Review – This is Money

Web page: http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/index.html

Accessed on Sunday, 29th July 2012 @ about 3:30am GMT+1

This is Money screenshot on 29-07-12

General overview
This is the homepage of one of the most important British financial news sites.

The page is quite rich of content that appears to be database-driven; this means there is a database of news and they are displayed on the pages using templates automatically.

It has mainly a three-column layout and it is quite easy to browse. There are some widgets to show financial and trading data in real-time.

Finding the web page
Although the page address is a tiny bit longer than the minimum strictly necessary, on the occasion, this is not a problem, because you can access the same page by just typing the web site address without the final money/index.html part.
As such, the general site address is easy to guess. If you know the site, but not the address, you can also use search engines to find it easily.
A different story is if you do not remember the name or do not know the site at all. Searching for “money” on different website including DuckDuckGo, which automatically searches on different engines and merge the results, the site was not on the first page of results, which means many people may not find it or learn about its existence.

Loading speed
Considering how rich of content the page is, it loads quite quickly and there are no major problem with most of the elements; however, the real-time index and currency widget takes time to load data. This is not a big issue as its size is clear from the beginning and the rest of the page can load and show without delay.

Use of technology
Technology used on the web page includes dynamic content, for the whole page and for specific elements, the presence of some dynamic graphs, buttons to browse elements without leaving the page and some Flash elements, mostly adverts.
No major issues or abuses found here. Particularly commendable the fact the page does not reload itself automatically and does neither load nor play audio or video automatically.
For those who have no access to Flash or disallow Flash content, it’s good news, too. You just miss some adverts, although you may not see pictures that link to specific tools like the investing planner. If you blocked Flash content, you can still access the planner if you click where the Flash content should be displayed. Putting and alternative text link nearby would solve the issue.

Abbreviations
There were plenty of abbreviations, which is quite common on specialised news web pages. Here they may be more tolerated due to need to optimise space on the page and to the fact the page audience is usually expert of the field. This does not mean, however, that many people would not benefit from choice of easier language.

Considering the fact some news are presented more than once on the page and some are relatively old (although usually still relevant), the excuse of saving space is slightly less acceptable.

Logic structure
The page itself as well as the whole site appear to be logically structured.
This is good practice and is not as common as one may think; particularly for pages created automatically by some software.

Fitness for purpose
The web page does what is says on the tin and is mostly fit for its purpose.

Search function
The search feature is both accessible and correctly functional. You can search for articles or shares and, on the result page, there are filters to refine the search.

Site map
At the bottom of the page there is a link to the site map, which is good practice.
The map itself is very clear and easy to use; however, it is possible to believe you can reveal sub entries clicking the triangular icons on the left of each entry, but this is not the case. If it was, it would have been easier to access more specific content in fewer clicks.

Graphic look
The page looks nice, modern and elegant enough and fits the topic. The white background, although is very common and pleasant, may cause excessive background brightness for some users. The site look is built around a three-colour scheme (dark purple and blue on white background) plus grey/black for text.

No overlaps have been found on the page. This means all content is clearly displayed as intended and there is no content hidden by other page elements.

Drop down lists
There were a few drop down lists in a form near the bottom of the page. This may cause problems to screen reader software; however, on this page, the form needed a click on the Submit button to operate. This may sound as bad news as the form is not posted automatically, but in facts it’s good news. Firstly, it is possible to review choices before submitting them; also, it is possible to set all three fields without reloading the page on each change; last but not least, many screen reading programs can cope well with drop down list, provided they require explicit submission.

Accessibility statement
There was no explicit accessibility statement; this means some accessibility programs may not offer users this page to browse. Although it is not always the case, this may also mean accessibility is not given much priority on page development.
Whether the lack of such statement is an actual flaw is arguable; however, it never hurts to add one.

Validation
There is no explicit validation button on the page. This means it is harder to verify the page is compliant with coding standards. A page that is not compliant may show correctly on the devices and browsers it has been tested on, but may present nasty surprises elsewhere.

Using W3C validator, the page showed as XHTML 1.0 Transitional (which is not as good as the Strict coding and is not the latest version). The choice of XHTML is appropriate and the page should show reasonably well on a variety of browsers and devices. The validation returned errors and warnings, showing lack of compliance.

This is not uncommon, particularly for dynamic pages (those created by databases on the fly). No major errors have been detected, but full compliance would not hurt.

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