Heuristic Analysis - PBS Newshour Website

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  • Heuristic AnalysisCatherine Au-Yeung, Fabiola Einhorn, Saima Mohammad, Dylan ShadApril 14th, 2015


    The goal of this heuristic analysis is to identify usability issues, their frequency and severity, in order to assure a more efficient desktop user experience and identify areas of opportunity for an enhanced user experience. The following PBS NewsHour sections where evaluated:

    Recent Programs Politics Arts Nation The Rundown World PBS newshour broadcast

  • This document presents synthesized site-wide trends with specific recommendations, evaluated according to universal principles of design by four usability experts according to the following criteria: Priority: Low, Medium, High, Critical Frequency: Low, Medium, High


  • 1. Entry Point2. Hierarchy, Layout, and Information Design3. Visibility of System Status4. Navigation5. Consistency and Standards6. Aesthetic and Minimalist Design / Signal to Noise Ratio7. Flexibility and Efficiency of use8. Error Prevention9. Help and Documentation


  • Problem: Upon entering site, first time users are faced with an overlay.Priority: HighFrequency: LowRecommendation: Provide these options elsewhere within the page that is non-obtrusive e.g. NYT.com

    1. Entry Point

  • Timely data emphasizes news content, and drop down menus allow users control over content.

  • Problem: Drop down menus with two columns leads to cognitive overload.Priority: HighFrequency: HighRecommendation: Drop down menus should be clearly organized into primary, secondary, and tertiary content categories.

    2. Hierarchy, Layout, and Information Design

  • Problem: Premium features such as Editors Picks and Subscribe options are buried.Priority: LowFrequency: HighRecommendation: Provide these options elsewhere within the page that is more prominent.

    2. Hierarchy, Layout, and Information Design

  • Problem: Ad space is competing with site content.Priority: LowFrequency: HighRecommendation: If possible, visually disassociate the content with the ad.

    2. Hierarchy, Layout, and Information Design

  • Problem: There is no clear feedback system for users to know what content to expect and how to allocate their time. Hover copy is too content heavy.Priority: HighFrequency: HighRecommendation: Visible timecodes are a good way to let users allocate their time and know what type of content to expect e.g. SVTPlay.se

    3. Visibility of System Status

  • Swedish news site uses timecodes, color coding and provides a countdown to when the next live stream is.

  • Problem: Identify video content vs. articles.Priority: HighFrequency: HighRecommendation: Provide visual cues in the form of play buttons, timecodes, etc.

    3. Visibility of System Status

  • Problem: Finding a way to navigate back to the homepage.Priority: HighFrequency: HighRecommendation: Consider the area around the logo to make it look clickable.

    4. Navigation

  • Problem: Inconsistent layout and information architecture across platforms and browsers.Priority: HighFrequency: HighRecommendation: Assure software is compatible across platforms, browsers and different versions for a consistent user experience.

    5. Consistency and Standards

    Desktop: Chrome

    Desktop: Safari

    iOS: ChromeiOS:Safari

  • Problem: Inconsistent layout within the site for the same content categories.Priority: HighFrequency: HighRecommendation: Avoid excessive labelling to allow the user to better understand content categories and gain more control.

    5. Consistency and Standards

  • Problem: Excessive content results in a low signal-to-noise ratio.Priority: HighFrequency: HighRecommendation: Break up content into clear section headers and keep content relevant and high level. E.g. The Rundown column and More Ways to Watch should be removed or redesigned with hierarchy and context in mind.

    6. Aesthetic and Minimalist Design

  • Problem: Primary, secondary and tertiary headlines are inconsistent and indistinguishable, which leads to cognitive dissonance.Priority: HighFrequency: HighRecommendation: Make sure menus are clearly distinguishable and make sense to even novice users.

    6. Aesthetic and Minimalist Design

  • Problem: Accelerators (ways for the expert users to navigate the site more efficiently) should not be visible to the novice users as this will confuse them.Priority: MediumFrequency: LowRecommendation: Assure accelerators have a low hierarchy and do not get in the way of main navigation, as the expert users will find this information regardless.

    7. Flexibility and Efficiency

  • Problem: Lack of contextual information, especially for novice users.Priority: MediumFrequency: HighRecommendation: Add on-hover labels, or ensure content is categorized in a way that the user knows what to expect.

    8. Error Prevention

    The Making Sen$e button makes no sense!

  • Problem: Lack of information detailing purpose of individual pages and website as a whole.Priority: MediumFrequency: HighRecommendation: Update and improve visibility of About Us page. Include statements of intent on pages.

    9. Help and Documentation


    The PBS site has a lot of different content categories that need to be distinguished in a more consistent and clear manner, especially for first time users who may not be familiar with

    PBSs terminology.

    This can be done through visual cues such as color, and a clear information architecture that emphasizes real time content

    which lets the users know what to expect.

  • Opportunities Summary

    HierarchyMake sure categories

    are distinguishable with visual cues.

    ConsistencyStick with the same

    terminology and visuals within content


    Language Ensure users are familiar with the

    terminology used to direct them.

  • THANK YOU / QUESTIONSCatherine Au-Yeung, Fabiola Einhorn, Saima Mohammad, Dylan ShadApril 14th, 2015

    PBS newshourHeuristic Evaluation (Portfolio) (1)