Teresa Ovalle

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Heuristics for Mr. Bottles

on December 17, 2014

Heuristics for the Mr. Bottles Website

This assignment required the use of the “Heuristics for Modern Web Application Development” as a guide to assist with evaluating www.mrbottles.com. The website was evaluated as if Message-in-a-Bottle Matt was visiting the site. This was to ensure that the site was evaluated in all areas of the site that Matt would most likely use.

Design for User Expectations:
Design the system around the users, their goals and expectations. Choose features and functions the audience will find useful and use the appropriate level of complexity for their experience and abilities. Make processes work in the way users expect, and mirror real-world processes where applicable. Ensure the interface always upholds its promise and never trick or mislead the user.

Evaluation:
When the user first opens the Mr. Bottles page, they are confronted with a talking icon that cannot be shut off. It can be annoying, especially if the user has visited the site more than once.

The opening screen is messy. It reads like a poorly managed blog. Although the text is separated by color and space, there is entirely too much of it. If the intent of this website it to be a blog, then we should organize it as such to better meet the user’s expectations. If the site’s intent is to be informational, which it most likely is, then the blog portion of the website should be included in either a dropdown menu or have it’s own button.

The dropdown menu at the time is creative, but it’s difficult to maneuver. Users expect a dropdown menu to be easy to find and easy to use.

Clarity:
Make the system as clear, concise and meaningful as possible for the intended audience. Use meaningful icons, symbols and imagery. Use the natural language of the user and optimize for skim reading.

Evaluation:
The left side navigation is easy to use and works well. Each icon is of a particular bottle type with a label that suggests to the user that when clicked, more information about that bottle type will pop up. When the user clicks on the icon, several photos of bottles in that category appear. The user can easily scroll through the images to find a bottle similar to the one he found. Once the user finds his bottle and clicks on it, a larger, more detailed photo pops up with a description of the bottle.

Also available to the user are links to frequently asked questions, an opportunity to contact Mr. Bottles, as well as a “Back to the top” button.
Underneath the links listed above, there is another list of links that offers the user a Home button. This is a good feature to have, however, when the user clicks on it, the user is returned to the front page with the talking icon.

When the user hits the “Need an Appraisal?” link, the user is directed to a page that looks more like an auction site. There is no direct link, email or phone number to find an appraisal. This is confusing to the user.

Minimize Unnecessary Complexity and Cognitive Load:
Make the system as simple as possible for users to accomplish their tasks, but no simpler. Do not overload the user with too many unnecessary choices, and make sure those choices are prioritized.

Evaluation:
Visual clutter is a problem with this site. It looks as though the creator threw text and pictures on the screen without much thought. The evaluator thought the left navigation with the different bottles worked well, but the main information is ill-managed.

When the user hovers over a clickable element, a popup appears that tells the user what he will find when he clicks that icon. This can be helpful, but the popup often gets in the way of other icon and menu bar items.

Efficiency and Task completion:
Design for user productivity, not the system’s. Optimize the system for the most common tasks. Provide experienced users with advanced features that speed up task completion. Use the most common defaults and honor user preferences and previous selections. However, allow them to be easily overridden when necessary.

Evaluation:
This site does not offer a simple-to-use interface, particularly a dropdown menu option that offers the user a one-stop option to find the information he is looking for. The current options are indistinguishable from other clutter on the screen, which makes it very difficult for the user.

However, once the user finds the right icon, the system seems to function well enough.

Provide Users with Context:
Interfaces should provide users with a sense of context in time and space. The system should let users know where they are, where they have come from, what they can do and where they can go next. Processes should inform users of the progress they have made and the remaining duration.

Evaluation:
Once the user clicks on a particular section, such as a specific bottle type, clear navigation is not noticeable. There is a title to the page one click in, but when the user clicks in one more time to a specific bottle, the page is not titled, nor is there navigation to let the user know where he is.

Consistency and Standards:
Labels, processes and interface elements should be used consistently throughout the system. The system should use common web conventions unless a new convention provides a significantly improved user experience.

Evaluation:
As the evaluator eluded to above, the front page of Mr. Bottles could use a good scrub to ensure better consistency and standards. From the well-hidden menu bar to the messy blog-type script, nothing on this site seems to be standard except the “Search” bar.

Prevent Errors:
The system should help prevent errors wherever possible. This can be done by limiting incorrect choices, accepting alternative input formats, providing guidance and inline validation where applicable.

Evaluation:
The evaluator did not encounter any errors.

Help users notice, understand and recover from errors:
Errors should be obvious and easy to recover from. Error messages should be clear and concise and easy to notice. They should succinctly explain what has happened and suggest possible solutions.

Evaluation:
The evaluator did not encounter any errors on the website. Errors in design, yes, as she described above, but she could not find anything on the site that led her to an error page. The evaluator understands that there is an error message when trying to join the club, but she could not find the link that allows her the opportunity to join.

Promote a pleasurable and positive user experience:
The users interaction with the system should be positive and where possible enhance their quality of life. The user should be treated with respect and their preferences and wishes honored. The design should be aesthetically pleasing and promote a pleasurable and rewarding experience.

Evaluation:
The current Mr. Bottles front page is not pleasurable and attractive. It is a mess of pictures and words. The user will eventually find what he is looking for, but some of the information is difficult to find, as suggested above.