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    Posted May 5, 2014 by
    WWaymire
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario

    Three local directory sites offering the best user interfaces.

     
    A local directory site can be a powerful tool for finding information specific to a user’s needs and can become one of the most-used websites or apps on a person’s smartphone or computer.

    Three of the most common Canadian directory sites are 411.ca, goldbook.ca, and areaconnect.ca. Because these sites do essentially the same thing – find addresses and information on businesses and people – little things like usability and user interface (UI for short) become extremely important in the race to garner yet more users.

    I’ll examine each website’s user interface in an attempt to determine the best, most user-friendly UI available to consumers.

    Goldbook.ca

    Goldbook.ca’s homepage is moderately uncluttered with a nice big “information entry” field that draws the eye and doesn’t require much thought about what to do next. My search term was a bookstore I had visited numerous times in Calgary, AB and when I plugged in the store name, I was informed that the site was unable to find results matching my search.

    Now I know this place exists so I ventured back to the home page and noticed the small print above the search field was set to a default of ‘business category’. I had to click on ‘business name’ before once again searching – and this time finding – my favorite bookstore.

    The results page featured the bookstore’s address, phone number, and a map marking its location. A good bit of information provided but more would have been nice.

    Areaconnet.ca

    When areaconnect.ca’s homepage flashed onto our screen, I immediately thought, “What is this?” I approached this exercise as if I had obtained the store name from a friend but forgotten where it was located. As such, the areaconnect.ca homepage was completely unhelpful. I first had to click on a province and then on a city before I could search for my bookstore.

    When the actual search field came up, the screen was cluttered with other information –weather, stock quotes, horoscopes, and local info dominated the right side of the screen. This made it hard to determine exactly what I was supposed to next. When I finally found the field to type in, I also had to choose in which directory to search. The first, second, third, and fourth directories failed to find any results with the fifth finally yielding the information for my beloved bookstore. I didn’t get much further past that point because of the effort it took to find that little bit of information in the first place.

    411.ca

    411.ca’s homepage is clean and uncluttered – like Google’s homepage – with a large search field that defaults to business search (other search tabs included ‘Person’ and ‘Reverse’). The user interface was intuitive and required very little thought about what to do next. As an added bonus, 411.ca’s advertising was kept to a minimum, unlike other sites that are cluttered with ad after ad vying for your attention.

    After typing in the store’s name, a results page immediately popped up providing much the same information as the goldbook.ca results page – address, phone number, and map marking location. To my surprise and delight, 411.ca went even further and provided valuable information such as business hours, directions, and even parking details and handicap access. Now I wouldn’t have to call the store to find out how late they were open on Saturdays; the information was right there. I now knew how to get there from out of town and where to park when I arrived downtown.

    It was just the right amount of information – not too much and not too little – and all of it was formatted in a way that was easy to read and make use of. Overall it was a very powerful and user-friendly interface that makes it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for when you need it.

    Conveniently enough, 411.ca also recently launched a mobile app. With an intuitive and cleanly designed interface, using and navigating 411.ca’s app is quick and easy. It’s perfect for those on the go and in the populated world of apps, it’s definitely worth checking out.

    Of the three local directory sites tested, 411.ca provided the best, most user-friendly user interface. It was easy to use and provided exactly the information I needed to find my way back to my favorite business. I would recommend 411.ca as your local directory site of choice.

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