Site Seeing: Website satisfaction

Greg Skinner ( is a communications consultant...
June 1, 1996

Greg Skinner ( is a communications consultant

for Mina Research and a marketing columnist who specializes in the kids market. He also admits to having an unhealthy obsession with the World Wide Web. KidScreen asked Skinner to do some browsing on our behalf and report on some of the interesting kids sites as seen from the eye of a near-kid himself.

Website satisfaction is derived from a wide range of elements, of which content is the most apparent. But don’t be mislead into thinking that’s the end of it. So many sites come across as flat and two dimensional because they look at things from a technical standpoint rather than understanding how people move around an environment, how they feel and how they react.

Good sites flow because they offer the freedom to go where you want and do what you want. This d’esn’t mean giving total control to every visitor that passes through the gate. Instead, it ensures that all of the necessary tools are present to satisfy user needs as they cruise. The best sites don’t even let you know they’re doing things for you. They’re virtually transparent in the way they let you manipulate the page.

In understanding that users don’t simply want to go to a site, but also want to be immersed in it, a top-notch home page plays the role of assistant, catalyst and coach all in one. If you plan to really nail it, it means understanding what your target audience is all about, what they want and what they need.

Getting things like response, transition and flow nice and crisp are big steps in getting the location really tight. And Web site dynamics are not as tangible as you might think. So often it’s just something that you feel. It’s not hard to get it right if you just remember that the key to a user’s heart is in his head.

Street Cents

This site, which is aimed at money-conscious kids, spun off the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s show of the same name. And with the theme of your money-and how to keep it-you’re bound to learn a thing or two.

With thirty-five (wow!) Topics that expand on everything to do with consumerism (no kidding), there’s a ton of useful info here. Some of the explanations leave you with info that’s kind of beige and could use more depth, but its topical nature tends to compensate.

To help things along is a Search tool that works really, really well, pulling together the things you want in a snap. Other nice tidbits are posted broadcast times of the show (practical), a launching pad to sponsors’ sites, and Street Cent’s promise to respond to every letter they get (brilliant if they do).

Cruising around, you soon realize that the site is almost completely devoid of pics. And when you actually do find the few images scattered around the site, yeeks, they look all fuzzy and lack definition. Career Profile and the (product) Test section are the two that would benefit the most from a visual boost, but it never really becomes an issue elsewhere because of the excellent content.

Suggestions imbedded in the Topics section are quite helpful though a bit preachy at times (‘avoid trendy clothes’!?).

Downloadables are few and far between, but for once truly unnecessary. The only ones available are the Street Cents theme music and a hairy embryo screensaver that can be kind of fun, but not that easy to set up. It’s all kind of low-tech, but then that’s what makes it so adorable.

Icons at the bottom of each page that let you move around with ease keep everything flowing quite nicely. The lack of pics also helps.

The mass of content, which is never abyss-like, just seems to keep going. It’s this depth that lets the site stand easily on its own two feet.

This is an excellent example of a reference site with splashes of good entertainment to keep everyone happy, interesting anecdotes and explorations-including things you already knew, but needed to be reminded of. Yup, it’s always nice to have a few more dineros in your pocket.


Welcome to the wonderful world of comics. Wildstorm, the superhero series produced by one of the hottest comic producers out there (Image) is, as one would expect, blazing. It’s synced with the books, plus there’s excellent content and outstanding visuals. It all works amazingly well.

First off, the main index totally reflects the content: no clutter and no garbage and no problem zipping around. In every case, you can click on the icon at the top of the screen and you’re back to the main page for that section. Ahhh, the simplicity. Considering how it increases fluidity, you wonder why every site d’esn’t have this.

Coming Soon gives you a taste of upcoming issues with a groovy lava lamp background (color is so often overlooked) and directional arrows that actually work. Lovely. But what? No pics, just details! It’s fuel for anticipation and, yes, it d’es work.

There are more mailing opportunities here than the post office. You can send letters to your favorite character, writer, inker, series, department and on and on. But the big question here: D’es anybody get mail back? Feedback is nowhere to be found, which makes the whole thing very vacuum-like.

Renowned for its imagery, it’s no surprise that Wildstorm artwork blows away so many others. Tyson couldn’t throw a harder punch, though patience is essential while waiting for the pictures to resolve. But in the end, it’s all worth it.

When you actually reach Comics, you find more crisp imagery (including issue #1 covers), and the Background section offers excellent summaries of each book. Although largely superlative in nature, images overwhelm the average screen and make scrolling substandard. Ahh well; as the saying g’es, anything good is worth waiting for.

The trading card section consists of Wildstorm trading samples and past releases. It’s nice and all, but looking around, it could definitely benefit from some more depth, especially considering that cards are a world unto themselves and there’s a whole lot to be discussed.

Other goodies are creator bios and a monthly newsletter (similar to Coming Soon). The former are too short and leave you hungering for much more detail, but the latter is an excellent use of the medium. Why? Because it’s here that they put out the word for new talent.

There’s definitely some patience involved when it comes to the images, and what this site could use is more industry news. Everyone likes gossip, and true enthusiasts want every scrap of info that they can get their hands on. Overall, this site is excellent.

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