The Singapore Design Festival 2007, which was held from November 28 to December 8, is tagged as “a biennial platform to promote design and the design industry in Singapore, create opportunities for networking and exchange of ideas, and enhance Singapore as a vibrant and creative international design city”.
But user-friendly is what the website isn’t.
I would’ve been really interested in flying down to Singapore to check out Denimology or Groovisions Sin at the National Museum, but the problem is, I can’t really tell what’s hot and what’s not from looking at the Home page.
If you click on the ‘Events’ link on the navigation bar at the top of the page, you’ll see at lest 6 pages of event listings that include 140 events across the city.
How, then, would you have planned your trip?
According to your interests? How would you know what’s going to be interesting to you?
You’ll need to view event listings in a calendar, which offers information in text-links. But text-links don’t explain anything unless they’re accompanied by a description or a thumbnail of an image.
The festival’s contributors are from “a diverse range of Singaporean and International partner organisations – they range from design businesses, trade associations, galleries, retailers, museums, government bodies, media organisations, to of course individual designers.”
But you don’t really get to see any of these people. There are no pictures to accompany the individual designers’ biographies or their company profiles.
And that sums up the accessibility issues on this site; there are a lot of interesting things for you to see but you have no way of ascertaining exactly how interesting or relevant it is to you, short of going to the event in person.
In other words, it’s a one-way conversation between the website and you.
The website also uses too many unclear labels on the Home page like Ideas Brewery and My Festival. What is Ideas Brewery? An interactive game? An exhibition? A seminar?
When a link isn’t self-explanatory, you’re either going to click on it out of curiosity or you’re going to look at something else. Why take the risk of turning people off your content?
Ideally, press releases should be free-to-download in PDF format. You shouldn’t need to sign-up for something like that, unless it’s for security reasons, in which case I guess it’s perfectly fine to restrict detailed information.
And, given the lead time that would require you to generate the necessary amount of buzz to fuel discussions, why would you need a forum for this kind of website, anyway?
So, yeah, I think that is what stops you from exploring the content on this site: The flow of information.
Ultimately, that’s what separates a good website from a great website, doesn’t it?
Ironically, the theme for the 2007 Festival was ‘Always a better way’.
Right now, I can think of at least 10 ways to improve this website. =)