Why is it that when you’re creating a linking structure for a website you call it “navigation”, but when it’s for a blog it’s sometimes called “categories”?
Regator.com aggregates the webs best blog posts from around the blogosphere. It has a personality that makes it fun to use, and isn’t hard to figure out.
My first impression of Regator is favorable. Not only is it a familiar three-column layout, it’s clad in my favorite color: green. The load time is really quick. I immediately notice the gator, very cute. Then I see the title of the site, and the text “The Web’s best blog posts from the web’s best blogs.” This gives me a pretty good idea of what Regator is.
Regator is a very bright and friendly site from the first look. I like the simple color scheme. Even though there is a lot of text on the screen, I do not feel overwhelmed by it at all.
The tag line “The Web’s Best Blog Posts From The Web’s Best Blogs” tells me that this site is an aggregator of blog posts.
My first glimpse of Regator leaves my eyes wondering around the page. The logo in the top left and the header in the top middle seem to carry equal importance but after this I am confused as to what I should look at next.
Most of the emphasis on the site seems to be placed on the search bar, which takes a prominent position in the center of the header directly below the banner. If Regator intends for most people to search for what they’re looking for, they’ve done a great job highlighting this feature.
What Confuses Us
I click “personalize My Regator preferences.” I’m presented with a “manage” screen. I fill out some options and I’m ready to return—but I can’t find a way to get back to My Regator. This is very confusing.
When I finally do find my way back to the “My Regator” page, I’m lost again. I can’t find those helpful text boxes or that (what looked to be) swanky video. That’s a pretty big bummer, as I feel like alot of the character and falair of a site comes through when they’re building that relationship. At this point, I’m feeling thrown to the proverbial wolves.
I find a “Behind the Blog” tab and I click it expecting to find information on the Regator Team. Instead, I’m taken to what looks like a secondary blog about what goes on behind the scenes of blogs that are on Regator. Unexpected, but good to have I suppose.
There is no hierarchy of navigation on Regator. On first impression of the site my eyes are fighting to present me with main navigation. There are 3 options I see and none are stronger than the other.
I also think that the options on the profile settings should be links instead of just text next to radio buttons.
I’m not sure I understand the immediate benefit of registering with Regator when I sign up, so maybe other people don’t either. I can see that I won’t be able to vote, or comment, or save favorites without an account, but there must be something more that separates Regator from sites with similar purpose. Incentive, or a call to action to get people to use the site how you want them to (Registration is wanted I assume) is an important part of this sites usability.
What We Like
I decide to see what “My Regator” is all about. I love the starting page, a clear list of delimited text that tells me what this page is about and how to use it. They even include a video. I’m very anxious to get things going. I find the default page for “My Regator” to be very user friendly.
The navigation on this site is very simple and elegant. To the left, you have blog categories and to the right, you have the hottest tags and whether or not they have moved up or down in their popularity.
The categories make perfect sense. Going in to one category makes way for deeper navigation, allowing you to refine what you are looking for. The further you get in, the more information on the page until when you are at the bottom of the category you get the most recent images on one side, and buzz term on the other.
I really like the video tour. I am a big supported of anyone who offers these as it is normally my tool of choice to learn a lot in a short amount of time when I am using a new site or tool.
Videos are showcased in one simple player.
I also really like the tips when you enter your personal Regator page. These boxes describing each option offered really increases the user experience. In addition, the breadcrumb style navigation when you are wading through the categories really helps me feel like I know where I am, this is a great touch!
The design is put together very nicely. Elements seem to be where they belong with a list of categories on the left, content in the center, and a few additional features in the less looked at parts of the site. The center column acts as an aggregator of the latest, best content from blogs around the web, and is organized fairly well.
- Keep Conventions — Because most sites place the “search button” after the input field, I would consider moving in this direction. Also, make buttons have at least a slight bevel with no underlined text.
- Lower the Cognitive Load — Don’t provide extraneous information to users who will not use it. For example, how do the arrows in the right column help the average user? the power user? Keep in mind that “nice to have” doesn’t equal “need to have.” Also, consider renaming “Directory” to “Browse,” as this will consolidate the number of application-specific terms the user needs to know.
- Don’t build broken bridges — As a blog aggregator, your application bridges the experience between a user and their favorite blogs. Consider opening a new window to blog posts by default. For photos linked from Regator, follow the same treatment of videos and audio on the site, loading them inside the page. Lastly, you may consider providing a thin bar across the top of blogs accessed through regator that brings a user back. This way, the user moves along a loop (with your application as a waypoint) and not in a straight line.
- Capitalize on known information — consider having the site load “My Regator” if a user is logged in. This way, a user is more likely to feel catered to, and not like they created their account to be hidden away. Perhaps this is a simple preference. Frankly, I could see using Regator as a way to preprocess my RSS feed.
- Look into a way that we can get back to Regator easily after clicking on a post.
- Use a more readable captcha
- Add in a clear Contact Us Link (or rename “Feedback”).
- FAQ section could be less cumbersome and needs a “Back to Top” function.
- Jazz up the blog, including adding better home navigation.
- If you have a section called Weekly Top Ten, update it weekly.
Re size navigation to establish hierarchy: since there are multiple locations that navigation are present then it may be helpful if top level navigation is larger than other navigation options.
Make links in article excerpts stronger: the links in the excerpts of blog posts are a light gray and do not look like links, even on hover.
Make it easy to contact you: I am a strong believe that contact should always only be one easy click away. I see you accomplish this by feedback in the footer, but maybe add it to the header with your navigation in the top right.
- This may be one of the first sites we’ve reviewed where there is no explained benefit to using the service. Things all work, but to what purpose should it be used? Maybe that’s something still being decided.
- The “Search for a Channel” input in the left sidebar doesn’t look like a search form. Also, I’m not sure what a channel is, though I do have the vague idea it may be a category.
- The tag line may be seen by more people over on the left of the site rather than the right. It’s a pretty good description of the site, but might get lost over on the right.
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