VNU : Scrambling information
Site mapping logic increases the usability of a skills and services listing.
VNU, the Netherlands-based business publisher and market researcher, uses an animated visual index to give access to information about its main divisions and operating units.
Clicking on the Organization heading in About VNU sets off the index, with the first of several business ‘cards’ emerging from the left margin and edging its way across the content area. Others follow at various speeds in an assortment of sizes and at variable heights up and down the page. As many as seven are on show at any time, though overlapping can cause some to be obscured from view. The ‘cards’ are colour-coded according to which of three divisions the unit belongs and users are advised to “Click a logo” for more information. This leads to the unit’s website, which opens in a secondary window.
For a company that markets itself as an information provider – the word ‘information’ is in the title of all three divisions – VNU has come up with a particularly bizarre and inappropriate feature for telling the world about its operating units. While the company would doubtless prefer the term ‘distinctive’ to bizarre, its Organization display is neither particularly usable nor user-friendly or effective.
Use of a visual ‘ticker’ is itself rare and generally found in timelines or brand range displays. Its appropriateness here is questionable as there is no sequential logic to the display (as there is with a timeline) and anyone looking in this section for information about the company is unlikely to have or devote the time to watch all the business cards sail serenely across the screen. Lack of a static index exacerbates this because there is no knowing how many cards there are to see. Variable sizing (some of the cards are effectively unreadable and the display is not adjustable) and overlapping in the display further tax the patience and increase the likelihood of users abandoning the feature. In terms of marketing and information provision that conveys only one thing: ‘own goal’.http://www.vnu.com
First published on 08 August, 2006