CHAPTER 5: WEBSITE DESIGN
- Most respondents to the online survey consider the website to be well designed, with 66% agreeing with the statement ‘the website looks and feels well designed’.
- Disabled users with visual impairments are likely to face considerable problems when using the website because of poor colour contrast used on the website navigation bars.
- The imagery used on the Transport Scotland website was considered to be both appropriate and helpful in providing an indication about the remit of the organisation. However, there are no images on the homepage which indicate that Transport Scotland manages the national concessionary travel scheme.
Views on the design of the website
5.1 As shown in Figure 5.1, 19% of those who completed the online survey strongly agreed with the statement "the website looks and feels well designed", while 47% tended to agree with this. In contrast, just 10% disagreed with this statement.
Figure 5.1: Views on website design among respondents to the online survey
Q: To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
Base: 496 users of the Transport Scotland website (8 July -26 August 2008)
Source: Ipsos MORI
5.2 The colour scheme used on the Transport Scotland website was generally considered to be what was expected of a Government agency. A small number of stakeholders, while in agreement that this was what they had expected, felt that the blue and white colour scheme used was very traditional and showed a lack of originality in design.
5.3 Disabled users with visual impairments faced considerable problems when completing the set tasks due to the lack of colour contrast on the website. In particular, these users had problems distinguishing the blue font on blue background, the grey font on white background and the white font on blue background. Colour contrast can be checked using a tool on the Web Accessibility Toolbar, which indicates whether the contrast between two colours is sufficient to meet recognised accessibility standards.
5.4 The look of a website plays an important part in ensuring a positive user experience. Throughout the Transport Scotland website the images used are considered to be appropriate and help provide an indication of the remit of Transport Scotland. However, the use of a banner image on the homepage, which rotates through a small stock of images, means that at some points only rail related pictures are displayed, which led some stakeholders to comment that some might think that the remit of the organisation is not as wide as it actually is.
"The images don’t really do justice to what Transport Scotland is about."
Transport / Engineering Consultant
"It gives a clear indication they are involved in railways, but not about anything else. You have to read it to find out. You’d think it was a rail website to a large extent."
Rail industry interest group representative
5.5 There is no image on the homepage that indicates that Transport Scotland covers the national concessionary travel scheme. As will be reported further in Chapter Six, many first-time visitors to the website come looking for this information and the lack of any imagery to guide them to the ‘Concessionary Travel’ section may make this information harder to find.
5.6 While the banner image on the homepage is welcoming and helps to indicate what the remit of the organisation is, the banner images on other pages on the website are large and do not actually perform a role, since the page heading is repeated above the page content. Due to the size of the header images and the text heavy nature of many pages, users are forced to scroll down the page to read the text. As evidenced in a small number of the usability testing sessions, not all users do scroll down the page and may miss content as a result. It may be worth removing the banner images to reduce the requirement for users to scroll.
5.7 Where used, it is important to optimise the images for the web as much as possible, to speed up the page download process, particularly for those accessing the website through dial-up connections or using mobile phones or other handheld devices.
5.8 All images should use ALT tag descriptions14 to accurately and concisely describe them. Visually impaired users accessing the website using screen reading software will only have the ALT tag descriptive information to gauge the importance of a particular image.
5.9 In addition, missing ALT tag descriptions on graphical links and form buttons will impede the usability of the website for users accessing via voice recognition software and for users with cognitive impairments or dyslexia, as software packages they use to assist them will speak the content of the page, including ALT tags describing images and graphical links.
5.10 It is not good practice to use words such as ‘picture’, ‘banner’, ‘logo’ etc in ALT tags and some images on the website do this. All visitors who are not actually able to see that a picture is there are informed of the presence of graphics by their access technology or text browser, so this additional text is superfluous.
5.11 A good way of checking ALT tag is to view a page with images turned off (by unchecking the ‘Show pictures’ box under the Advanced tab in Internet Options in Internet Explorer) and ensuring the page still makes sense. Displaying content in this way will show the alternative text for the images as end users would encounter it. Further detail on this issue is described in the Accessibility Audit report, in Appendix Six.