When we decided to add the significant number of specialist sites we didn't suspect the issues thrown up relating to usability. Questions we've raised and tried to answer include:
- How do users of TRIP get to know that the specialist sites exist?
- Should the specialist site look like TRIP or do they need their own identity?
- If you go to one specialist site, how likely are you to move to another specialist site?
- How should you navigate, consistently, between sites?
One of the big issues about design and websites is making the functionality 'there'. So if a user need to use/activate a function it is easily 'findable'. However, you have to balance the findability of the function with the relative importance. It makes sense to have the search box displayed prominently but there is little point having the link to this blog equally prominent. At the bottom of the post is a mock-up of the new homepage. Will it still be like this at launch, we're not sure.
So we're trying to get the balance right. One thing we won't do is rush to meet some self-imposed deadline to have the new site ready and launched. We may still get the site out by the end of the week, but only if we're happy.