NMA awards 24/25 for ‘usability’ to andymurray.com

screenshot of the News widget on AndyMurray.com

low contrast pallete, bleed-through from photo background and fixed size for text make for difficult reading ( © andymurray.com, reproduced under Fair Dealing in British Copyright Law for the purposes of criticism)

Admittedly, New Media Age doesn’t award a score for ‘accessibility’, but I usually find that the two go hand in hand.

is built in Flash, unless you’re using an iDevice, in which case they have a compatible version which I assume is built in HTML5.

Once the annoying and pointless animations have finished, you actually get to some content. In the left hand column you’ll find a News widget, that if you accidentally move your mouse over, does lots of hiding and revealing. I love a booby-trapped webpage.

The colour scheme for News is semi-translucent grey box over a blue photo, with grey text and blue link text. The blue is chosen to match the sunny blue skies of the background image. This palette of minimal contrast shades means that the rather small text is pretty much unreadable. But then again, we all know that the News is that Andy Murray gets knocked out, crushing the dreams of British tennis fans, so no big loss there.

On the subject of text size, as the site is built in Flash, you can’t make that tiny text any bigger by pressing Ctrl+ or whatever your browser uses as the standard.

In the next column, you’re invited to ‘Win a Head Racquet’. Except the competition is closed. If they’d used a more flexible CMS, they wouldn’t be forced to have a spot permanently there for a competition, open or not. I forgot, Andy Murray’s role in the Universe is to crush the dreams of British tennis fans, so perhaps this is entirely conistent.

On the same page is a link to Andy’s blog entries (well, Andy’s PR team’s blog entries as its very obviously not a personal blog). Again the entries are rendered in Flash so I can’t copy-paste any of the text. But I did a search for the phrase “Andy appears in a new TV ad to help launch the new Adidas miCoach app” to see if the site was indexable and findable by Google Blog search. I was suprised to find that it was, but not so surprised to find that the link returned by Google doesn’t work.

The Andy Murray Forum is powered by vBulletin, so does exactly was it says on the tin. Well done!

If he’s your type, the Andy Murray Style Gallery is quite nice, including sharing buttons for Facebook and Twitter. However, the Flash gallery does not allow you to view the images in a large format, so if you want to examine his six-pack in detail, you’re screwed. The scrolly list-box where the different collections are held is built in Flash, so keyboard controls like PageDown don’t work, and you have to recognize that this thing that doesn’t look like all the other scroll bars on your computer screen is indeed a scroll bar.

I clicked on Behind The Scenes on the Home page expecting something different, but it goes to the same page of pictures and videos as Style Gallery.  If they were clever, they could have had the same gallery page opening by default at the fashion pictures for Style and on one of the training videos for Behind the Scenes, but they didn’t.

The Social Media widget links out to pages on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, which is what you’d expect. Again, my personal view is that hovering over the widget and having it change blurbs for each service is annoying.

The final column includes information on Andy’s next opponent. Nothing in the widget – like his name – is clickable apart from the very bottom where it says “Cinicinnati Masters 1000” in that weird sky-blue. Hovering over the text to see if it is a link doesn’t work because… its Flash! The text also says “When” with the answer “Not B412, Thurs”. That’s a wee bit leet txt spk for my liking, and you’d really have to click through in order to find out that they meant “not before 12 noon ET on Thursday 19th August”.

Once you have clicked through, you don’t get any more verbose info about the time this match is likely to be played, and in general you have the same problem of a very low-contrast palette for text.

Now for the sponsors: the Flash design of the main page actively discourages you from scrolling down the page. A more traditional HTML website might have had content bleeding down the page, encouraging viewers to scroll down the page. The pixel-precise control freakery of Flash discourages this. So sponsors, your logos all appear below the fold on a page where no-one will ever scroll down. Plus, you logos appear as translucent ghosts over a very busy background image. Is that really what you pay your sponsorship money for?

Scrolling all the way down there, I also spotted a link to ‘Switch to HTML version‘. I did, and the site looks almost the same but without any of the usability problems presented by building a site entirely in Flash. Which begs the question, why did they bother building both?

For a laugh, check out the 404 Page

About Graham

Forty-something gay geek living in Kings Cross with my collection of shiny computers and my fish.
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