User Interface Design Principles

The Website I chose to evaluate is www.freightliner.com. This is a site I have to use every day at work because I work for a company that distributes Freightliner buses, parts and service. The design principles Freightliner uses in their Website are consistent layout, content awareness, and aesthetics. The layout is the same throughout the site, and I can tell where I am in the site at all times. The use of white space is comfortable; the pages are not overcrowded. The soothing blue accents bring a feeling of calm. The site lacks the other three design principles which are user experience, consistency and minimal user effort.

The site has many bugs and only runs with Internet Explorer, which is a slow browser. Many times, pages time out when loading. The file cannot be saved until all “problems” with input have been fixed which leads to a lot of wasted time if the site times out because I was multi-tasking and did not fix the problems in order to save the file. Often times, I have to input the same information into their system so many times for the same claim I have it memorized. I dread having to file claims on this site and it was just redesigned!

The Freightliner site lacks consistency which makes their system harder to learn or use, because clicking on the same button or tab does not always produce the same results. The site is confusing and stressful in this regard. Minimizing user effort was not considered; it seems as if it the program was designed for a programmer. It takes a minimum of six clicks from program start to beginning work. The Freightliner site has do-it-yourself training, but the training is ineffective. Screenshots are not utilized, and information overload occurs more often than not. I read that Daimler/Freightliner outsourced the redesign of their site to their biggest competitor, who does that?

Not only is the overall site ineffective for users, but now their competition knows all their product and pricing. This is baffling to say the least, and I am sure the redesign cost them a bundle. Changes I would make to the site include consistency and user friendliness. I would redesign the site to a modest level; possibly even a beginner’s level so most users feel comfortable and productive in getting tasks accomplished, instead of feeling like they are wasting their time. I would incorporate three mouse clicks from the beginning of the program to starting work.

The issue of consistency also relates to user friendliness. I would redesign the program so the user knows what to expect when a particular button or tab is clicked; the same result should happen every time. Freightliner.com does not do a good job of following the six design principles. The site looks aesthetically pleasing, but functionality and ease of use is a bigger concern than looking good, in my opinion.

I think this site is a prime reason surveys should be offered to various users of this system from the ground up so they could at least act like they care. The impression the user gets from this site is that Freightliner does not want to make use of their site easy so maybe they won’t have to pay money out to their dealers who are providing their customers with parts and service.