We are now wrapping up the NHL (National Hockey League) season with the hunt for the Stanley Cup. My team, the Washington Capitals, have just wrapped up their first series and are moving on. So, I was interested in viewing the Playoff brackets. I’ll walk you through a typical user experience and how the website NHL.com is successful and also lacks in providing information.
Mission: Find Stanley Cup Playoff Brackets
Rules: 3 Mouse Clicks to get to destination
I go to http://www.nhl.com and begin my search. A typical user will scan the page such as reading a book, so they will start from the top-left, scan across, and read down. The first place I look is will be the upper-left hand of the screen.
Ahah, first sign of success. I found exactly the right subject, on the very first glance of the website. Nice job NHL.com. So, here’s my first mouse click. The importance of the 3 Mouse Click rule for user experience is based on the fact that a user will lose attention if they do not find what they are searching for within 3 mouse clicks.
Begin scan again. Again we scan like a book, large graphics will grab our attention. Graphics that change, move, fade will also grab attention while our scan takes place. We start at the top of the page and immediately we find a Web Rule broken: Whitespace!
In an effort to add a Facebook Like feature, leverage the Social giant for advertising, there is now unused space on the page, which is valuable real-estate. This is a major flaw.
My scan continues looking for the Playoff brackets. I see that I’m in the right section. I see my team taking the win for the series. I see some news, some current updates, some cool graphics… No brackets yet.
The next logical step seems to view the standings, which includes an easy use drop down menu, very common these days, and look here, we have “Playoffs.” Lets click there; that will be our second click out of 3 that we are allowed.
We begin scanning again, and look here; we have a bad page; a bad link. Ughh… for being in the Playoffs, you would think that this would be priority. NHL.com is probably having it’s highest traffic of the year, being the first series of playoffs. I imagine it drops as teams drop out of the playoffs.
Lets try searching. I type in “Playoff Bracket” and find no relevant terms. Only Articles show up; no spotlight search results, nothing… and that was my 3rd click. At the very minimum, an article could have been published to link appropriately. As a user, my attention has dwindled, and now I move away from NHL.com to Google.com to do a Google search for “NHL Playoff Bracket”.
This is terrible news for NHL.com. I exhausted my attention on what should be the source for my Hockey updates. I’m now using CBS Sports or ESPN to find my Playoff Brackets, all of which easily showed up as a Google search result. NBC / MSNBC actually showed up in the “Sponsored Links” section. In-fact, I was astonished to see that Google had no search results linking to NHL.com until page 5! I noticed EA Sports NHL Hockey and Facebook links before I saw NHL links.
We easily noticed several locations where NHL.com could have placed Playoff Bracket links, but where I had to change locations and adapt to the website to solve this puzzle. It shouldn’t be a puzzle; during major interest changes, websites need to prioritize what users will most likely want to find on their website and ensure that navigation is easy and accessible.
Now, I’m not using NHL.com for my NHL information…? In-fact, I rather enjoy the other websites for re-caps anyways…
Shame, shame… just a simple walk though. There are many other rules for user experience that I can go over. I might end up making that a page.