From one blog to the next: Usability review 

For this review on website usability, I decided to visit a site that you’d think would have to be pretty darn usable considering its subject: the George W. Bush Official Blog. This is only one section of the many-layered georgewbush.com but I will use the blog page as my starting point.

The first thing I noticed, using Netscape as my browser, was that the links to different sections of the website looked all squished together and were difficult to read. Reluctantly, I switched to Internet Explorer to continue my search. Ah, much better.

Now, where to begin? There are a series of sections listed at the top of the page which link to other sections in the site, but I think I’ll stay put for now. I read a few lines of the first post, easily distinguished from the next by clear, red text… fight against terrorists, economic reform, blah blah blah. There is a list of previous posts on the right oranized by subject, title and date. How convenient! I click on ‘Environment’ and the page refreshes with a series of posts all relating to healthy forests, clean air and the like. There are some highlighted sentences within the posts linking to different sources but they all pop-up in different windows, so I can click ‘em closed and be right back at the GWB blog. Plus, the links on the right are still there so I can easily switch topics to something like ‘Homeland Security’ or ‘Compassion’.

Also on the right, there is an image of the official logo of the Bush Blog which links to a section where you can download news feeds and campaign countdown markers to put on your own web page. Sounds fun. Click, click. On this page, the links on the right are gone but there is a new link on the top which will take you back to the main page of the blog. No need for the browser’s back button here!

In the column on the left, there is a little search button where I can search within the blog and right under it there is a nice little link to search within the entire site. I type in ‘Patriot act’ and six results show up. At the top of the page, I can decide how I want to view the results (by title or by date) or I can limit my search and only look for a result within a certain time frame by clicking ‘Advanced Blog Search’. There is also another nice little link to view the results for the same query if I had searched the entire page. Isn’t that thoughtful.

Hmmm, I wonder how this site has changed over time. Let’s take a trip to archive.com to find out, shall we? Well, first of all, back in 2000, during his first election campaign, George W. didn’t have a weblog, but his official site was up and running nevertheless. It was somewhat simpler, mostly because there was a lot less content, but it followed basically the same format his site does now, that is with unchanging words along the top which link to different sections and an easy to use search button which creates a clean and simple, user-friendly website.

P.S. I tried to include screen shots of the web pages discussed but my iMac is being uncharacteristically un-usable at the moment and won't let me. I'll try to add some later.

***Disclaimer: The ideas expressed in this post or on georgewbush.com in no way reflect the political views of the owners of this blog.

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