In the interests of critiquing an international selection of webpages, I’ve decided to take a closer look at the English-language version of the Russian State Library webpage. The layout is straight-forward and easy to navigate around. Clean and uncluttered, the webpage lends itself to to a quick skim, as Krug noted in his 2005 book, Don’t Make Me Think.  By and large, the interface makes sense – any user, regardless of language, can intuit what is on the site and where it is, which is a good thing as we’ll see in a moment. The homepage of the site does have some large chunks of text, but these are rendered a little more accessible by having the important information in bullet points, with the absolutely most important information as the top bullets, keeping in line with the fact that most people skim information and want to see the most important information at the top.

Unfortunately, one of the major downsides to the website is that which we saw before: the language issue.  While the site is ostensibly presented to users in English, there are several sentences and places where translation has not occurred, most notably in the large images that cycle by highlighting the library’s collection, and at the top search area.  This latter one is perhaps the most inexcusable, as two of the three options are translated to English, and as they are simple text, they would not require a great deal of work to translate (unlike the images, for which an entirely different version of the presentation would have had to have been made).

The Search function on the Russian State Library website

For scholars or armchair enthusiasts who do not speak Russian, this can be a limit to the accessibility of the site.  Let’s just say this is something that might make Krug think. One of the first things we were taught in LIBR 500 was that you must ask yourself: who will be visiting my site?  This is evidently something that was overlooked in the creation of the translated site.

However, the navigability is straight-forward and easy to use. Visitors can navigate using both the side navigational bar, or the “breadcrumb trail” at the top of the page when users begin to delve further into the site.  Krug would be happy; he doesn’t have to think to be able to effectively and quickly skim through the pages. The architecture of the site “makes sense” and is relatively easy to learn and use, regardless of what language you are using.

Apart from the Russian that was never translated, the Russian State Library gets two thumbs up from me!