I visited RCTC's website to apply some of what I've been learning in Steve Krug's book. The main web page is http://www.rctc.edu.
It's a site I am familiar with because it is my workplace. Sometimes I find the site useful and helpful; other times I find it pretty frustrating. Now that I had some background knowledge in web usability, I was excited to apply it.

In Brief, here's how the site did on the Trunk Test.
  1. Was the site ID on every page? Yes.
  2. Did each page have a name? Yes.
  3. Were there sections? Yes.
  4. Was there local Navigation? Yes.
  5. Was there a "You Are Here" indicator? Yes.
  6. Was there a search tool? Yes.
It looks like RCTC passes the first test of usability!

A More In-depth Analysis


Navigation - The Home Page
The home page is busy. There are a lot of things going on. However, visual hierarchy is in place. The two navigation bars at the top provide clickable links to all the important areas. These are prominently displayed on clickable tabs with drop down menus. The designer has made use of recognizable conventions. The site resembles other education sites with similar terms on the tabs. Users should be able to find what they are looking for.

The page is somewhat distracting though because of a slideshow that plays with 4-5 changing slides pertaining to events and activities. It is hard to know why these certain events show up on this slide show. Some slides pertain to potential employees who may be looking for a job, some pertain to current students with information about programs or financial aid. Some slides would be directed at community members who might want to attend a concert or an art exhibit that is open to the public. It's distracting and as a user, you may or may not decide to take the time to watch or click through a series of slides that both do and do not pertain to you. However, I have learned that if I ignore these slideshows, I often miss out on key information or events on campus because they are difficult to find any other place.

Persistent Navigation
The site did a pretty good job of using persistent navigation elements.
The visual hierarchy remains consistent from page to page. I started at the home page, went to Future Students > admissions >admission requirements. All six items from the Trunk Test persist from page to page. I was pretty impressed with this.

When I got into the lower levels of hierarchy, I found that Krug's claim that the navigation declines at the lower level (he talks about this on page 73) to be true. Once I was at the Admissions Requirements Page, the design was not as strong. The page was text heavy - not scannable. There were some decorative images that were distracting because they were not clickable, nor did they add any useful information.
This was a page the user had to "muddle through." I thought this was unfortunate because this is an important page for catching an incoming student. I would like to have seen the strong navigation elements persist through the entire application process.
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