I’m going to be writing on Virgin Australia’s US English website because it was on top of the list and I’m lazy. I’ll be using Ben Shneiderman’s The Eight Golden Rules of Interface Design as my heuristic set, and apply my analysis to one single rule:
Strive for Consistency
One of the first things I look for in a website is consistent use of fonts and sizing, as I consider them paramount to ease of use and navigation in a website. I use Fontface Ninja to evaluate different fonts and sizing as they display on my screen. A quick dash through the different fonts reveals that the following fonts and sizes are used on the site:
- Droid Sans Regular 11pt
- Droid Sans Regular 12pt
- Droid Sans Regular 14pt
- Droid Sans Bold 12pt
- Arial Regular 11pt
- Arial Regular 12pt
- Arial Regular 13pt
- Arial Bold 12pt
- Arial Bold 13pt
- Arial Bold 14pt
- Proxima Nova Regular Old 11pt
- Proxima Nova Regular Old 12pt
- Proxima Nova Regular Old 15pt
- Proxima Nova Regular Old Bold 17pt
- Proxima Nova Regular Old Bold 18pt
- Proxima Nova Regular Old Light 14pt
- Proxima Nova Regular Old Light 16pt
…and possibly a couple of other sizes and varieties that I may have missed.
The three individual font faces are not an unreasonable number, but the variety of sizes is downright maddening, leading to subtle inconsistencies that make it difficult for the eye to properly track changes and interpret contextual meaning of elements.
Virgin has chosen to use their “Virgin Red” color to denote interactive sections (buttons, links, etc.), except for when it hasn’t. Its “Holidays” page, for instance, has several different red-colored text pieces that are not interactive, compared to similar layouts on its homepage that are interactive (see the pricing for each potential trip).
Additionally, the designers have decided to use Virgin Red as the color for different infoboxes and boards, making it more difficult to differentiate between interactive and non-interactive elements.
To add fuel to the fire, some interactive links and elements are dark gray, for some reason. This color is also used for general typography throughout the site, making it downright impossible to find all interactive elements on the page.
I can appreciate that Virgin is working with a limited color scheme due to its corporate identity (red/white/gray), but the lack of consistency in applying those colors has made navigation more difficult than it needs to be.
I’m having to cut my analysis short to get along to a couple of pieces that need my attention this morning, but I’m glad I could provide what I did. I may come back and add more later on as time allows.