By Rachel Totten Keith
Rikarkatts.com is a website for Ri-Karr Katts Cattery, a Norwegian Forest cat breeding establishment based out of Fort Worth, TX. The intended audience is someone looking to purchase a pedigreed Norwegian Forest kitten, although initially the purpose of the website is unclear. The home site is a very long page, and at first, it appears merely an informational site by a lady paying homage to her cats, with cat pictures, stats, and awards. Finally, at the bottom of the page it states they are a breeder and that their cats “are neg. FeLV, FIV, GSD IV.” They assume their audience is familiar with these acronyms, which I am not. As a prospective buyer, I would be frustrated because I would have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the lengthy page before I found out if the site sold cats, and then I would have to look up these abbreviations and hope my internet search reveals the correct terms.
The site does a good job of listing its awards and pedigrees right away on the first page, establishing somewhat of an authority on the topic of Norwegian Forest Cats. But, again, the purpose of the site is not immediately clear. Are they selling the cats? Informing us of their boarding facility? Or is this an information-only site?
Once you click on the black cat at the bottom of the first page, the link takes you to the second page where most of the site’s message and information is maintained. The second page has pictures of the cattery’s mollies or queens (female cats) and toms (male cats), as well as links to contracting information, Paypal, and other informational pages. The site actually has some great information but it is poorly organized and it is frequently unclear what information is beyond each hyperlink. The hyperlink titles are sporadically located and are also poor indicators of what the next page contains.
The style is appropriate for a website. Sentences and paragraphs are short although confusing due to grammatical and terminology errors. For example, the site refers to the next column over as “the page across from this one.” The tone is inconsistent and alternates between an informal and conversational tone and an informal professional one. For example, in one instance it uses “What’s the Latest Mews?” (sic) for a hyperlink title or “[h]ere’s my silly girl sitting in a very small box,” and “[s]orry, but that is their rule, not mine.” Then, the site will also use more formal phrases such as, “[i]t is important that you understand the material found therein,” which seems condescending. It feels like the site is saying, I can be cutesy and informal with you, but you need to do this if you want one of my cats. This is not the best tone to take if you are trying to sell a very average-looking cat for $1500.00.
As far the website itself, the fanciful name “www.rikarkatts.com” is not conducive for search engines. “Rikar” is a made-up name combining two first names and “katts” is an unfamiliar misspelling of cats. There is no index or page menu to help the user navigate through the site and the browser back-button often has to be used to return to the site’s central page (which isn’t even the home page). There is not even a site map or any roll-over icons to help distinguish what is a button or hyperlink and what is simply a picture or emphasized word. The site does appear to be regularly updated as litters are born and awards are won. The over-all appearance is sloppy and confusing. The title font takes up half a screen and on the first page alone, there are at least 8 fonts, with significant size differences making it awkward to read. There is no consistent theme and the images can be very blurry and are unprofessional. I even had to click on a black-cat icon to enter the site, which could be unnerving for someone that is superstitious—weird.
I would advise that they reduce the size of their header and logo and stick to two fonts. I also recommend that they try using a storyboard to plan their site layout. The use of page links that are located in a menu at the top of each page will also help users navigate the site. The use of a consistent formality of language and font will help clarify the site’s message. These recommendations will convey professionalism and attentiveness that translates to a company that cares also about its cats and customers.
Ri-Karr Katts Cattery. rikarkatts.com. n.p., 24 September 2015. Web. 3 October 2015. <http://www.rikarkatts.com>.
P.S. If you need a good example of a poorly done website, Google search “fort worth cattery.” Virtually all results are poor examples of web sites. RTK