BookPage.com is a web site that publishes monthly reviews for all types of books. The print edition, news releases, blogs, reader and book club reviews are available on the site. An editorial calendar on the site highlights seasonal topics like Father’s Day, Weddings, Back-to-School and more. Interviews with authors give the reader a closer look at the author. Authors share their perspective on topics like “Behind-the-scenes look at researching a novel” in the Author’s forum.
Web users interact with web sites and expect to locate information easily. The navigation, appearance, legibility, and functionality are just a few of the site dimensions used to measure a user’s experience with the site.
BookPage.com has the potential to draw and retain more visitors with improvements to the site dimensions. A close up view of the monthly book reviews draws the web user to the site. This initial draw may only encourage web users to return once a month. Author interviews published weekly may increase visits. BookPage.com has a great concept for readers by sharing new discoveries that may not be listed on more popular book review sites. The comfortable look and feel of the site keeps visitors from feeling overwhelmed with information.
To reach a larger audience and increase the level of participation on the site, a continuous process of rethinking and rebuilding the web site is necessary.
Site Dimensions to Consider
- Page layouts (balance | contrast | unity)
- Tone and voice
- Writing quality
- Site organization
- Top left area
The BookPage.com logo in the top left corner clearly identifies the name of the site while functioning as a link to the home page. This header provides global navigation within the site. Consistent navigation links are positioned horizontally in a menu format within the page header. BookPage.com meets the criteria for the top left area navigation.
- Folder tabs
The site uses folder tabs for seven major navigation categories including Books by Genre, Authors, Children’s Books, Print Edition, Book Clubs, Readers and Blogs. When selecting a category, the folder tab changes to indicate your location on the site. BookPage.com offers simple and consistent navigation to each page. However, a visit to the BookCase page and the other Blog pages will leave the visitor wondering if you left the site. For the BookCase page you will find the link to the home page on the right navigation side bar.
- Visitors Arrival
Search engines allow visitors to arrive at any page within a site. Considerations for where visitors land may be missing. The site layout aligns more with the printed version. Each page on BookPage.com may not stand alone to provide visitors with insight about all the categories on the site.
Page layouts (balance | contrast | unity)
|Children’s Books Page – Top Screen||Children’s Books Page– Bottom Screen|
- Information at the top
Visitors visiting BookPage.com will find some information above the fold. They need to scroll to view content for the following sections on the Children’s Books Page: Meet the Illustrator, Featured review, What’s New. There are no headlines or content at the top to point these sections. The scroll bar is the only indication of possible content below. Since web users do not like to scroll, links could be listed as menu options.
- Web page topic
An or explanation is needed for each page. Careful scanning and reading is required to determine what each page offers the visitor. Unlike the printed version, there are no explanations for the book reviews. We are not told how the author of the week is selected. We can’t see a listing or previous authors. We don’t know which authors will be interviewed for upcoming weeks. This could draw visitors for a return visit to the site. Each page should stand alone.
- Simple, logical, and familiar icons or graphics
Familiar icons could be used. The visitor can easily scan and find the information quickly. It needs to be logical for the visitor. For example, the envelope icon could be used on the contact page to email BookPage contact, Julia Steele.
- White space, text, and graphics
Each page has a balance of white space and text Books, photos, lines and other graphics compliment each page without competing with the content.
- BookPage.com uses a consistent approach for titles, subtitles, page footers, and navigation links to your home page and related pages. The same font type and size are used consistently for dates subtitles, headlines and links.
- Most of the site is predictable. Some clicks leave you exploring and trying to navigate back to the home page. You’ll need to use the back button after reading blogs from “The Author Enablers.” The site reminds me of the World Wide Web. It’s deeper than the front page indicates. While exploring the site, the visitor will stumble across new information not intuitive to the link or the other content on the page.
- For a seamless system of pages the site keeps most of the content within the site. Instead of linking the visitor to the Harper Publishers site, BookPage.com provides details about the contest sponsored by Harper directly on its site.
- Most information is dated on the site. Publishing dates on the home page would inform the visitor immediately whether the site is up-to-date.
Tone and voice
- Short sentences, active verbs, direct statements should be used to communicate with the visitor. Short headlines could be used to replace longer sentences.
- The tone of the site avoids emphasis on advertising. The visitor can enjoy reading the reviews and interviews without flashing or pop-up advertisement. For each book view, information is available to “buy or borrow the book” and to support your local bookseller or find it at your library. It encourages supporting your community rather than directing you only to the national booksellers.
- I hear BookPage’s voice, not the visitors. When logging into the site a visitor can share a review, add a book club and participate in surveys. There are very few reviews. One book club that meets in Florida.
- Since international visitors may not be familiar with American slang or clichés, plain English is more suitable for web site. BookPage uses well written sentences for its content. Shorter sentences could be used for online viewing.
- The content is legible with little or no grammar/spelling errors.
- The reviews and other content are easy to read.
- Direct access
More organization of content on the site is needed to navigate in fewest possible steps. The look and feel of the pages is simple, familiar, and logical. A site map limited to the major categories is available. A more useful hierarchal structure for the site would guide the visitor around the site with fewer steps.
- Hidden information
If the visitor would like to know more about BookPage’s process for selecting upcoming book reviews, you can find information under the Book Case. This is not the most intuitive place to look for this information. Under the “Morning Show … Murders?” update dated Sept. 16, 2009, BookPage explains how they are gearing up for the holidays early. They explain that they work 2-3 months ahead of publication dates to sort through piles of the best books for the season.
- Single page view
While the current layout is simple and logical to follow, more information could be clearly presented on a single page. BookPage could tell the visitor more about its preview and selection of books, introduce the staff and share their favorite books, and explain how the visitors can participate or share discussions on the site.
- Research search engine techniques and select better key words for the online visitors to discover the site without prior knowledge of the printed magazine.
- Define the areas on the site to give the visitor more insight on how the site might meet their needs. Tell the visitor what the site offers.Take a visitor poll to select an author to interview. Allow the visitor to submit questions for the author of the week.
- Provide an alphabetical listing of book titles and authors on the site. Improve the archival listings.As a reader, I would like to share an online discussion with a group of friends on the site.
- Promote this idea for readers to join an online book club for members in different locations. Offer private book clubs for a group of friends to chat about their book.
- Group Children’s books by age.
- Offer a video with story time for kids. Read one of the new books.