See also: Undergraduates Review Kairos; Undergraduates Review This Site
in my humble opinion, are the main problems with
the sake of launching a discussion, I'd suggest narcissm and defensiveness.The
web site seems less interested in presenting the peer-reviewed content,
and more interested in establishing the institutional identity of Kairos.
|The Kairos web site used to be organized in such a way that
a visitor to the home page had to perform seven discrete actions
to get out of the journal's editorial apparatus and read an actual article:
Although I consider myself an experienced web user, I still had to visit and re-visit the Kairos home page many times -- over a period of months -- before I finally figured out how to get to the content. I simply wasn't thinking the way Kairos editors probably expected a typical visitor to think. I wondered whether the Kairos editors had ever actually sat down and watched a first-time visitor try to use their site.
The overreliance upon flashing banners and pop-up gizmos makes me imagine that the editors are desperate for attention. Each time I found myself clicking and scrolling, clicking and scrolling past the dense front-matter, I imagined the editors saying, "Hey, remember us? See how fancy our web site is? That means we're just as interesting as the people whose works we're publishing!"
screen capture (c. 1998) of the Kairos home page is marked with
a red horizontal line, 480 pixels from the top of the page -- to indicate
where the first screen of text leaves off on a 640 x 480 pixel monitor.
The "Current Issue" icon, here circled in green, falls "below the fold,"
which makes it hard to find.
sizes and screen resolutions do get more generous each year... but regardless
of the user's screen resolution, the "Current Issue" link still languishes
at the bottom of a stack of hard-to-distinguish buttons.
issues in volume 2 and volume 3, clicking on "current issue" took the user
to a hard-to-read splash page. The dark red text and the blue linked
text is nearly impossible to read on my CRT monitor at work, although the
contrast is clearer from my LCD monitor at home.
issue of Kairos features a rather busy graphic labeled "cover web".
Once I realized that "cover web" is the Kairos term for "lead story",
I deduced that clicking on the graphic would take me to the story; instead,
it just links to an abstract of the cover story, a little farther
down the page.
particular cover story consists of an impressionistic sketch of 23
numbered heads; clicking on each head is apparently supposed to display
text in a pop-up window, but when I click on them, nothing seems to happen
-- the popup window keeps disappearing behind the main browser window.
Due to the technical problem, I have never bothered to read this "cover
web". Perhaps you'll have better luck.)
|Further complicating matters, this
windoid pops up, overlapping my browser's "go back" button. I always
cringe when such little boxes pop up unannounced, because I feel like someone
is trying to shove an advertisement in my face.
as the home page buried the "Current Issue" button, the "At a Glance" page
(at seven screens, it requires much more than a glance) buries its table
of contents. Further, articles and editorial content are distributed
among such subsections as "Cover Web", "Features", and "Logging On".
I'm simply not sure what's supposed to be in each section. I'm sure
that the criteria are explained somewhere on the web site, but I don't
want to hunt through the editorial infrastructure looking for the explanation
-- I just want to find an article.
on the title of an article does not actually take you to the article, but
rather to an abstract page.
idea of keeping a collection of conventional prose abstracts on-site makes
tremendous sense, given the wide variety of hypertexts Kairos publishes.
Nevertheless, this page is one more barrier between the home page and the
article I am trying to read.
hyperlink on Kairos seems to lead only to article
abstracts, instead of articles.
first glance, it looked like an ad, so I ignored it. (See Jakob
Ten New Mistakes, #10: "Anything That Looks Like Advertising [is a
second glance, I read the message "enter the active version of this hypertext."
But I just wanted to read an article. Once again, I had to learn
another non-standard term provided by the Kairos editorial board.
Nielsen observes that increasing conservativeness of the average web user means that, no matter how useful the designers may feel a new feature could be, the average user does not want to spend time learning how to use it.
Nielsen's Law of the Web User Experience: Users spend most of their time on other sites. Thus, anything that is a convention and used on the majority of other sites will be burned into the users' brains and you can only deviate from it on pain of major usability problems. (Nelson, "Interface Standards and Design Creativity")The paradox of the active user suggests that web surfers would rather wander around aimlessly than pull over and study a road map. In fact, "a website with a help system is usually a failed website". The Kairos web site is still too dependent upon HTML gizmos such as frames, flashing banners, and other gizmos. Too often, these are technological attempts to solve conceptual problems.
designers should examine their site from the point of view of the average
visitor, not from that of the technically savvy colleagues they wish to
impress. Theorists and experts rarely gravitate towards simplicity.
The result, as one of my students wrote, is that "[s]ometimes when a site
changes for the better, it is actually worse for users."