One of my all time favorite sites to get the latest travel updates and information on how to save when you travel is the blog, travelisfree.com. It is no secret that traveling can very quickly and easily drain your bank account before you even have time to realize, and this blog does a very nice job at arranging information in a User-Centered Design (UCD) for easy access to the information. The main UCD tactics of the blog include plenty of white space, bottom line up front, and the natural flow of information from general to specific details.
UCD in Connection with Travelisfree.com
One of the UCD tactics that is employed by travelisfree.com is that there is plenty of white space included in the document design. This allows the reader to quickly scan the website for what they are most interested in, read the information, and then continue on with their day. The white space also makes the blog look very clean and organized. If the reader were to visit the blog and instead see tons of writing with minimal white space, then the reader would likely not be able to find the information they need and go on to the next site.
As far as sentence design is concerned for this particular blog, the blog is very easy to read and spurs the reader’s interest by directly discussing the most important matters first, with the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) tactic. Overall, this makes it much easier for the reader to grasp the most important information at the beginning, rather than not being able to find the main point and losing interest. An example of this tactic is “Have a specific use in mind. Then calculate the savings.” By bolding the main point, the reader’s attention is quickly directed to the important information.
The final UCD tactic that this blog pays extra close attention to is always starting with the most general information and working its way down to the more nitty gritty details. This way the reader gets a general feel of what will be discussed in the blog post and can quickly navigate to the information they need. If the reader does not see a topic discussed in the general information at the top, then they will know that what they are looking for will not be found in that blog entry.
With these three main UCD tactics, travelisfree.com is able to organize and manage the information in a cohesive manner for the audience. It is clear that the blog’s intended audience are those who have an interest in travel, with specific emphasis on saving money in any way possible. But who is their shadow audience? It could be argued that their most important shadow audience are the actual companies they discuss, including Hilton and Delta Airlines, among several others. This is because all the information presented by travelisfree.com must be correct down to the T, because the companies could get very upset that they are providing people with false and inaccurate information.
Benefits of UCD
When travelisfree.com takes into consideration specific aspects of User-Centered Design that will make their blog more cohesive and easily maneuverable for their readers, they are taking extra steps to prove to their audience that they know what they are talking about. Since their website looks very professionally developed and clean, it reiterates the point that what they have to say is valid. However, on the other hand, if the blog authors did not value any of the UCD concepts and techniques, then their website would likely look very jumbled and be difficult for the audience to find what they are looking for. The first sign to knowing if a website has accurate information is if its website design looks organized and put together.