thing! Here are our findings:

My initial reaction to this website was that I liked the linking of the power cord throughout the whole page. This tied all of the stories together in a way that most sites can’t always do. However, after looking at the website I thought the style of each story became very  repetitive and the information provided for these stories was too vague.

Next up we have Mandy’s initial reactions. After looking at the site Mandy said the site was “very pleasing to the eye”  and also liked how they showed the importance of coal production to people. The video links where something she liked and thought were very useful, but she felt confused by how all of the stories were going connect.

To begin the next part of our analysis I went first on a 10 minute exploration in detail of the website.  The first thing that caught my eye when going through this site was the story “Sometimes Its Hard To Get Away.”  I picked this video because the photo was inviting. The second thing I clicked on was “Wyoming To Chicago” I thought this story was relevant and connected to my life here in Wyoming. The final clip I got to look at in the 10 minutes was “ It Gives You A Purpose.” I chose this story because it was closest to the top.

Many of our observations of the site were similar, but Mandy was first interested in looking at the videos.  She told me she is a “visual learner and prefers watching videos over reading informational text.”  Mandy stayed very much in order of the stories going from top to bottom in that aspect. Although, she did click on the graphic about “Wyoming to Chicago”  because she felt like it related to her (seeing that it had to do with where she is from).

My favorite part of having Mandy do this experience with me was writing down the random things she would say while exploring the site. Some of the things Mandy said were: “these stories are playing with my emotions!” and “this is such an unbiased page. I was a little disappointed because I was hoping she would speak up more but she was too into watching the videos.

As far as navigation goes on this website, I was not impressed. The videos definitely outnumbered the text. I mean, personally, I am all about videos, but this did make the website hard to understand. During my exploration of the site I also stumbled upon the contact information that linked the Coal page with “Powering A Nation”. This link was not a good example how you should link something from your page to another. It was not clearly marked and would be very hard to find for others. Also having more than just one page to share your information would have been helpful. In class we talked about keeping things short and not having to scroll down or up on a page too much. Linking some of the information to another page would have been helpful. Mandy also felt like the navigation was not up to her standards.  She mentioned having to re-click on some of the graphic links in order to get them to play.

The contact information was not easily accessible. I just happened upon the link to the website and this demonstrates a poor usage of linking without proper labeling. Mandy was unable to find the valid contact information. By looking at the bottom of the page she clink the contact link that just took her to a Facebook page.

The three things I felt should be kept the same were: 1) That the site was unbiased. I felt that the website provided a good view of both those who support coal production and those who are opposed. 2) The amount of videos should also stay.  I found videos the most informative. 3) The design of the page was neat and had to do with the topic.

Lastly I would like to talk about the three things I would change. 1) There should be an introduction of some sort. I felt confused about what the site was even about at first.  2) Although I did like how many videos there were, I think it would be helpful to add a little more statistics/text to support each side. 3) A conclusion would have also been helpful.

Nikki and Mandy

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By nfinnesa

Come get your News Story

Lance Armstrong and Penguin sued in California over best-selling memoirs

Most of you might have recently been hearing news about Lance Armstrong and how he has confessed to cheating in this past month on Oprah. I found a very interesting article on The Guardian written about Armstrong being sued on January of 2013. As I am sure some of you are also interested in this topic I wanted to talk to you about how useful The Guardian was at helping me understand and gather more information about this intriguing topic.

In the news article I read about on The Guardian, Armstrong and his publisher where being sued for publishing  books that are “violating consumer protection laws on false advertising and fraud by selling the books as works of non-fiction.”

To tell this story to its readers The Guardian used text, photos, and video to inform the readers of this story. I had some troubles with the website at first, because the videos where not linked inside the article. You had to click on Lance Armstrong’s name then find the Oprah videos and watch them. With this being said I was not impressed with the presentation of the Guardian’s article.

I did however; find the story to be very interesting to me regardless of the misleading links on the site. Hearing about how a man’s life is falling to pieces right before our eyes and yet he still has the will to fight and get back into a sport he loves. Talk about heart and drive from one man right there. The biggest strength I think this story has is a video on Oprah when Lance breaks down into tears when he has to tell his son to stop defending him because he really did cheat (Click for video link) . I felt like the linking of the stories were very useful and made you see another side of Armstrong that you can’t just read about to understand, but one must see to understand.

The story did have some weaknesses in it. I personally didn’t like the picture they picked for the article. I feel like it didn’t show the right emotion they were trying to give in the story and that was in a way contradicting, but this article left me wanting to know more.

Credit to The Guardian

Lance Armstrong faces a lawsuit from two aggrieved readers in California. Photograph: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

Surprisingly from this article I learned that Lance Armstrong cheated to win his many Tour de France titles but this man will not stop trying to compete in a sport he loves. However, I may not agree that he should ever be allowed to race again, but he will not give up. To improve this story I would have the links better distinguished for the readers to follow. Also, I would have them in order of the Oprah interview not just pick a video you want to watch. This makes it confusing for the readers to follow when the clips are out of order.

By nfinnesa

News Diet, What News Diet?!

To be completely honest I have a dreadful news diet. I do not spend much time reading or watching news programs. I understand the importance of keeping up with current events, but that’s what Twitter is for, right?

With that being said, I get a majority of my news from social media sources such as Twitter and Facebook. I spend an abundant amount of my time following the ESPN app on Twitter. When it comes to news on sports I am very current. I understand that social media is not a reliable source; however, it does keep me updated with what I am interested in. It is not reliable because it is solely based on people’s opinions and their perceptions of current events. As I am writing this article I am starting to realize that the way I get my news is ridiculous! Using social media is not an ideal way to be informed.

I use these news sources because they are extremely convenient. When I am traveling often with swimming I am not always home to watch news programs, so I have to improvise. Having a smart phone makes social media easily accessible.

Even though I have determined that social media can be unreliable, I do feel it has its benefits. For example, when using Facebook or Twitter I often times run into posts that provoke me to investigate further for information on my own. Another benefit of social media is that it allows me to voice my own opinions while seeing the thoughts of others on a specific news topic.

In conclusion, it’s no secret that my news diet needs work! After writing this blog it has really opened my eyes that I need to broaden my media sources. Seeing that I do not always have access to news programs on TV, I have decided that I need to start reading the Boomerang. By reading the Boomerang I will stay up to date on local news; however, in order to stay world current I am going to add some new apps on my phone. The following apps are some that I am interested in: CNN, MSNBC, and the New York Times.

By nfinnesa