Legg Mason : Taking its time

A timeline consumes too much viewing time.

click to view

The feature

Legg Mason, a US-based global asset management company, makes the timeline of its 110-year history an overly time-consuming viewing experience. The About Us section of Legg Mason's website invites visitors to “explore the rich history of our firm” by following a link within the company profile Overview to a Legg Mason Timeline. The timeline launches in a letterbox-sized popup and consists of a carousel of 18 image-panels covering the years 1899 to 2009. Panels are ordered chronologically and display one at a time with no milestones menu of featured dates. The opening panel is 1899 and the default display overlays the image with an almost opaque text box. Users have the option to click to ‘hide text’; on subsequent images the option changes to ‘read text’. They can page through the panels one by one using direction arrows at the left (back) and right (forward) of the panels.

The takeaway

While many companies use timeline features to illustrate and present their corporate history, the quality of the content and presentation can vary greatly. Legg Mason blends use of historical photographs and logos with informative caption-length text to provide a generally informative dash through the milestones of its development. However, although the limited depth of the feature is perfectly justifiable, the ponderous mechanics of its presentation work against its effectiveness as a browsable brief history and mask the quality of the content. Time-consuming and pedestrian means of navigation risk many of the individual panels going to waste, with users unable to jump to selected dates and restricted to paging through the panels one by one in sequence. The text boxes, meanwhile, feel over-intrusive, clunky and out-dated, with the lack of initial headline/caption other than the date doing little to engage curiosity or provide a ‘faster-track’ alternative browse. A more dynamic and flexible approach (the use of a key dates jump menu, for example) would give users greater freedom to browse and quickly access the parts that interest them.

First published 02 October, 2012
< Back to Tips