UKAPW home page elements

The FIA home page looks modern. But to me it looks like several sites with loosely linked content have been thrown together, like a malformed jigsaw – see the spaces at the bottom right? The FIA home page has:

  1. Login
  2. Contact us
  3. Search
  4. "Fluffy" tabs: engagement, delivery etc
  5. Latest news from the profession
  6. Latest news from external sites (very odd)
  7. Events
  8. Large events calendar (hover for events)
  9. Call for speakers
  10. Join our communities
  11. eShop
  12. Health and care conference
  13. Publication of the month
  14. What are an actuary's core attributes?
  15. Explore the world of risk
  16. Miscellaneous graphical links:
    • Looking for a new job
    • Find an actuary / actuarial form
    • Meet some of our members
    • Join us on Facebook
  17. Footer: quick links

If this is about quick links rather than a site map why put them "below the fold" at the bottom?

What's wrong with the UKAPW home page?

The UKAPW home page lacks purpose and focus. It is unhelpful. Many UKAPW home page items serve little purpose. Our functionality page looks at what should be on a home page.

The FIA's home page: a malformed jigsaw

The "jigsaw" comment relates to the shape of the page shown below (distorted to fit the print). It is impossible to grasp quickly what the home page offers, the UKAPW's purpose or the page (and site) structure.

FIA - not so nice

Undeserving home page elements

Many items do not merit a place on the home page. Poor quality content includes:
  • Item 4: These graphics are self-congratulatory, conveying nothing of value.
  • Item 6: Non-actuarial news from external sites. Ditch it; we can get this elsewhere.
  • Items 7 and 12: Event-related, but in different places. Can we combine these?
  • Item 8: The event calendar is hardly easy to use, and awful if Javascript is disabled.
  • Items 9 and 10: The purpose of and link between these items is unclear.
  • Items 9 and 13: 9 is a bigger "call to action" than 13 but they are equally prominent.
  • Items 14 and 15: Who were these aimed at?

Missing functionality

The reader can see from the first column of the myFIA home page that I believe various elements of functionality should be accessible directly from the home page. Such functionality includes:
  • Administration: Clearly labelled access to the user's details, members' handbook etc.
  • Contact: All the methods of contacting the Profession.
  • CPD: What the scheme is, what events give you credit and how to complete CPD records.
  • Events: What events are available, by category, and an events calendar.
  • Members' handbook: Immediate access, with simple and detailed searches available.
  • Actuarial and other papers: Split by category: CMI, Sessional and SIAS.
  • Research: The library (internal and external), reading lists by subject, the CMI.
  • Standards and regulation: The actuaries' code, complaints, disciplinary procedures.

Some of these items are on the home page, though most are not. Those which are present tend to be scattered across the page, so that the user has to scan the page. Life should be easier.

Improving the UKAPW home page

The following recommendations come from a comparison to the the Society of Actuaries site:
  • Get a simple 3-column design
  • Embed core functionality into the first column (say)
  • Consider extending this to all pages
  • Give the message conveyed by the slideshow / tabs more substance
  • Ditch the "design for design's sake", especially over-use of images
  • In particular, reduce the number of images, giving simple text links more weight
  • Make the links more readable, shortening their text
  • Apply these last two ideas to the eShop, events and publication of the month
  • Consider dropping the external news

These principles might also be applied outside the home page.

Conclusion

The home page is crying out for rationalisation and focus. It fails to state the identity and purpose of the Actuarial Profession. The purpose of and the audience for the site is unclear, or at least not stated. The rebranding and images can't hide the evident weaknesses.

A friend stated: "The 'We engage with our members' box is classic puff and I simply don't care what the links go to. Engagement, Delivery, Inspiration - if that's the sort of writing I can expect I'm not going there.