Friday, August 10, 2007

Some fun with a site design

Since I met Mr.Carrabis at eMetrics and attended his fabulous presentation about the human side of online marketing, I'm much more aware of how subtle design elements might affect the user behavior. So let's have some fun with a site my wife stumbled on.

What's wrong with this site?

Take a look at the picture on the right (click to see a larger snapshot). The site is actually in French, so don't worry about the wording: just focus on the design. What's your first impression? What's wrong?


If your first impression was one of confusion (or maybe even disgust), you've guessed right. My 15 year old daughter wants to study in an art-related field (see one of her drawing below) and she learned that one of the most difficult thing to draw are portraits. Why? Because our brain is so good at interpreting human faces that anything that appears to be an anomaly will literally jump at our face (sic!). Humans have been doing it for millions of years to know if the person in front of us was hostile or friendly. You've probably heard about the little experiment where you take a person's picture and use Photoshop to create a half mirror representation of the face. We instantly detects there's something wrong.

Why do this? What could be done instead?

This company is about human resources. I don't know anyone there and don't have a clue about who designed it. My only guesses for such a choice are: a) represent the two sides of the job hunting process: employer/employee. b) be politically correct by showing mens and womens "at the same level". Furthermore, the animation makes us focus too much on the pictures instead of the left and right-side navigation.

There's a nice section where employers and employees gives short testimonials. Wouldn't it be great if their picture was taken and the blurb be put right beside it on the home page? A single display (maybe chosen at random) and previous/back buttons would be less intrusive than an automated animation. I would love to do A/B testing on that and see the results!