This week, I chose Time.com. to critique. I don’t visit the site too often any more, but when I was a subscriber of the print edition, I did. Overall it is an overwhelming experience. I don’t get a very good sense of visual hierarchy, or where I should go first, when I first land on the page. “The Brief” is a section on the home page that must be the breaking news and biggest topics of today. I’m not certain what the “know right now” header is – if it is always a multimedia content, or a certain “column.” It’s Time, so they feature their writers’ most recent commentaries on the home as well.
The left column I find interesting as far a usability. I get the sense that this is optmized for digital devices, though I have no idea how to prove that statement. The navigation that pops out of the “menu” bar is very mobile-esque, and the scrolling headlines as well. It is interesting that as the mouse hovers over headlines on the left scroll bar, the texts turns red. This visual element may be a cue to users to click on the story to read more of the content. However, the rest of the home page to the right has no such visual element. Users are left to assume that clicking on a picture will take you to more coverage.
If you scroll further down the home page, you get list of the “Around the Web” sections of the website – health, world, etc. I find it interesting that this content is in the middle of the page, with a “Lighbox” picture slideshow below. As a web user, I’m used to seeing a navigation element like this towards the bottom of the page or in the footer. It’s interesting to me that all of these sections can still be found in the left-side navigation bar. And again, on the bottom of the page, the same sections are listed once again.
Reading an article is not quite as overwhelming as the home page experience. The type is nice and readable and the photos are large. The left navigation bar highlights which story is being red as you continuously scroll down the page for more stories. This format is much simpler more friendly than the home page.
To increase usability, I would simplify the home page and add visual hierarchy. Time needs to decide what they want users to read because they have way too many elements happening at the moment. Research would help define what should and should not be on the front page. I would only highlight the different sections once rather than three times on the page. Design-wise, I like their aesthetic and the simple use of black, white and red. Less is more for Time.com.