USDA’s MyPlate – Home page

I have mostly a good first impression of the website touting MyPlate, the USDA’s replacement for the food pyramid. It wasn’t entirely clear that the items on the plate were clickable — probably because the graphic treatment of the plate resembles a button, and my brain said to me, “Oh, that’s a plate, how cute” not “Oh, that’s a button, let me click it.” The name “ChooseMyPlate” also discouraged me from clicking on the food items, since the name calls attention to the plate itself, not anything that might be on it.


Look up a food
Learn about food groups
Get a personalized Plan
Learn healthy eating tips
Get weight loss information
Plan a healthy menu
Analyze my diet
Ask a question

via USDA’s MyPlate – Home page.

When I followed a link from Google into an interior page, I had to think about how to get to the home page with the cool plate icon.

My first instinct — clicking the icon in the upper left (the standard location for “home” buttons) took me not to the home, but rather to the USDA home (a page with the inexplicably long URL “,” which caused me to click the icon again to make sure that I really was at the home page for “” ) .

Back at, right under the USDA home link, there’s an attractive graphic showing tomatoes and so forth; it looks pretty, but it’s not clickable. That puts a lot of dead space between the link to the USDA home page and the two “home” links (part of horizontal menus that are right-justified).

Yes, the word “home” does appear in two different horizontal menus (one graphic, one text), but the unhelpful visual information was competing for my attention.

While I can understand the bureaucratic thinking that went into the decision to give the agency home page primacy in the upper left, which then necessitated moving the local home page and the local horizontal navigation over the right, that thinking led to poor web design.

A lot of effort went into designing that plate icon, but the site design doesn’t take advantage of it as a navigational aid.

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