Sunday, October 13, 2013

Lab 02: Answers part 4:

The user group for the website we are creating for the fish creek animal hospital can be estimated by considering the service provided by the site.

Firstly, we can assume since the site is representing an animal hospital that most if not all of the users for this site will own pets or have animals in their care. In this we could have people who keep animals as pets or keep animals on farms. Perhaps we could have some users who are breeders or run petting zoos etc.

Secondly, we can also make assumptions of a minimum age of the average user of this site. Seeing as the site provides information on an animal hospital, we can judge that the average age of the user must be old enough to own an animal and be responsible for its well-being. We can only estimate a minimum age of over 16 years of age however as people can obviously own pets at any stage of their adult lives, however we can assume that a substantial portion of our user group will be elderly people as there is a specific "House Calls" service provided which would directly benefit older people with animals in need of veterinary services.

We can also assume that the user group targeted for this website is located in a specific geographical area, as the website is providing information on a hospital that is located Fish Creek. We can assume from this that users that will find the website most useful are to be found living in or around this local area. If we had further information about this specific area we could make even further assumptions about the user group for this website, for instance, what is the average age and size of the population? Is the population well educated? Are there many farmers, horse trainers, cattle breeders etc. in the area? And so forth.

Based on these assumptions we can outline some guidelines that our website should adhere to in terms of design:

1) Easy usability
The website should function properly with clear and direct instructions of how and where to find information relevant to the users needs. In the specific case of a hospital, we can assume that the vast majority of users will be using the website with a specific problem with an animal under their care. Also, we can also assume that many people who will be using the website will have urgent problems and need information as a matter of emergency. For this reason we must ensure that all the websites features such as searches, hyperlinks and pages are working properly.

2) Visual feedback and clear information
The website we design should react when the users interact with the interface. Buttons should be visibly clickable, icons should chance colour when hovered over etc. This provides the user with the sense that they are in control of where they are in the site and how they navigate through the site and find the information they require. It is especially relevant if we are considering elderly users or users with disabilities which make it difficult to see. Visual feedback will help all users but these groups especially understand how to navigate to the information needed.

3)Categorized information 
The users of this website might be only looking for a small amount of information which is relevant to their specific problems. The fact that the website is for an animal hospital means that there might be a large amount of information and pages available on the website. Easy navigation and understandable website hierarchy is essential for any website but especially one which must have so much varying information categorized. We can assume that the users will want to access information that they need very quickly therefore we must design the website in such a way that streamlines their searches very quickly so that they are not shown information or brought to pages that are not relevant to their needs. One way of achieving this is by the use of an internal search engine and drop down menus. Another option is to have further options avaible when hovering over a heading or subject, showing what information can be found once the user clicks the hyperlink.

4)Website uses plain and understandable language
This is especially relevant as the content of the website may contain very complex medical terms and conditions for different animals. It would be very easy for the websites language to become confusing and too technical for the average user, especially if the user is elderly and has little or no experience with the medical world.

5)Website should use colour effectively.
Given that the website is for an animal hospital and that the user group will more than likely be people who have animals in their care, the websites overall look should be calming and comforting. The use of calming non vibrant colours may be used in order to try and help users keep calm while utilising features of the website.

6) Website should be designed for mobile technology. 
Aside from the fact that the way people brows the internet is shifting from desktop to mobile devices more and more, the context of this website makes it especially important that the website be designed with mobile users in mind. Animals are very often out doors and if the users are looking for information after an animal has an accident, they may need to do so from a mobile device. Also seeing as many users might be accessing the website to find out its exact location means that many users may be trying to find this information on the move or in an emergency. 

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