Virtual Neighbourhoods, Virtual Nations
Local Councils Making Communities

NET 24 - Case Study - Jo Byron

One of the first purposes of a website is to attract attention, yet at the same time give the right impression relevant to the content. This is a wide scope and accordingly, the design and image of the researched sites were extremely diverse. In order to attract an online community, local council sites have to temper a business-like approach with a welcoming, 'friendly' ambience.

Generally, almost all the websites researched had good presentation; the designs had clarity, were well structured, not overly-commercialised, good use of colour and most importantly, easy to navigate. All these items add to both the attractiveness of a site and its usability. A local resident is not going to bother returning to an ugly site where the information is difficult to retrieve, accessibility is a motivating factor in encouraging people to come back to the site.

On a technical note, most sites were quick loading without any excessive use of animation and those that did use it, employed it appropriately. One criticism is that the alternative text on some of the images was poor - most sights had some graphics with alternative text, however there was no consistency in any of the webpages.

The one constant similarity in the presentation was the use of images of local scenery. This is important for a couple of reasons, the first is that the local user is able to visually identify with the site, it draws them into the site and establishes a feeling of comfortable familiarity. The second reason is tourism, it allows the
non-resident to obtain a glimpse into the native surrounds and receive a "feel" for the area.

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