Usability Review:

The Absolute Peach is an Internet Comedy Podcast based in England. While the website seems to deliver for frequent visitors and listeners, it lacks direction key elements that may push away new viewers.

The Absolute Peach is an Internet Comedy Podcast based in England. While the website seems to deliver for frequent visitors and listeners, it lacks direction key elements that may push away new viewers.

Initial Impressions

The first thing I notice about the site is the logo: it’s big and bright, followed by the words “internet radio show.” I think that’s techno-jargon for “podcast.” The color scheme on the front page tends towards red, so I immediately feel a strong energy coming from the site. It’s warm and inviting. Scanning the rest of the header, I see the words “original, funny, free.” This could be a great find.

This site seems to have a lot going on with a cluttered front page, when in fact it seems like the only thing they really need is for you to click to listen to their radio show. The listen to the show information is pretty clear right off the bat.

As I arrive to The Absolute Peach I understand easily what the site’s purpose is. I read a tagline below the main header image, internet radio show. Short, simple, and concise. I wonder what this sticker up at the top of the site is: ORIGINAL. FUNNY. FREE. I feel like this is a whole other tagline and it is competing with the original ‘internet radio show’. Maybe these could be condensed.

Even though it sticks out, I feel like not enough is being done to make me click the “Listen Now” button.

The first thing I take notice to aside from the banner is a button on the right of the site that says “Listen Now“. It’s strong in contrast, and sticks out slightly from the rest of the site. Being an Internet Talkshow, I imagine this is probably the most important call to action on the page. If so, it probably deserves more attention than it already has.

For some reason, I’m just not drawn to click this button. If I came to the site knowing that I was looking to listen to the podcast, this works perfectly—otherwise I see no real benefit for listening to their show quite yet.

What Confuses Us

I notice the big “Listen now” button. Right above it, I see a bar that says “season 4” and then a search button. Odd. I wonder why the search is pre-filled in with this query. I click inside the box, but the words do not disappear. Hmm. I wonder if I’m supposed to search for this, before starting my own query? — a number of questions come to mind.

Upon further inspection, I notice something I completely missed on first glance. There are links in the copy. But what’s most unfortunate is that they are exactly the same color as the regular text! Even on my color-calibrated monitor, I find it very difficult to parse. I believe I’m not alone is say that finding the links on the pages is a much more difficult task than it should be. Not only does the site avoid the familiar underlined-text convention, but the font is exactly the same color. It’s clearly one of the weakest elements on the page.

There is too much navigation in the top bar. Some of this could be condensed and the offer to subscribe is repeated a little too much for my taste.
The site is also too dark and the I don’t understand why the forums don’t blend more with the site.

The red box right under the navigation seems like it was slapped on the site as an after thought. Features that portray this are usually a usability fail.

The box, as it appears now, seems to be the main content. Usually when you look under the main navigation you find the most important part of the page. In this situation it is not. If you are to move this box and try to rearrange it into your layout I would recommend making the twitter logo link to your twitter profile. It would be natural for the user to try to click on it.

The Absolute Peach seems to be a radio show in a blog’s outfit. I’m not trying to make a case against using a blogging platform to host an Internet Radio Show, I just think it’s important to format and arrange the content in a way viewers will find most useful. Perhaps I’m wrong and the current layout converts quite well, but I imagine that a simple change to the display of the most recent show would get A Lot more people interested in listening: A Play Button.

This mockup is just my idea of how The Absolute Peach could get more people to listen to their latest episode. By just adding a simple play button, I imagine many more peopl will understand how to use this content. (Click for larger image)

What We Like

I read on: “The Absolute Peach” is a free comedy podcast based in England and hosten by BenYoung and Joe Gallagher. Oh, neat. Next, I see the twitter logo, and I’m sure of what will come: follow us on twitter! I continue scanning the page.

I see a “post” (is this a blog?) about the show. It looks like it gives a brief synopsis of the show. Hmm, find out “how to win ourselves a toddler.” Maybe I do want to subscribe to this podcast.

It was very clear to me initially what this site does. I feel like they have a decent brand and I know exactly how to both listen to them and subscribe. It’s very usable. The subscribe icons are also very nice.

I really like the show synopsis, download, and listen now options on recently posted shows. Why can’t all your shows be like this? Allow your listeners to stay within the site, and listen while they can still read the show description. I think the idea you have on the home page should flow along to the shows page.

The Absolute Peach does a really great job with their subscription options.

The Absolute Peach does a great job with their subscription options. They are clear, have easily recognizable visual cues, and they all work just how I’d expect them too. They have 3 methods users can subscribe by including iTunes, RSS, and Email, which are probably the three most common ways to recieve latest episodes of podcasts.

While certainly not a necessity, I can’t see the harm in adding a small link below the subscription options that explains the benefits of subscribing to a podcast. This really applies to any kind of subscription on websites that may have a large group of non-tech-savvy users: Not everyone is familiar with podcasts, or feeds for that matter. Having a simple page that explains why it’s good to subscribe might help viewers who are frightened to try something new.


Overall, will deliver for it’s long-term fan base. While newcomers to the show will probably have a bit of trouble learning about the podcast and becoming involved, long-time listeners have many options to choose from: forums, a store, a myspace profile, and even exclusive content.

I would suggest that the owners of the site, Ben and Joe, take a look at the site from a “new user” perspective. While it’s easy enough to listen to the podcast, and probably to subscribe, the site itself is not easy to navigate. Consider consolidating the navigation, reducing “white space” in the overall layout, and paying more attention to your typography; headers and links should be clear and apparent.

The devil is in the details and there is certainly additional areas for your site to deliver upon.

  • Be Explicit — The flash-based podcast player has a lot of implied functionality that may be a bit disorienting to first-time listeners. You may consider adding subscribe functionality to the popup player.
  • Don’t build broken bridges — When sections of your site look vastly different from your traditional style, you should caution users. Either provide an explicit banner across the top of the “different” section or have it launch in a new window. That way, users unfamiliar to your site won’t feel duped.
  • Lower the Cognitive Load — Don’t provide extraneous information to users who will not use it. Many pieces of information that have a valid purpose on the front page are repeated throughout the site, front and center. When a user is looking for information about your program, for example, do they really need to know about TAPAs?
  • Follow Conventions — When browsing the site, things were not where I expected them to be: the navigation didn’t tell me what page I was on, the search bar had a query filled in, the links weren’t explicit, etc. Make sure that your site doesn’t become unusable to a first-time user.

  • Lighten up the site and try to make it more even. It’s very lopsided and cluttered right now.
  • Blend the forums into the site design more so it isn’t such a strong contrast.
  • Condense or rethink the top navigation. There is too much going on up there and some of it is overkill.
  • Add more to the About Us section, including short bios on the DJ’s.
  • Make sure you have a clear Contact Us link somewhere in the site. Right now I have a hard time finding how to get in touch with the site owners.

  • Condense the two taglines: Combine ‘internet radio show’ and ‘original, funny, free’.
  • Diversify content formatting: Consider spicing up the formatting in your content a bit. Make italics a different color, bold a different color, and links a different color. Your yellow headings are going in the right direction. Diversity often makes content that is easy to scan.
  • Separate third part applications in navigation: Four of your nine links in your main navigation go to outside services such as Myspace, Cafe Press, Wiki, etc. Consider making these a different form of navigation.

  • Make the “Listen Now” button just a bit bigger, and communicate a clear benefit to listening to the show so that more people will listen. There are lots of podcasts, and people don’t have lots of time. What makes The Absolute Peach worth their time?
  • Make the structure of content feel like a Radio Show instead of a blog. Just because a site is powered by a blogging platform doesn’t mean the site has to feel like a blog.
  • The Search Bar is just a bit confusing with the default value. It may be wise to change the default text to “Search” or simply remove it altogether.
  • Having a play button near the different episodes under “Recent Shows” would probably make it much easier for a user to quickly listen to a certain episode.
  • There are a lot of options in the navigation menu. It’s not difficult, but are they really all worthy of primary navigation placement? Could “TAPAS”, “MySpace”, “Wiki”, and perhaps even “Subscribe” be somewhere else to give the other links a bit more prominence?

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  • David Travis Reply

    Your reviewers are a theatre administrator, a student, a blogger and a developer. Although their comments are interesting, what qualifications do they have to review a site’s usability? To achieve objectivity, usability reviews should be structured and formalised, otherwise you end up with a biased, subjective user review, not a usability review.

  • David Leggett Reply

    @David Travis: Thanks David, we appreciate your opinion (especially from someone like you). I’m confident that no one on the UX Panel will argue that we are a top provider of usability reviews (which often range in the tens of thousands of dollars, while our public reviews are free and written for the benefit of all readers rather than a single company), but I do find your statement about our qualifications a bit dismissive.

    If you’d like to get to know a bit more about us and what we do professionally, we’re all friendly and willing to share.

  • David Travis Reply

    Thanks David. Perhaps you could provide more information about each panel member’s credentials in his or her profile page, and include a summary of your methodology in the article. I’m sure your readers are just as interested in how you approach a review as they are in the results themselves.

  • Ben Young Reply

    I’d just like to say thanks to those involved in reviewing our site and offering insight and suggestions for how we can improve it.

    Ben (@ekkoe)

    The Absolute Peach

  • todd Reply

    @david travis um, not sure that you need special qualification to give a usability review. the reviews posted here are simply observations from normal users. maybe some are *right* and maybe some are *wrong* – doesn’t matter, it makes the site owner think about why they’re doing certain things.

  • Matthew Kammerer Reply

    @Ben Young: Our pleasure! It was fun reviewing your site, we have not done anything like it before. :) I hope you found our suggestions useful.

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