Kid Friendly?

I sometimes wander onto Nickelodeon.com in search of cartoons to fill my time, and much to my dismay I have to sift through a website that I don’t find all that attractive, intuitive, or really even as fun and kid friendly as I would want a kids cartoon network to be. I don’t think I can remember a time when the Nickelodeon website was actually a fun place to be, it was either slow or ugly, so I guess at least they haven’t dropped in quality.

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1. Everything looks the same! Ads are the same size as side bar items, I guess thats a great way to get children to click through your ad sponsors but its also pretty terrible design in my opinion. 

2. Where is the color? This is a website geared mostly towards children and tweens with the occasional teenager and adult paying it a visit. Why isn’t it a little more colorful and playful? Where is Nickelodeon’s brand orange? Everything is just so white and grey that my eyes begin to glaze over as I look at the page.

3. Nothing is very eye-catching which gives it no sense of hierarchy in the design. Shouldn’t there be a main focus on the page? I nearly missed the thin “Now on TV” bar containing the link to their show time listings.

4. Where are the cool interactive pieces of the puzzle? Shouldn’t there be buttons that change shape or things that appear after mousing over certain areas of the website? Everything is very static, the only mouse overs are in the bar of shows underneath the main menu and then they’re just simple word bubbles.

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5. Ads are everywhere. I understand the need to make ad revenue, but some of these adds feel so poorly placed. There are banner ads that load in at the very top of your screen and great big sidebar ads that are confusing and sometimes more exciting than the actual website.  At one point I actually had a banner ad load in over top actual information on the website.

6. Auto-playing videos. As soon as you load onto a show’s page a preview for the next episode starts auto-playing, sound and all. This is annoying for pretty obvious reasons, especially if you’re someone who likes to open tabs and forget about them for awhile.

7. So many white, rounded-corner divs. So many of them. Like I said above, theres a real problem with hierarchy on these pages and the lack of individual looking divs doesn’t help. There are a few pages (Ninja turtles and Sponge Bob) that break away from the mold and create divs that aren’t entirely contained in a round-cornered rectangle and it makes their pages so much more interesting.

8. Speaking of looking different, nearly every show has the same exact layout which could be great if they were given some individual features apart from a different background image, but they aren’t and so they begin to blend together. I suppose the most common user would know the show they were looking for and wouldn’t be browsing the website for new shows to be interested in, but if I were looking for something new to watch none of these shows would be getting my attention!

9. They’re using images for header text. Why would they do that? The front page links to episodes and games as well as the “now on TV” text are all images that pixelate when the page is zoomed in on. Why would you add more images to your website when you could just as (if not more) easily format type for your headers?

10. Its just so boring. Even with all of its cluttered imagery and links to different places, this website is boring to look at. There is no one particular thing that catches my eye when I look at it, and it makes me want to come in, get what I came for, and get out as quickly as possible. The page seems a little too sterile for a kids website, especially Nickelodeon who is known for sliming people!

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In the end I know the website isn’t built for me, but I honestly don’t think I would have liked it any more if I was their target demographic.

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