Rapid development of the Internet has led to an increasing amount of people and businesses going online. Many websites are being created every day with different purposes, although the main idea of each of them is to be viewed by other people. Some websites are eye-catching, attractive and, thus, effective, while others are difficult to understand or for any other reason make us skip it. Thus, the aim of this paper is to analyze whether a website of BlueAsia Café is designed according to the ten principles of effective web design in order to identify its strengths and weaknesses.
Strengths of the Website Design
There are common approaches that should be used in order to create a user-friendly and efficient website ignoring which might result in it being not successful. The ten principles of creating an efficient website and ten “usability nightmares” highlighted by Friedman have been considered in evaluating the website of Blue Asia Café. The analysis has demonstrated a significant number of the website’s strengths.
The first principle of a successful web design is based on making a website self-explanatory and obvious enough so the viewers do not need to think. This website is absolutely easy to navigate which makes it particularly user-friendly. The home page is simple and gives a precise explanation of the purpose of the website that is also supported by visual aids such as pictures of oriental food. The website’s menu is kept very simple. It allows the choice of only five buttons with short and clear names on top and a Facebook fan page on the right. Thus, the viewer will not be confused when searching for where to click on.
The second principle, which suggests not making users impatient while browsing the website, is also correctly applied since it does not require them to do any extra actions. Viewers are not asked to register, enter their e-mails, or other personal information in order to view certain features. Hence, it would not put any unnecessary pressure on them.
The website manages to focus users’ attention by presenting large colorful pictures of Asian food and the name of the restaurant in the center of the page. Hence, these are the first and most important things that a viewer would pay attention to.
The website successfully applies the principle of effective writing by presenting short information that does not take long to read. It clearly shows the main data about the restaurant such as its location, contact information, and business hours. Moreover, the stories placed on the website are written with minor grammatical mistakes that normally would be considered a negative aspect. However, they point out that this restaurant is operated by authentic Asian people who serve traditional home-made food. Thus, this feature contributes to making an impression of a small traditional business run by a Taiwanese family, not a large standardized restaurant where everything is excellent and generic.
The principles of striving for feature exposure and simplicity are also successfully applied since the website has a very simple navigation and a clear structure with only a few buttons as it was already mentioned above. The five main navigation options presented on the very top of the web page are visible at the first glance. Thus, it will make the process of browsing the website for a user particularly easy, fast, and pleasant.
The website successfully avoided the “usability nightmares”. Hence, the website meets the recommendation of not using more than 18 words and 50-80 characters per line. The design is rather conventional that contributes to the visitors being able to easily navigate the website. Moreover, there are not any hidden or invisible links, pop-ups, or drop-down menus, and the content blocks of the website are not layering upon each other.
The overall impression that a viewer gets from browsing the website is positive. The choice of colors is traditional to the Asian culture that supports the idea of the website, although yellow and red colors that predominate the background are not too bright or irritating. The picture of sakura trees and a cat are successfully chosen for the Asian theme. Moreover, the colors go well with a black font making it pleasant to read.
Weaknesses of the Website Design
Despite a large amount of strength, the website has some failures that should be corrected. The page with the restaurant’s menu breaks the principles of not making the users think and making them impatient. It suggests downloading the menu or a desert menu, but there is also an option called `next page`. It is confusing since it does not explain what there is on the next page. Each button opens a separate part of the menu that could have been presented on one page. Moreover, the idea of downloading something from the website might put some potential customer off who would want everything to be approachable on the website instead of downloading many separate files. However, clicking on `download file` does not actually download it to your computer, it simply opens it on the website. So this issue creates unnecessary question marks in the users’ heads. Moreover, there are only two options of zooming the menu which makes it either too small to see or too big and inconvenient to read. Thus, it would be much more efficient and attractive to the viewers if the menu was presented straight on the page called `menu` divided into separate categories outlined with some headings.
One of the weaknesses of the website is connected to the principles of focusing users’ attention and effective writing. Even though they were described as the strengths, the font used to write the name of the restaurant should be much bigger. Comparatively to the large pictures on top, the name does not bring as much attention and is not very different from the rest of the text underneath. The bottom of the front page has too many images that make it rather challenging to concentrate on something in particular. Additionally, the website would be better presented if the front page did not require scrolling down.
Furthermore, there are some points of applying the effective writing principle that should be improved. The front page requires some headings like `Our history` and `Our services` in order to name the text passages that are written in one font with no information highlighted.
Additionally, the phrase that moves on the top of the page `May I help you?` makes the viewer think that it is a link to a chat window with a representative of the restaurant or a guide to making an order. However, it is not a link; thus, the purpose of it being on the website is not very clear.
The principle of using white space is not successfully applied either. The front page has too many images and text that seem to take up all space. Moreover, the animated image `Join us` next to the Facebook fan page is quite annoying.
Overall, the design of the BlueAsia Café’s website is quite simple and easy to navigate which is its main advantage. All the information that might be required by the customers is easily and very quickly accessible on the website. However, some features should be reconsidered and changed in order to improve its efficiency. Thus, the main disadvantage is connected to the layout of the `menu` page that is, in fact, the most important feature that would be checked by the majority of viewers. Additionally, some headings should be added or enlarged in order to separate the blocks of text and attract the potential visitors’ attention. Nevertheless, the website is likely to attract many viewers who might consider visiting the restaurant after browsing the website.