The marriage of Meghan Markle to Prince Harry received a lot of news coverage globally, but the Royal Family’s website is not without a hitch when it comes to navigation
The British Royal Family’s website has a splash page, with an image of the newly-wed couple.
Clicking on ‘Explore’ or scrolling down reveals the ‘usual’ home page, which employs tiles, with and without photos, to guide users to content within the site.
The main site navigation is hidden behind a hamburger icon and the label ‘Menu’ at the top right of the page, but there is a brief left hand menu, indicating the user has landed on a page ‘About the Duchess of Sussex’. The only other option in this navigation is ‘Biography’, and there is no breadcrumb trail.
Clicking on the Royal Coat of Arms at the top left of the site header, which appears without a site title, takes the user back to the home page – with the splash image displayed again.
The site as a whole looks appealing, and the use of big, bold images featuring smiling, candid shots of the Royal Family adds a warmth and authenticity to the site. The incorporation of Instagram images on the home page and in other areas also sends a positive message of modernity and inclusivity.
But the overall impression is let down by deficiencies in the navigation.
The fact the home page defaults to the splash image each time the user returns to it is likely to frustrate some, and the lack of any site title or navigation on it could confuse those who arrive here from links or search engines. While devices like splash pages can be used to add impact, especially around important events, the fundamentals of user experience should not be forgotten.
Those users who navigate within the site, or who find themselves sent there from search engines, are given no help with orienting themselves; even clicking on the Menu label and icon does not reveal where in the site they are, and there is no website title to help – just the Royal Coat of Arms.
For example, a Google search for ‘Duchess of Sussex’ returns a page from the site as the first result, so the lack of orienting devices including the absence of a website title will be a major problem for them.
Site managers should remember that it is not enough to ensure good search engine performance: the experience of the user once on the site, especially those who may arrive deep within it, must be taken into account too. And that means providing easy ways of understanding where they are, and how to navigate around the site, in addition to visually appealing and easy to read pages.
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