Usability Analysis: L.A Times Homicide Report

L.A. Times created a website that keeps the public aware of the status of daily homicide and offers a space for those who have lost loved ones to commemorate the names to make it more intentional to the community.

Tapping the link homicide.latimes.com opened up a simple black and white layout that was easy to comprehend. The header box at the top of the page had a map of the surrounding Los Angeles area covered in red dots indicating homicides. On the side a statistical bar accounts the many deaths of the past twelve months.

The overall website setup is similar to a blog style so I began scrolling down to get a feel for the setup. A mixture of reported homicidal incidents along with obituaries of these fallen people. The links to the stories were very user friendly in going back and forth between the story and home page. It never took me away from my place on the main page.

I noticed to the left contained search directly box where a viewer could specify a particular area in order to find stories related to homicides in that particular location. Finally, the FAQ which was very extensive, offered multiple links to further explain homicides in the L.A. area. At the bottom it listed different charities that are involved in prevention of this increasing problem.

For the most part this website was very simple, easy to understand, and does not overwhelm its viewer. It contained fewer than 7 options for navigation, it had clear labels, and finding contact labels was very simple. The contact link would direct you to your email which took about 2 seconds, or while you are reading a story at the conclusion it offers email contact and direct links to social media.

However, the two main flaws were lacking of integrated multimedia into the text and navigational buttons remaining the same size on different size screens. The stories were all the same with a picture and short stories depicting the event. Unfortunately, I think a viewer would lose interest fairly quickly. While typing this blog I reduced my internet screen to type and read at the same time, which caused the website to lose the map, and a majority of its buttons. The stories became overwhelming in size and hard to find another link.

My roommate viewed the website and had a very similar experience to me. She noticed the homicide map right off the bat and continued to scroll down to the blog style set up and began scrolling through the different stories. She liked the easy to read type, the search directly bar for homicide victims, and the FAQ/Contact button were right at the top. She never expressed any concerns that bothered her, more of she liked how simple it was to use.

Our experiences were fairly similar in how we maneuvered the page and our initial thoughts of what we were viewing. Both of us clicked on stories and really liked the fact once clicking the back button the page returned to our previous spot on the home page. The main difference between our exploration was I became bored with the lack of multimedia and my roommate was not bothered by this component.

The best parts of this website was the simplicity of finding the offered information. Also the set-up of the search bar started at the left, the stories to the center, and the FAQ/Contact button at the right. The flow makes logical sense that matches the reader’s instinct. All position and location of the links to “continue reading”, were all in the same position to click in order to finish the story.

The whole website is set up very linear and could use adjusting to break up the straight line pattern. Granted there is a map that pinpoints the homicides but there is no other integrate multimedia. I think including news video links would help increase the interest factor of the information provided for public use. Finally, a reevaluation of the set up for smaller screens should be taken in consideration for people reading on the smartphones.

The L.A. Homicide Report holds a lot of good qualities that do not frustrate the reader. Consideration towards upgrading to a more attention holder site would keep improving the efforts of the information.

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