Evaluated: Going Solar

Going Solar homepage annotated

If you are interested in an expert evaluation for YOUR website please contact us.

We conducted a limited expert evaluation of Going Solar’s public website at www.goingsolar.com.au . Going Solar is a leading renewable energy and sustainable living specialist in Victoria, Australia.

We focused our brief evaluation on the homepage and overall it has a professional appearance and is well presented. The look and feel is colourful and fresh, and appropriate for this type of website.

The homepage has several usability issues however most of these are reasonably easy to address. The page appears to be structured around internal business perspective rather than the users’ needs. Most of the page “above the fold” (initially visible portion of the page) is allocated to a Clean Energy Council award Annotation tag 2 and you need to scroll a lot to get down to the interesting parts – the installation examples and product catalogue. It is likely that the product catalogue is the primary reason for users to visit the site, however in case users miss the button in the main navigation the product catalogue is only accessible via a tiny link at the bottom of the page. Annotation tag 3

The main navigation could be improved by indicating the currently active website section (e.g. Contact Us when on the contact page) and increasing colour contrast. Annotation tag 3 It should also be written in more user friendly terminology, for example “Divisions” should be renamed to “Services” and “Links and Resources” to “Sustainability and Green Technology Resources” or similar. Annotation tag 6

The website would help users orientate themselves better if it provided a clear and concise description of what products and services Going Solar provide. This should be placed in a prominent location. From a marketing perspective, the site should also clearly explain the customer benefits – in other words make the “sales pitch”. A strong call to action on the site makes it easier for users to decide on their next steps.

Latest news are from 2008 and the site would benefit from more frequent updates. Annotation tag 1

Overall, the Going Solar website is a solid starting point but it could be made much more user friendly with moderate effort. We would be more than happy to help by conducting a more thorough evaluation and explaining some of our ideas for a redesign.

We have included a detailed list of recommendations and suggestions below. Each item includes a reference to the respective website usability “rule of thumb” that we have based the recommendation on (in brackets). The pink tags refer each annotation in the screenshot above. You can also view or download a full size image of the Going Solar homepage (1024 x 2911, 460 KB).

Major:

  • Annotation tag 4 Make main logo a link back to the homepage (rule 4)
  • Use high colour contrast for improved readability and avoid gray text and gray backgrounds (13)
  • Clearly explain customer benefits of using your products and services (12)
  • Correct errors in HTML code and use validator tool to verify (13)
  • Explain in a sentence what products and services the company provides (12)
  • Annotation tag 5 Fix link to Sustainable Living Festival (5)
  • Annotation tag 3 Highlight current section in main navigation (12)
  • Annotation tag 3 Increase colour contrast in main navigation (including hover state), headings, and links (13)
  • Annotation tag 1 Post updates to homepage each month, as a minimum (14)
  • Write user friendly link names and provide indication as to where each link leads (12)
  • When link points to a downloadable document indicate this with a small icon (12)
  • Redesign page layout to show important topics that now fall outside the initially visible screen area (2)
  • Annotation tag 6 Rename “Divisions” to “Services” in main navigation (2)

Significant:

  • Annotation tag 7 Add map or link to a map wherever address information is presented (rule 2)
  • Annotation tag 5 Write user friendly link names and avoid displaying URL in link title (2)
  • Ensure you have clear “call to action” on home page (14)
  • Increase prominence of important topics such as upcoming events and product catalogue (2)
  • Install Google Analytics for website usage reporting (14)
  • Annotation tag 8 Remove or explain acronyms e.g. SAPS, BIPV (2)
  • Annotation tag 9 Rename “Links and Resources” to “Sustainability and Green Technology Resources” or similar (12)
  • Use verbs in link titles e.g. read, view, download (12)

Minor:

  • Annotation tag 10 Add description near Schott Solar and City of Melbourne logos to explain why they are on the page (rule 12)
  • Annotation tag 4 Disable animation as it is distracting for some users and does not serve a function (8)
  • Invest in Google AdWords to drive additional traffic to the site (14)
  • Remove excess whitespace under content area (8)

Website: www.goingsolar.com.au
Review scope: Homepage only
Reviewer: Jussi Pasanen
Review date: 17 Feb 2009

This evaluation was conducted independently of Going Solar and was not a paid assignment.

If you are interested in an expert evaluation for YOUR website please contact us.

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