Design Critique: David Stark Design and Production Website

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David Stark Designs is a design and production company for corporate and private events. Through their website they are trying to show potential clients how fun and creative their work is. However multiple design elements on the site lead to user error which in turn creates annoyed potential clients. With a few changes to the site their work can showcase their creativity.

mouse

Problem 1: The designer chose to ignore cultural constraints and the knowledge that visitors bring to how websites work.

The frustration begins before a visitor can even click a link. The website changes the visitors’ mouse to a giant hand. There is no warning of this change. Because visitors are used to the default icon of a mouse, it is jarring and takes a minute to realize that the hand is not acting on it’s own, the user is controlling it. Even more confusing the issue of the hand/mouse is that when the website initially loads the hand is moving with the website, it is not user controlled. Scroll bars are located on the left of the website not the right side which is the standard side for all browsers.

Solution: Stop making the user have to work so hard on the site. The mouse should be changed back to standard icons that are familiar to users, so they are able to easily navigate the site. The color can be changed to indicate some originality. Scroll bars should be moved to the right side.

calculator

Problem 2: Buttons, buttons everywhere

There are extraneous buttons on the corporate event page that should be removed. When you click on an event, a calculator appears to the right of the photos. There are buttons for “next photo” and “event list”, but there are also multiple other buttons that do nothing except write random words on the calculator tape. Instead of the client engaging in the work they are distracted by pushing buttons to find out what each one does.

Solution: Add constraints back into the site by removing extraneous buttons. Ideally the “next”, “previous” and “event info” buttons should be moved to underneath the photos to increase the visibility/mapping of the actions, but if they want to keep the calculator the bottom buttons should not be active.

clients

Problem 3: Too many things to do = a decrease understanding of what should be done.

Once the site is done distracting the user with extraneous buttons, it presents the user with extraneous actions to distract them. These actions decrease the visibility of what the user has to do for more information. On the “About” page the hand/mouse is holding a push pin on this page and the visitor has to pop a light bulb (which is  counter intuitive to our knowledge of the world) to have a graphic with text appear to learn about the company. After popping one light bulb the user assumes that to learn additional facts they should pop additional light bulbs. But that does not work, they only explode with confetti. If you want to learn more you have to go back to the original graphic and click the very tiny arrows to the left and right. On the “Clients” page a coffee mug appears with the words “Click Me”, clicking the mug only allows the user to move the mug and leave coffee rings on the site, distracting from the client list with a scroll bar that has also appeared.

Solution: Remove extraneous actions, and make affordances larger. For example make the “about” bubble appear on its own and the arrow buttons larger. The light bulbs can continue to fall behind the bubble, but users should not be able to interact with them.

This is a creative company who wants to solve problems for clients, but instead their website is creating problems for users. These design elements take browsing a from an everyday task and make it more a complicated process of trial and error. With a couple of design changes the work done by David Stark Productions can stand out rather than the website.