Website Review & Rate:

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You can’t avoid hearing about American Idol these days (unless you happen to live in a cave). So to kick off the first in my new series of ‘Website Review & Rate’, I will be taking a good look at how the website fares. And because of the web analytics geek in me, I also take a look at what analytics tool they are using, and make suggestions for what they should test and improve. Lets get started…

Look and Feel – 9/10
The good: I have to say that the website looks very fresh and cool, and is nicely layed out, makes good use of relevant images, and is consistant with the general American Idol brand and image, and their target market.
The bad: Nothing that initially came to mind, apart from an overdose on Coke, Ford and AT&T ads…

Intuitiveness and Usability – 6/10
The good: Luckily, because of the show, most people will already know what this site is about, so it automatically gets a certain level of intuitiveness. Visitors usually won’t have to worry about a clear tag line or description of what the site is for and how it helps the visitor.

The bad: When I first got here, I was kind of overwhelmed with choices. Too many features, with too many things scrolling and appearing, all seeming to vie for my mouse click.  It’s also hard to tell what words are clickable, because they don’t use standard underlined link conventions. However, while watching the show last night, I noticed it was very hard to find the numbers on the website to call/text for voting on the contestants – and why can’t you vote for contestants online anyway? A lack of site search really doesn’t help either – its the first thing most people look for if they can’t immediately find what they want within a few clicks. Mouse rollovers on the main contestant navigation would have been good too, just in case you didn’t know which contestant was who.

Sticky/ Web 2.0 Content – 9.5/10
The good: The American Idol website offers plenty of great sticky and web 2.0 content for its visitors. It even has a ‘MySpace’ element to it – you can join the ‘MyIdol’ community, get your own page, make comments, add friends (including the contestants and judges!) and more. Other great stuff to interact with and keep you coming back for more includes videos and photos (and the ability to rate them), polls, blogs, forums, news and downloads. You could literally spend hours a day on this site!

The bad: As mentioned before, if anything bad, there is kind of too much sticky/web 2.0 content to choose from when you first get to the site!

Overall Rating – 8/10
This is a very good website overall, although it suffers from being a little too ‘busy’ and tries too hard to be everything at once. Its actually what I would expect from Fox Interactive Media, who make this website. They obviously spent considerable money and time producing this website.

Analytics/Testing Ideas (non-geeks can avoid this section!)
One of the biggest surprises I found on this website, was the fact that Google Analytics are their analytics provider. Very strange considering this tool is more suited for smaller websites, and offers very little in terms of custom tracking. Site Catalyst would have been more appropriate, especially given the wide-spread use of videos on this site – tracking that Site Catalyst are industry leaders for.

In terms of testing, while their is no clear goal for this website, I would definitely test the impact of a site search, test focusing more on joining the community aspect (surely leading to even more repeat visits), and test offering less content on the homepage. I would also test the option of being able to vote online – i’m sure it would drive even more repeat traffic. Come on American Idol, give it a try…

>>>> Well thats it for the first in the series. Hopefully you enjoyed it. Feel free to make suggestions for improvements, other sections for rating, and even ideas for what websites to review in the future. Thanks!