In this technological era where we have nearly instant access to knowledge at our fingertips, there is an unfathomable amount of writing content on the world wide web. Because of this, for most of us it is impractical to sift through and give time for everything that we come across. Therefore, the best way to find the information we need is to scan neatly organized content on a nice-looking interface. If there are flaws in the content’s readability, then the user will simply move on to the next web page and the previous page will not serve its purpose.
For this case study, to properly assess the readability of website content, I decided to compare two blog-style web pages that share a specific topic: bicycles. But where they greatly contrast is in user readability.
The author of this page for bikewebsite.com shares tips about using a bicycle for beginners. However, the website user will quickly find critical errors for readability and flow.
First of all, the background consists of a pattern of cyan-colored bicycle graphics which makes the black body text difficult to read. In fact, it hurts my eyes when I stare at the background for too long.
Next, the body text has fundamental flaws. It uses a serif font (I assume it is Times New Roman, which is considered outdated for most web articles outside of old institutions), and its padding and margins are almost nonexistent, forcing the reader to span their eyes across the entire screen. In fact, it was difficult for me to screenshot the page because of how close the text was to the edges of the screen. And, because the padding/margin values are so small, the white space between paragraphs has much less impact and feels shrunken, making the reader hesitant to continue reading.
Although images are used, they add little to no value to the content that is being discussed; some of the pictures do not even show on my screen at all and instead display alt text.
Lastly, the paragraphs are very inconsistent, with some sections having walls of texts and others dividing paragraphs into single sentences.
As for the content in the article, the voice that is used is decent despite the disorganization. That being said, the very poor user interface and the lack of consistency seems to cancel out any good from the content. Overall, the whole website is comically messy, and this post especially was irritating to read.
On the other hand, the author of this article for Cycling Weekly shares what she believes are flaws in modern bicycle design.
At first glance, this post is easy to look at: clean, sans-serif black text over a solid white background, with good padding/margins and red hyperlinks distributed throughout the body but not being overbearing.
The article is very scannable, divided into coherent sections for each of the six irritants the author is trying to share. The paragraphs are concise and neatly issued for each idea presented. Additionally, each section has a picture which visualizes the specific irritant.
While the bicycle novice, like myself, may get lost in some of the terminology used, we have to consider that the main audience likely consists of mostly bicycle enthusiasts. Therefore, I think that the author delivers her points effectively for the target audience combined with neat user interface.
Overall, both websites deliver a similar purpose and style of voice: a knowledgeable person trying to teach the reader a thing or two about bicycles. However, the former webpage is inconsistent, messy, and nearly unscannable; the latter webpage is coherent, organized, and easily scannable. This is a make-or-break situation that clearly makes one website unserviceable to readers and the other encouraging for the target audience to read more.