Third – deconstruction

Dogo News is a news site for children. Unlike any other site designed for children, dogonews.com is very shy in its visual appearance but strong in content. My “deconstruction” circles on the question why to leave the content in such a rigid environment?

  1. About the title and the logo: Dogo Argentino is the name of type of dog developed in Argentina. Knowing this, the dog-house image as logo as well as the subtitle: “Fodder for young minds” make totally sense. As opposed to that, this is what the founders put in the About: “DOGOnews is an online newspaper and web guide for children. “DOGO” (not Do-Go), means young or small in Swahili.”
  2. The title, the subtitle and the logo would benefit from a less overwhelming background that frames the page.
  3. You either read the content as a visitor, sign in as a teacher or student. Very clear, very straightforward, and thus a little boring. The folders look as if they were backpack folders. Easy navigation as a quid pro quo colored letters on white background.
  4. Opposite the two options, on the left one can choose between the four sub-pages. Same thing: clear, which is as good as lacks the “overcolored” design usually made for kids. As much as it may try to set a trend, it may also be less inviting for kids first entering the site.
  5. Layout is very clear and reminds “adult” news sites. Small picture on the left, title in bigger blue fonts that is linkable. Author, date and abstract in black, and one can click again on blue to read more. The white background of the inside part of the page contrast the colorful margins.
  6. Margins are colored concentric stripes. They are given little “message” and  decorative function. The space could have been better used.
  7. Again very clear logos for comments, sharing, and there is a widget to download the code to put in on one’s website or log. It gives a great tool for those who understand it and does not bother those who do not know what it is. Can a minor operate a website?
  8. On the right column first comes search, then topics. No play with the actual meaning of the words, there are no logos either. Simply Current Events, Science, Sports, Social studies, etc. The only “movement” is that the titles are differently colored.
  9. Latest comments feature avatars. Great idea to have this little drawings instead of making parents involved in uploading photos of their children. Also safer.
  10. The site is internet safe only as long as the reader does not click on the linked youtube illustrations. From there nothing keeps anyone from continuing in the youtube site.
  11. No ads. Great. The site is about news and nothing more.
  12. The only place products are recommended is the book review page. It is written by readers and it features the elements of a commercial web site: stars mark the popularity of the book, “Add to My Books” button reminds Amazon, reader is given page numbers, ISBN number, and publication date. Again, lacks any sign of need for extravaganza, which is good: the page is easily scanable and teaches how commercial sites work. 
  13. What I liked the most is that under maps the very same news from the main page appear as placed on a Google map. Excellent visualization of the idea of world news. Yet it is not design, the placement of the boxes for the news follow the geography of the Globe and not a preconceived idea how to lead the readers’ eyes.

Dogonews.com is great because it takes children seriously, believes that beyond the coloring “young minds” can find interest in words. But the words on the site appear as if they were digitalized news clips. The site could have been given more dynamics and yet retain its excellence in content providing.

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  1. I have never heard of this website, but it looks interesting and full of great information for kids, parents, and teachers. I completely agree with you that the site could’ve been a little less rigid in it’s layout and still retained it’s personality. In fact, it could’ve been a little more interactive without sacrificing its simplicity of use for the younger audience. After all, kids sometimes end up being “technical support” for their parents. As for your question about minors running a website…as long as they can pay the fees, I don’t see anything stopping them.

    I actually do like its background because it’s different, but you’re right the logo does get lost in it. The colors throughout the site and the avatars leave no doubt that it’s intended for children — oy, it would’ve been weird if it had been an adult-driven site! And the search by tags is fun, especially in 3-D. (Did you see that? That reminds me of what Christopher was trying to describe last week.)

    The book review page is awesome, and has one featured book at the top. I wonder why they don’t feature news of the day or something like that on the homepage instead of just landing on a list of stories? Maybe a welcome blurb about the site or something? It might make a better starting point for people who’ve never seen the site.

    Overall, it has decent usability, but could be improve. I enjoyed seeing this site for the first time. Thank you for introducing it to me. I’ve already got a few people in mind to whom I’m going to recommend it.

    • I am glad the site got another enthusiastic reader. And that you will be the friend who brings another friend…. I think it is really great that kids are taken seriously. And there is some truth to it that I failed to underline the positive aspects of the design….

  2. What an interesting site to review! I greatly appreciate your analysis of the end user and how the developers were attempting to connect with their younger audience. Your point about the site not containing enough dynamic content raises a question for me. What would make this site more dynamic in your opinion? Flash or something else? I was thinking that including a gaming section might really be interesting. Thanks for this great blog!

    • You are right pointing out that I might have sounded too general by saying the site is not dynamic enough. I meant that the visuals are way too neutral, they are not more than functional: convey the message in its literary sense, and nothing more. I do not feel the need of logos, or a pictogram, but the fonts and the buttons could have more game into them. Could trigger more mental response. But not to do so means that the operators are confident, and based on the content, they have every right to be so.
      Thanks for the comment!

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