Accessibility and Engagement in a Finishing and Coating Website

Accessibility and Engagement in a Finishing and Coating Website
Robotic paint line at an automotive finishing facility.

Products Finishing

A website that my discourse community frequently visits is Products Finishing. The website provides stories and guidance on topics specific to the finishing and coating industry. There is a large target audience for the website which addresses many of the niche disciplines within the finishing industry such as powder coating and electroplating. Topics also cover multiple sectors like automotive and aerospace and a range of organizational levels, from company owners to shop floor personnel.

Providing Extra Information Promotes Engagement

Products Finishing utilizes a journalistic writing style with a serious and semi-formal tone. Apart from terms specific to the industry, language is mostly simple and concise which makes presented information easy to comprehend. The article Robots, AI and Superb BMW Surfaces promotes clarity and information accessibility across sectors by describing the paint coating inspection technique of deflectometry in terms that are easier to understand. Proving additional explanation helps to keep readers engaged with the content.

Here they are using deflectometry to assess the surface. Black and white striped patterns are projected on the vehicle and then cameras are used to scan and detect any flaws on the reflective paintwork. Simply: if there is a defect, it affects the striped pattern.

More technically dense articles such as Reduced Ion Electroless Nickel to Meet a Sustainable Future cater to specific audiences and exhibit a scientific research style of writing, including citations and a references section. These types of articles would be of interest to a smaller portion of the target audience.

Familiar Elements in Web Design

On the homepage of Product Finishing, the reader's eye naturally gravitates to the large center photo associated with the featured article. With suggested articles positioned to the right of the featured article, standard left to right reading direction is encouraged. The site also features a traditional header with menu and search box. The header is fixed which lends to ease of navigation throughout a visitor's interaction with the site. Article titles are adequately descriptive of the contents so readers do not have to spend time reading pieces that may not be relevant. The color scheme consists of shades of blue on a white background, with black and blue fonts. The number of photos and advertisements diminishes the visual impact of the color scheme. Overall, the site design is too busy, which could detract from its usefulness.

The homepage of Products Finishing

Eye-Tracking for Optimal Layout

The concept of eye-tracking in web design says that readers often look at website content in an F-Pattern. The continuous column of advertisements down the right side of the page creates an undesirable backwards F-Pattern leading to some confusion on where the reader should look. While expandable menus are typically found on the left side of a page, the one on Products Finishing is at the extreme right side and is so small that it is barely visible. Its location and size mean that visitors are unlikely to use this menu which contains important links.

The small expandable menu link to the far right.

Inefficient Use of Space

Some areas of white space are inappropriate with respect to adjacent elements. In the photo below, there is white space in the middle of the section that should contain an article link. Not all article thumbnails contribute to the content and are smaller than the right rail advertisements. White space and elements should be efficiently used to direct readers to important content and maintain engagement.

White space indicates a missing article. Distractingly large advertisements.

Tags and Screen Readers

The text section below has a dense and untidy appearance which could be difficult to read by a visually impaired person. Inspection of the source code shows the use of H3 header tags and p tags in this section that enable the use of a screen reader.

Crowded areas can be difficult to read.

H3 and p tags allow screen readers to translate page contents to audio.

Non-Accessible Fonts

On the homepage, article titles use a condensed and bold font that strains the eyes. The narrow column on the right leads to further visual crowding. It is recommended to use sans serif fonts at least 16px in size to make reading easier for those with visual impairments. Products Finishing uses size 13px font. Visitors who find reading a site's content difficult are less likely to engage with a site.

Condensed fonts make reading difficult.

Ashley Williamson

Ashley Williamson

I am working toward a Master of Business in Professional Leadership at MGA and have a Bachelor of Chemistry from Georgia Southern Univ. I work as a chemist with a concentration in electroplating.