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Week 4 : Competitive Analysis 21 April 2010

Posted by Kathy E. Gill (@kegill) in Course Notes.


  • Discussion Leaders: XML [Nazgul], Javascript [Pam], AJAX [Madeline], FTP [Marc]
  • Geek Speak
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Seattle H4H

Recap : Sunday

Need to get everyone’s URL.

Reminder, this was step one in your “student WordPress site” course requirement:

Each student will install WordPress on the UW student web server. Students will select a theme, install it and modify its CSS. Students will select and install widgets. The final site will be graded based on aesthetics, usability, social network integration and creativity. The site does not have to contain content.


  • How to sort course blog by author
  • How to sort blog posts by category, status
  • Lynda.com invitation sent
    * What Is CSS?
    * Working with type
    * Working with color and contrast
    * CSS for navigation (CSSZenGarden.com)
    * CSS for design details
    * ul, li and other  Block Elements

Important! To remove your “in development” site from search engines … Settings -> Privacy -> I would like to block search engines, but allow normal visitors (VQSG-WP, p 238). Remember to change it back when you go live!

Discussion Leaders

  • XML [Nazgul]
  • Javascript [Pam]
  • AJAX [Madeline]
  • FTP [Marc]

Geek Speak

Discussion : Design and Competitive Analysis


Example of a specific user task (and horrible company anticipation/response – tip)

Paper Prototyping (listen for verbs, watch for task focus)

In this class, the purpose of the competitive analysis is primarily to justify the overall strategy for the design.

  • The competitive analysis is a strategic document but it should acknowledge assumptions (or ‘knowns’) about site users
  • Any comparative analysis must rest on heuristics — rules. In the web world, defined/articulated user tasks are used as a method to determine how well visual design is executed (functional design).
  • Some examples:

RE Seattle H4H (or your individual projects)

  • In a generic page hierarchy (as shown in Wroblewski’s article, Boxes&Arrows), which elements should never deviate from this template?
  • Visual hierarchies are common in print — how are they used on the web and how might we use them for Seattle H4H?
  • What criteria are most important to compare when looking at competing websites?


Competitive Analysis Assignment (prep for final project)

Each Seattle H4H group and each individual should prepare a draft competitive analysis by 8 am Wed 5 May.

What are the criteria you will use to analyze each competitive site? What is the format to use for each site? Audience identified? Success criteria identified? Once you have the data, then think about how to best present the results. At a minimum:

  • Org name, URL, home page screen shot
  • Analytical summary, including “do-s” and “don’t-s”
  • Each criterion analyzed, with results

Assignment 2

Pick one genre for in-depth aesthetic analysis. Use the site that you selected as well as three sites from other students. What are the similarities in visual design in these four websites? What are the differences? How effective is the visual design? Give evidence for your judgment.

On the course blog, create a page for this assignment; its parent page should be the assignment page. Analyze each website; link your page to the summary page, Web Site Genre Analysis : Aesthetics. These should be ordered by student.

Due 9 am Tuesday, 4 May (Week 6)
Graded on completeness, quality of analysis; late assignments not accepted.
Total points: 100





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