The great variety and depth of information at The Daily Beast is undeniable. This site marries news aggregation and original reporting, producing a resource rich in current events for the user. But is the quality of information the only thing that influences the user’s decision to frequently visit the site? This post will explore the usability (how intuitive the site is, how easy a user can learn to navigate it) as well as user experience (how design plays a role in the way the user perceives her interaction with it) of The Daily Beast.
The screenshot above is what the user sees when first coming to the site. I have two first impressions when coming to this site. The first is a comforting one, as I see conventions in use: a rollover subject bar on top that highlights different topics and a search box on the top right hand side. The other is rather overwhelming, as I try to decide which story or headline to pay attention to. As you can see, there are three things on the top of the page vying for my attention (plus a stand-alone headline link at the top imploring me to click away from the main page). Only after staying on the page for a good couple seconds do I focus on the slideshow on the left and choose which story I will read. Yes, the pages are broken up into clearly defined areas. But, in my opinion, there are just too many of them placed too close to the top of the page.
There is no unnecessary noise in the background, yet I still feel rushed when I get to the site. Perhaps it’s the speed of the initial slideshow, flashing multiple stories in front of me all at once. Or maybe it’s all the bolded red and black text competing for my (I like a lighter shade, or at least alternating between bold and light). However, I will have to admit, navigating through this site, especially when I navigate to another tab (all tabs after the homepage seem more manageable) makes me feel like I have achieved something. I feel intelligent and somewhat accomplished looking through this site. The combination of clean design and lack of banner ads gives me a sense of dignified austerity when using the site- that is after I can get over the initial overwhelmingly cluttered feeling of the home page.