Collegeanswerz Analysis

There’s this really cool website called http://www.collegeanswerz.com/ that’s really amazing and really well designed.  I think I’ll write my blog post on it ;).

Lets start with the home page.

home

First off, it does a solid job of conveying what the site does, why it’s different, and how it works.  The picture of Pitt’s page is useful in showing what it’s about quickly and effectively, and the phrases capture the essence of the site.  The colors are also alright, but still plain.  Aesthetically, it’s ok, but could definitely have some nicer pictures and stuff.

 

 

Now let’s consider the University of Pittsburgh’s page as an example of a college page.  To start with, I really like how all the information is laid out.

pitt

  • You immediately get a quick sense for what the school looks like via the picture carousel.  This is both aesthetically pleasing, and allows you to have an image in your mind of what you’re reading about as you read through Pitt’s page for more information.
  • You also have quick and easy access to the most common information about the school right next to the pictures.  This is useful if you want to access the information, and is also useful to help give you an idea of what the school is like for you to visualize as you read more about it.
  • The navigation bar is fine.  Simple, straightforward, does it’s job, doesn’t do anything stupid.  Same with the links to the questions.
  • The current question that has the light gray background is great! It draws your eye there.  Speaking of ‘drawing your eye’, the page as a whole does a good job of directing your eye by visually showing you what’s important.  The large heading and the pictures immediately draw your eye there, which allows you to get a brief overview of the school.  But that section with it’s white background isn’t too eye-catching where it keeps you inching there after you got your immediate overview.  That would be detrimental, because once you get your overview, it’s important to draw the eye to the actual content: the answers to the questions.

Let’s move on to the information section of Pitt’s page.

info

The idea behind this design is based off of the idea that this information is better presented adjacent in space rather than stacked in time.  See this amazing blog post: http://37signals.com/svn/posts/1128-learning-from-bad-ui.  Basically, information that is adjacent in space is information that is all next to each other, sort of clumped together.  Information that is stacked in time is presented in a series of web pages, with each web page being spacious.  Stacked in time is more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.  Adjacent in space allows the user to access the information more quickly.  It’s a trade-off, and in this case, I think it’s nice for the user to have all that information that he might want in front of him.  Other websites have it stacked heavily in time, meaning there’s tons of pages to navigate in order for you to find the information you’re looking for.  It could be difficult to find the right page.  And you have to wait for these pages to load :(.  See http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/university-of-pittsburgh-3379.  I think it’s better to just “put it all in front of the user” (in this situation).

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