Pittsburgh’s Citiparks always has something on their plate. From concerts, to art events, to sports events, and more, it’s surprising they have time to run a website at all!
The site is part of the larger City of Pittsburgh Website, which means it has a helpful translator in the top right-hand corner so any users can translate the page into English. This tool can help not only tourists, but also incoming, foreign residents, which makes it essential to the site’s accessibility goals.
However, the site did pick up 46 errors and 22 alerts on the WAVE test for accessibility. The main concerns were missing alternative text, linked images missing alternative text, and redundant links. These all affect users with assistive technology as they rely on alternative text and clear links to tell them where a link will take them so they don’t get confused or lost while trying to navigate the site.
Another issue is the lack of PDF warnings. On their Facility Rentals page, there is a list of links at the bottom of the page. They appear to be normal links to internal or external webpages, but in actuality, they open PDF documents. While the introduction to the list introduces the links as “documents,” there is nothing to let a user know that they are PDFs until the link has already been opened. Usually, to view PDFs, another application or plug-in has to be launched. This leads to problems for those using assistive technology like screen readers. And for mobile users, downloading PDFs without warning can drain data.
They do address this issue on some other pages. For example, on a page within the tennis section of the site, PDF links are labeled with a small PDF icon to alert users that the link is to a PDF instead of a webpage. Consistently carrying this feature throughout the website could do a lot of good.
On the subject of their tennis pages, it is also notable that one of their header images is grainy. It seems, going throughout the site, that they have a bit of trouble with header images. Some are too thin and this impacts the page’s layout of side navigation bars, which then changes drastically. Sometimes, the image is too large and the page gets stretched. It can even stretch the page so far that users need to horizontally scroll to view the full page.
Some of this has to do with building the website to be responsive to various browser widths. Overall, the site is fairly unresponsive. As you make the browser window smaller, the site does little to accommodate the size change. This is also evident on mobile devices. The site has no mobile version, so users must use a smaller version of the desktop site. This causes the font to be too small to be legible, requiring users to “pinch and zoom” to see the content.
One main downside of the site is how easy it is to get lost. Much like a poorly signed trail—which Citiparks should also want to avoid—one wrong turn can get you lost without a clue. The left and right side navigation bars change often, depending on what part of the site you’re on. So if there isn’t a visible link to the pages you were on before, you have to either backtrack or start over. If the site had a clearer, fixed navigation bar, it would be easier to explore and find what you need.
All of these links also lead to the site being slower and heavier. Its loadtime of 5.5-10.9 seconds and size of 3.6MB (a lot compared to the average 1.83MB) are most likely related to the hefty amount of links—over 200 to be exact. It could also be attributed to a need to optimize images, enable compression, and specify image dimensions—all useful ways to keep the same content, but take up less space.
Another quick way to improve the site would be to look into its code. We found 39 CSS errors and 69 HTML errors. With some careful maintenance, fixing these errors could help the site run more smoothly.
Overall, we’re impressed that Citiparks is able to cram so much valuable information into their site. It’s a great way to showcase all of the wonderful programs they’re involved with. Make sure you don’t miss their Black History Month Observance, “A History on Film: A Tribute to African American Contribution to Film,” or Valentines on Ice, where you can skate under the stars with your sweetheart. With Citiparks in charge, you’re always guaranteed an amazing time!