The Knot has a blue color scheme and a home page jam packed with information. Flash is used to rotate out the main imagery for the site, which is most prominent, and of course, wedding themed. The global navigation across the top includes relevant topics. The page grid is layered in three sections; unless this is a distant and very abstract allusion to a wedding cake, it's not clear at all why the Knot would choose such a dull layout. The global navigation, home page links, My Knot Tools, pop up box, and advertising, all crammed on the home page, make for an overwhelming first impression.
Content areas consist of images and links also found within other parts of the site. From an information architecture point of view, much of this is redundant to the global and left hand side navigation. To the new user, it is too complex. I'm not sure where to start and I'm already confused as to how to start planning for my wedding.
To view most of the articles on the Knot, you must register. This is a useful tactic for boosting the company's database, but it's a bit intrusive for the casual browser who is not ready to open her life to tons of spam. After registering I was presented with a very long and daunting "to do" checklist.
The Knot also provides helpful tools. The Budgeter offers a list of pre-determined wedding fees within a number of different categories such as Ceremony and Attire. The program worked inconsistently, however, making it difficult to tailor without a lot of patience.
In registering I listed where I live and where the ceremony will be. However, this information does not carry through to other areas like Local Resources, missing an opportunity to make the process more efficient. The easiest and most enjoyable part of The Knot is the option to design your own wedding website for free, in the tools section.
Like the Knot, WeddingChannel advertises on its site. However, WeddingChannel's ad space runs only along the top of page. It's distracting, but consistent, so the user can easily discern what is content and what is paid advertising that will link elsewhere.
The two sites have very distinct identities. WeddingChannel has a more formal aesthetic and feels sophisticated, using a sans serif font for the identity. The Knot takes a more whimsical identity with a script font.
WeddingChannel home page is more simplified than the Knot. Here the grid is divided between a main content area and secondary right hand side links. One main image resides in the content part of the page—no Flash. Below the image is a search function, and within the content area there are links to different parts of the site; the category organization helps a user choose quite easily.
Like the Knot, WeddingChannel encourages one to register, and enables the bride-to-be to build her own website free of charge. Unlike the Knot, WeddingChannel retains the register information throughout other sections like Local Sites & Services, saving the user time.
WeddingChannel employs a step-by-step approach to leading users through the site, reducing much of the overwhelming onslaught of the Knot. Site layout is familiar and comfortable to use; navigation is clearly displayed along the top of the page and left hand side. This layout is used consistently throughout the site.
Both sites have the same approach to the wedding industry, conceptually and content wise. However, when it comes to usability, WeddingChannel is friendlier. Both are targeted to a conventional wedding (which ranges from $25,000 to $100,000). Those planning a unique wedding won't be helped here and instead will likely feel overwhelmed. It would be nice if either site allowed a user to customize content or features based on the kind of wedding desired; after all, it's our day.