Two science web-sites deconstructed

Two very different approaches to lab website design, and how they make it work.

By Jonathan Scheff

Writer Jonathan Scheff reported on the winners of The Scientist's Laboratory Website and Video Awards this month in our Careers feature. He consulted with our panel of expert judges and the designers of winning pages to find out what makes a lab website work.

Colorado State University, LaWVA winner.

Design: clean, simple and professional. Easy-to-read text, broken by lines rather than boxes.
Usability: menu bar is present and consistent for all pages, content accessible within one or two clicks.
Content: organized by topic, broken into sections that pertain to a particular audience group-i.e., potential or current lab members and colleagues.

Content: links section contains few links to external resources; since it...

at the University of Alberta

Content: contains detailed information for and about postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduate students
Content: photographs and text express the personality of the lab

Design: pages are chaotic, without consistent layout, fonts, or colors
Usability: the menu shifts position or disappears altogether depending on the page
Usability: inconsistent use of underlined text, used here for either links or emphasis, makes it difficult to navigate

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