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Is my site any good?


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#1 ruby

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 03:14 PM

Hello all you phpfreaks, I am new to this site and know very little about websites, code or PHP. I would be interested in any comments that anyone would like to make regarding my website, the more the merrier.

www.documenttower.co.uk

It's always better to have another persepctive on things as it is easy to miss obvious mistakes and overlook possible areas that could be improved. Your feedback can only help to make my site better, thank you in advance of your comments.

Ruby :)



#2 AndyB

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 03:20 PM

I notice that the site claims to have been designed by www.creativecogs.co.uk.  If that's you, then a critique is in order. If someone else designed it, it's not really fair to ask for a critique here.
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#3 ruby

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 03:27 PM

I have checked with Creative Cogs and they said it's ok for me to ask for a critique on this site as both companies are working together. I know nothing about websites, they use me for proofing in terms of grammar, spelling, sales, finance and procedures and I used them to create my site, we have an ongoing arrangement.

If it's a problem I can ask them to submit the request directly.

Thank you.

:-[ Ruby

#4 Ricklord

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 03:31 PM

lol Ruby...

Yes its fine for people to comment. As i am continuing to learn new things its a good idea to get input from other people.

Yes tables were used  :o i didnt know of CSS then.

Rick
Creative Cogs

#5 AndyB

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 03:39 PM

'Any good' is highly subjective.  If the site generates a large volume of business it's 'good'.

As for the design ... the flash is irritating, distracting, and serves no obvious purpose ("Look Ma, I know flash").  The layout in uninspired - almost as if someone was trying to emulate a page made with frames. The typography is uninspired.

FYI - the reason I asked about 'ownership' is that we don't want a client posting a design as his/her own and then using our opinions as a tool for the client to beat up on the designer.
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#6 ruby

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 03:53 PM

I know what you mean about typography being being uninspired but what would you suggest as an alternative? I like arial because it is a recognised standard for people with a variety of disabilities, I have been led to believe it is the accepted font.

I fully understand your comment on "beating up designers" I realise that some people would do this as a means of getting designers to change their sites without having to pay for it, as we are both still learning it appeared to be a valid method of getting feedback I apologise if I have caused you or any other phpfreaks any concerns.

I have not had much trafic going to my site and obviously this is frustrating for both me and the designer.
I don't understand SEO's and can't afford this as an option, do you or any of the phpfreaks have any suggestions?

Many thanks
Ruby  :)

#7 ober

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 04:02 PM

Ok... let's see... where to begin:

1) Your header image is kind of jagged and the moving background isn't really fluid.  It's very choppy.  Nice idea... bad implementation.

2) All the other graphics (down the left side) are very canned and boring.  It looks like they came directly out of some cheesy 90's pamphlet.  Try for an updated look with the pics and consider linking them as well.  The links are nice, but people like to click on pictures too.  It might not hurt to put the wording right in the graphic too.

3) Font.  Just a personal preference, but Arial isn't very appealing to read.  Try sans-serif or Tahoma.

4) Layout.  A few things: your content area could use a little more left and right padding, your nav could be a little less image based and still be effective, and it wouldn't hurt to throw some different content in the left panel between pages... maybe even make it random.  

5) Design.  Move the CSS outside of the actual page (use a reference link or import it), drop the table design, and don't forget to validate!

Hope that helps.

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#8 ruby

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 04:14 PM

Ober,

thank you for your reply, I will get Rick to play around with the text choices you suggested.
I'm sure he will be busy over the next couple of days looking at the other points you raised.

If any one has any comments they wish to make please don't keep it to yourself, all feedback is good feedback.

Many thanks Ruby.

#9 AndyB

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 05:31 PM

Arial .. a recognised standard for people with a variety of disabilities


I've spent lots of time developing sites to cope with variously-abled users, and I've never come across any reference to Arial being a recognized standard.  If you have a technical reference to that, would you please post it?

Sans-serif fonts (fonts with serifs) are used widely on the web because they "look good" when compared with the serif defaults like Times that most browsers use.  Oddly enough, serif fonts are easier to read since the serifs lead the eye across the words.  The problem is actually bad implementation of typography, not poor font choices.  Whatever font you choose, you need to be sure that it is available (or an equivalent default is available) to all users.  Verdana is a font specifically designed for display on a monitor, whereas many other common fonts are print fonts that have been adapted for electronic use.  That said, choose a font set that everyone can see (verdana, arial, helvetica, sans-serif will be found on all platforms, all O/S).

If making your site more 'accessible' to visitors with disabilities is your goal - and it certainly ought to be for all of us - then don't fix the font size with CSS. Learn about em sizes that allow the visitor to decide how large the text should be so as to work for them (after all, that's who the site is for, isn't it).

If more accessibility is what you want, then move towards designs that use sensible, semantic mark-up with tables used ONLY for tabular data, not layout.  Done well, that provides a site that is at least as good as a 'table' layout and makes sense to any user with a screen reader, i.e. visually impaired users (and makes the site faster to load and easier to maintain/modify).

There's a great deal of reliable information 'out there' on designing for ALL users, but it takes a serious time investment and lots of practice on the part of the designer to actually produce an accessible site. It is, however, absolutely time well spent.
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#10 pixy

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 05:34 PM

I don't like the thick borders on your tables, and I agree with everything that has been posted so far.

This is a .44 Caliber Loveletter straight through my heart.

Tabulas + Threadless + Hire Me!


#11 steviewdr

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 06:26 PM

I didnt have to any investigating to realise its done by creative cogs. - The flash header, and aliased (jagged text).

Some small improvements would greatly increase the look and feel of this website ->
Redo the top banner. The Lever Arch folders image is jagged. The text is jagged - the skyscraper is jagged. I would also slow down the movement of the clouds.

Change the font to verdana or some other nice font, and also increase it a shade - also maybe a small bit of line spacing.

Style the links in the left area.

Nice idea as Ober said.

-steve

#12 ruby

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 07:44 PM

Thank you all for your replies, it does make you look at your site in a different way.

Font - I worked for an educational charity for over 6 years, learning disability. We were frequently inspected by OFSTED (Office for Standards in Education) and before this, the LSC (Learning + Skills Council).

At one of our sister colleges during an OFSTED inspection they commented on the use of font and marked the College down for not using arial. From then on all the colleges in the charity used arial, minimum size 12. I suppose if an inspector had a preference for this font then his/her preference affected the way we produced all our documents and the College Website!

On the positive side I believe it is vital that everyone is aware of disability and how sites can be made better in terms of accessibility for people with a disability.

Q1) Is verdana a better alternative to arial and is this within the recognised standards for disability?

Q2) Is there too much text, I think there is but I want to get my message across and demonstrate that I know what I'm talking about?

Q3) "any good" I know is subjective, but isn't that what we do when we go shopping for example look at the goods or images (even the ones out of a cheesey 90's pamphlet), I appreciated this because originally I thought the pictures looked professional, now I realise they look dated. I would appreciate it if any one could give me links to sites they consider to be "good" so that I can see what types of images I should be using.

Many thanks for all your comments, please keep them coming.
Ruby






#13 ober

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 07:52 PM

You can check the Resources thread at the top of this board for some good links, but I always use www.sxc.hu for a good picture resource.

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#14 AndyB

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Posted 02 August 2006 - 08:09 PM

Accessibility and Arial - I think your OFSTED inspector was either mistaken or their comments misinterpreted. Verdana is a sans-serif font that is more legible in electronic documents than arial - having been designed for web use not print.  The important things about text are size and contrast.

There are real accessibility sites available for your research.  Some of the ones I use are:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/ (the standards)
http://accessify.com/ - good advice
http://www.nils.org.au/ais/ have a free accessibility (and validation) checker that sits right in the toolbar using IE - check anything, anytime, so there are no more excuses.
http://www.alistapart.com - find their discussions on accessibility for tons of good advice
... to name but a few. Read it and do it yourself.

Use the automated accessibility checkers to make a start on testing your sites (they're all linked from the accessibility toolbar I mention above).

And your own national association for the blind will certainly have good accessibility advice or links available.

Image resources? Ober's mentionned everybody's favourite )Stock XChng), another fine one, albeit smaller, is www.morguefile.com which has high quality free images as well.
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#15 ruby

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Posted 03 August 2006 - 08:46 AM

Thank you for all your comments to my original question.

The feedback I have received has given me so much to think about, I am already on a steep learning curve, I obviously have more to learn.

Keep your comments coming, I want to learn as much as I can.

Ruby








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