Fat Hands

she used to sit in this cafe, and just face the wall. And it wasn’t coffee she was drinking

Visit. Our. Webshite #1 – Home Education UK

Posted by Alix on 1 May 2007

We begin with Home Education UK.

I am trying to work out what to focus on; there seem to be a number of features vying for my attention. The page is unpleasantly coloured in lilac, dark blue/ black and purple, and the background is textured. The red text clashes with the purples. It’s a little oppressive and unbalanced (although I feel the effect is meant to be more in the vein of ‘astronomy exhibit at the science museum’ rather than the ‘brothel in Aylesbury’ vibe I’m getting. Not that I’ve ever been to Aylesbury). There’s a fair amount to read on this first holding page, but it jumps through to the main site after a bit, so I don’t bother with all the text.

The clutter of the first page has prepared me a bit for what follows. My initial thought is ‘Christ, I have stumbled on the website of an icon hoarding loon’. It’s like when you first create a blog and it seems really cool to have all these different features showing exciting stats like how many people from Iceland visit your site on Wednesdays, but, importantly the frisson of excitement this brings wears off fast and you subsequently remove most of the faddy buttons and concentrate on not confusing the hell out of your reader. This person doesn’t seem to have moved on from the first stage yet. There are a total of 22 images/ buttons/ thingies randomly scattered across the middle of the page. These include some links for other parts of the HEUK site, which could have better been included in the sidebar menu, but have been shoved into the main area, some using text, and some using images, also slightly arbitrary links to Amazon, the Children Are Unbeatable! Alliance and the NO2ID campaign, and three other adverts along the bottom. It’s a mess, basically.

There is also an ‘Add to Google’ button and general instructions for saving the page as a favourite. It’s this one that really gets me – it’s like a website giving instruction for how to navigate away from it – ‘Leave this page? Just click the little cross in the top corner!’ and displaying it as something particular to that website. Bella Online also get a look-in, with a ‘Bella Online Site of the Month’ rosette icon tacked on for good measure. This does not reflect well on them, I have to say. Two very ugly icons in the top right link to a further part of the HEUK site and to an external website. There is also an invitation to ‘Sign My Guestbook’. The messages within said guestbook are all very flattering and I restrain any churlish impulses I may be having. There is a ‘do not copy’ warning button as well, as if anyone in the right mind would want to.

In the usability stakes I am able to get a reasonable idea of what they do, but in terms of contact details there is no clear section labelled ‘contact us’, instead there are links through to email addresses around the site, which is not quite good enough. A well written and clearly signposted ‘About Us’ and ‘Contact Us’ section is essential. This site lacks both.

On the plus side the sidebar menu is not as awful as the rest of the site.

On a scale of 1-Shit this website scores a 8.5.

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