Do not forget Branding in Web Design

Introduction

HomepageSeek.com is a search engine and directory service that caters to smaller websites. Unfortunately, no rx this website is in dire need of help. Any service offered has the potential to succeed, try and in this case, the presentation is less-than-acceptable and puts a huge damper on prospective success.

Form

Though HomepageSeek does have the name of the website consistently shown at the top of each page, this is in no way a brand – or even a logo for that matter. (fig. 1) In my opinion, HomepageSeek should invest in a logo – one that is professionally designed, that they can grow with. Presentation is of the utmost importance and with the lack of identity (a logo or brand) the idea being presented is one of poor quality and lack of self-respect.

The design of this website is just as good as the brand, and that’s not saying much. For any type of search engine interface or directory, there must be a level of professionalism involved. This professionalism comes from a design scheme, color combinations, and tasteful graphics – none of which appear on this website.

I would like to see, in addition to a proper element of identity, directory listings contained in the body on a white background with a color scheme appropriated by the identity and logo. The yellow and red color scheme that is in existence now is difficult to read, not to mention the fact that most links are presented in all caps, which makes it even more difficult to interpret. (fig. 2) The search element should be contained in an area, separate from the logo – as this is what most users will be utilizing. The alternate navigation contained in the “What would you like to do?” dropdown should be located conveniently at the top or bottom of the page and transformed into text links.

As it stands now, this website has no form – a two column design is barely evident, however, enhancing the separation would make a huge difference. With the addition of professional-grade graphics to replace the animated gifs, the interface could easily rival that of the competition. Furthermore, utilizing CSS for color and font allocation would save time and energy on updates and additions.

On another note, I would like to see the “recently added” links as part of a right-hand menu with some design element drawing attention to them, followed by the “smart shopping links”.

Function

Though it is easy to navigate through the directory, there is no real navigation. The links present at the bottom of the page seem arbitrarily placed, (fig. 3) and the dropdown at the top would serve better as text links in a space dedicated primarily to those options. The “Hot Spots” should also have more attention directed toward them, as they are user “special interest” tools. (fig. 4) I would also like to see the “Hot Spots” occupy a section devoted to it alone.

I do like the idea of the easy to use directory, but without a proper page design, I am reminded of MLM (multi-level marketing) internet pages that lead a user into a sea of ads, pop-ups and more pages without giving any direction.

As for advertising and promotion, there are no methods exhibited here. I would like to see more emphasis and calls to action on URL additions. These calls to action should be placed above the fold, aesthetically pleasing and attention drawing in design.

I do see many advertisements from outside sources in typical ad format, or text links, however, more attention should be given to HomepageSeek and its services than to outside companies.

Conclusion

This website needs a great deal of help all around. I would suggest starting with a proper identity and researching the competition in order to gain a perspective on what is acceptable throughout the web in terms of design and advertising. From there, I would re-analyze the current website and bring in more form, contrast, and overall aesthetics.

In my opinion, the service offered is unique and has the potential to make HomepageSeek an asset to many users, however, without the presentation this service will not be taken seriously.

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