Quick-Step : Focusing on contacts

A special effect disturbs the usability of information delivery.

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The feature

Quick-Step, Belgium-based flooring manufacturer, provides an odd visual set of press officer profiles.

Quick-Step presents all but two of its 39 country and regional websites on a common template that includes a link to a standalone Press Zone microsite. The link launches the home page, where the main content is a welcome message set below a photo panel. The left side of the panel shows overlapping head-and-shoulders portraits of a man and a woman only the rear one of which – the man – is in sharp focus. To the right are contact details for one individual, again the man. These give – in English – name, telephone and fax numbers, a personalised e-mail address, regions covered and languages spoken. On mouseover of the out-of-focus portrait, the focus on it sharpens (and softens on the other portrait) and the contact details change.

The microsite also has a ‘contact’ page, listed in the left-hand navigation, where a conventional separated presentation is made of each press officer’s portrait and details.

The takeaway

To say that the initial effect of the Quick-Step Press Zone home page on newly arriving visitors is disorientating would be a polite way of avoiding descriptions such as weird and spooking. It manages to subvert what would normally be recommended practice – including portraits with details of named press officers – into something to be avoided. In simulating a narrow depth of field to focus on the rear-most of the two press officers pictured, the image not only risks giving the impression of being technically flawed but the picture created is of one person staring out disturbingly at the viewer over the shoulder of the other.

The blurring of the foreground image is no real clue to the interactive option to ‘refocus’ it and the associated contact details. The reliance on the curiosity and/or intuition of the viewer to discover the mouseover switch is poor usability on a feature that should aim to deliver quick direct access to contact information. The conventional ‘contact’ page shows how that can be done. For sure it looks a little functional, but gimmicky special effects are inappropriate here.http://media.quick-step.com/

First published 15 July, 2014
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