The Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce have launched their new website, and my first impressions are a bit mixed, to say the least.
Let’s start with the home page navigation.
Vincent Flanders coined the phrase “mystery meat navigation” on his WebPagesThatSuck.com website. Unfortunately, DNCC’s site is a candidate for one of his infamous awards.
The navigation on the new website is a mystery: run your mouse over the various squares and watch menus flash around the page. Then try to remember what appeared where. Oh dear…
The point of Mystery Meat Navigation is that it may look cool, some might even use the word groovy, but it is a real hassle for the users of the site. The flashing squares are alarming and confusing.
A review of the user experience on a website should address a number of other questions, which might include:
1. Are the category and subcategory names clear and mutually exclusive?
The meaning of the categories of “Your Chamber” and “DNCC Members” is ambiguous. The meaning of “Business Support Services” isn’t any clearer. As a result the logic for placing information within those categories is not obvious and logical. And it makes it difficult to find what you’re looking for.
2. Does the Home Page provide access to the essential goals of the site?
I would have thought encouraging companies to join the Chamber would be a high priority of the site. But there is no Join Now call to action on the home page. And the Membership Application option is hiding away as the 17th menu choice within the “Your Chamber” section of the site. For some silly reason I thought joining the Chamber might be in the DNCC Members section.
Informing members of business issues and encouraging discussion of big topical issues like the proposed Car Parking Levy in Nottingham might be a big priority of the Chamber, but no sign of that on the Home Page.
3. Is essential information given priority?
I am a Chamber member. And I think the items given priority on the Home page are irrelevant to my business.
Does my business care about the Cinema Listings given priority on the Home Page? Nope.
With all due respect, as a company based in Nottingham, do I care about Derbyshire Community Information? I do not.
And do I care about the hot news in Caerphilly? Sorry, not relevant to me.
4. Does the keyword search on the website provide precise and comprehensive information?
I used the search box on the Home page to search for “Car Leasing”, a typical concern for small businesses. Unfortunately, The Computer Says No: no results. This is not good news for the 7 chamber members who provide car leasing services. As it turns out, you have to search the members database separately. If you can find the mysterious pink search box.
I then tried searching the Members Directory for the word “Internet,” hoping naively that I might find my business. Apparently Beeston Fields Golf Club is a better match on the word Internet than my business. Relevance does not appear to play a role in sorting the search results. Hey Ho.
I know it is easy to snipe from the sidelines, and that isn’t the point of this review. There is a lot of good in the new DNCC design.
But it is worth:
- ensuring you have a clear set of goals for your website
- producing a site that is intuitive and effortless to use
- testing the site with your user base before launch
- and learn lessons from other websites!