1) To begin with, the assessment of the website’s readability needs to be made. While readability of any website can be measured mathematically today, namely by the use of various web tools and tests, it is also true that we can assess any website’s readability without any special tools. We just need to look at the level of vocabulary used, as well as sentences and paragraphs’ length. Complicated and advanced vocabulary and long, sophisticated sentences are not likely to provide sufficient readability. On the contrary, intermediate vocabulary and short, clear sentences are likely to appeal to the wide audience. Of course, everything depends on the audience. As for the website of the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education, its readability is quite controversial. Tags and headers are well readable and comprehensible for all readers including those who do not have a high school diploma. At the same, the contents of the articles published on the website is aimed at readers with proficient or advanced skills.
The language is quite formal and heavy. The vocabulary is rather scholarly and proficient, actually fit for a person with higher education. It gets even heavier as sentences grow longer and more elaborate so that it sometimes may be hard to grasp the main idea the author wanted this sentence to express. To illustrate, the sentence below is too long and full of unknown words hence hard to understand: “Her excellency General Supervisor on women sections at ministry Dr. Amal bint Jamil Fatani pointed in a press release that ministry is holding this forum building on the impetus of keenness to support Saudi woman at higher education institutions in ways that enable her develop her capacities at all academic and research domains as a key contributing member of the community.” (Ministry of Higher Education, 2013). It would be easier to read if written in the following way: “Her excellency General Supervisor on women sections at ministry Dr. Amal bint Jamil Fatani discussed the forum in a press release. She pointed out that the ministry holds this form because it is eager to support a Saudi woman who wants to get higher education. Specifically, Saudi women’s academic and research skills need to be developed. This is very important for a Saudi woman as a key member of the society who contributes a lot.” As it can be seen, one and the same idea is better read and easier understood if formulated in a simpler manner. Thus, the readability is quite limited and can be assessed as 3 within the 5-point scale.
2) The website offers a version in Arabic, too; it can be reached at http://www.mohe.gov.sa/ar/default.aspx. It is better to say that the Arabic version of this website offers a link to the English version and vice versa. Despite the fact there is no electronic translator, one may switch to the English version and read all what he or she needs there. Besides, the English version of the website also offers video news in Arabic (in Video Gallery). So in this respect the readability is 4 out of 5.
3) Visually handicapped people could have taken advantage of the website had there been an in-built scan reader for the blind. The visually impaired could have utilized the scanner (the one that works as NVDA, Apple’s Voice Over, ORCA, and Emacspeak, etc) by listening to what the synthetic voice says when the cursor hovers at it. However, the website does not offer such opportunity. Neither does it have a structured arrangement of audio files that could replace texts for people who have difficulty reading. For example, the Audio Gallery is empty and has not been updated since 2010. So, the blind would have no chance to navigate the site and take advantage of its information unless they have already installed some scan reader on their computer (so 0 points out of 5).
4) Customer orientation and email responsiveness are quite high. The Ministry of Education can be contacted through e-mail by the electronic addresses provided for each of its departments. For instance, Ministry of Higher Education Headquarters may be reached by email@example.com. Also, the Ministry can be contacted directly through Outlook services. In addition, it can be reached through Facebook. Importantly, in Facebook people may leave comments on particular news or events. This helps the Ministry of Education learn about the public opinion on the issue. Facebook allows sending messages directly to the Ministry’s page. It also allows finding people who share the same interests, for instance 8, 510 visitors liked the Ministry’s page on Facebook. By the way, the Facebook page is in Arabic, same as Twitter and YouTube (5 out 5).
5) This website does not use any commercials. This is a great advantage. Users do not get distracted by popping up windows and unexpected advertisements that are impossible to remove. This helps to concentrate and adds up to the website status as an official and credible e-source (5 out of 5).
6) The website generally does not require any fees in order to access its services online. However, if one needs to access the Apple’s iTunes store to buy some music, one can easily do it by clicking on the icon. Same about android applications. Some of them are free of charge, but others are not. They allow visitors to access the Ministry’s news and services through their mobile phones and to manage their data. The ones that you need to pay for are ezPDF Reader Multimedia, as well as Saudi-MOHE e-sevice v 2.0.; Cam Scanner, ASAEDI, TATWEERSDU, and others are those you need not to pay for.