Men’s jewellery and unique cufflinks

Introduction

Homme Rock is an online store selling men’s jewellery and accessories for men, from 18 carat gold and titanium rings to designer and unique cufflinks. If you want to buy some gifts for men, this is a good place to shop.

Form

The overall impression I got when I first entered the website was good. The main banner/logo is mostly grey to match the rest of the greys on the main page and while I’d normally say this colour scheme is boring, I feel that the web designer deliberately did this in order to make the items for sale more interesting, as they are in their fabulous own colours and appear more noticeable. With main links on the left, bestselling items on the right and featured products down the middle of the page, Homme Rock’s layout is very user-friendly and what you’d expect to see. The shopping cart in yellow at the top adds a tiny splash of additional colour to the page, as do the credit cards and links down the bottom.

The logo for Homme Rock is quite basic and simple, but I felt this was suitable for the product being sold. Men don’t want girly logos (my personal opinion) and this one is no exception – it certainly gives the impression of being suave, stylish and manly with its basic white text on grey background. It is classified as a unique (if somewhat simplistic) logo because the spacing between the text gives it a difference. I particularly liked the tagline “for the adornment of man” but while I’m not sure if men will like it, I know their partners will!

Function

Clicking on the main links on the left take you where you need to go and the navigation is quite user-friendly. You can shop by designer, material or price. A javascript menu pops up if you mouse over any of the menu. The main links to the product range categories are traditional links with a hover underline. The search button appears to function OK and at all times, you can see where you are by the traditional small arrow tree breadcrumb at the top of the page. I was a bit worried to click on some of the product images and details and receive “this webpage cannot be displayed”, however, given that the site blocked IP addresses from , this might be part of that problem.

Homme Rock is structured like an online store should be and is easy to navigate. With transparent navigation, there is no need for additional sitemaps and “contact us” plus additional information is easily accessed on the bottom of each page. Loading times are a bit slow however and it took me quite long to get to the Contact Us page, which is worrying when there are no images on it. It could be the code, server load or network traffic. Many online stores have this problem and lots of customers choose to simply live with it, however there are some stores out there that have managed to make their pages load faster (the examples I find have asp, jsp css or html codes). Loading times like this could be a problem if people want to browse before they buy or are just having a quick look. It’s a real issue because these are the people who might buy from the competition.

Conclusion

This website has simplistic but effective design and good navigation. The content is good, ie it sells men’s bangles, rings, men’s jewellery, unique cufflinks, designer cufflinks, slides and many cool stuffs. The main colors of the website matches with the color of the products. However, the site can be boring at times after long hours of navigation. Injecting interesting content or extra graphics could perhaps break the monotony…

Sales is probably the most important factor for an online store. Instead of working on the look and feel, the company might also want to focus on some marketing strategies such as discounts, buy one get one free…etc.

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fig 1. Manly & Suave Logo

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fig 2. A touch of colour in an otherwise grey scheme

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fig 3. Credit cards also add colour

Free Ringtones

Introduction

That Frog, health eh? Brrrrr Brrrrummmm Brumm Brrr… I’m feeling the rage rising already… When I had my old phone with a simple buzz, salve I cringed at the sound of novelty ringtones, treat and vowed never to have one. Fast forward a year, and every time my phone rings, it pipes out one of my favourite tracks – ah, what a hypocrite I’ve become!

Form and Function

So now I’ve finally succumbed to the world of musical ringtones, sites such as http://ringtones.msnemotions.org suddenly have an appeal – much easier than my first attempts of clipping parts of my mp3 collection.

Unlike a number of ringtones sites, you can download the clips for free, which is a fantastic bonus. I suppose that the giant MSN can afford to be a little generous, and I expect that the advertising revenue more than covers their costs – and there’s plenty of third-party advertising on the site (but that’s the price you pay for ‘free’ things). This isn’t too much of an issue, unless there is an advert with sound – every so often I would get an ad with a mosquito which would then be buzzing away while I tried to listen to the tracks. Now, because I’m based in the UK, I couldn’t make use of the ‘Download Ringtone to your Phone’ feature – it automatically redirects you to another site that ‘better matches your Geographic Location’.

However, if you hit the ‘Click to Listen’ button, you can download the clip to your computer, and then easily transfer it to your phone. The site’s layout is as generic as you can get, but I like the fact that you can start downloading free Ringtones right from the first page and you can usually find something that you like from the Latest Ringtones section. Rating the tracks is easy through just a click, so seeing and influencing a track’s popularity is really simple. The Request Stuff option has a great deal of potential, but currently this is a dead link. Searching for tracks by keyword is very simple, but many users prefer to browse through the lists of what’s available. There are options to list by artists and various genres, but bizarrely, although the results are listed in alphabetical order, you have to browse by page number, which makes it very tricky to get to, say, the M’s. Themes is a misleading title – Soundtrack or Theme tunes would make more sense to users.

Conclusion

The content isn’t expansive, but there are enough choices to appeal to most tastes, and it’s a quick and easy way to get some good quality fre Ringtones onto your phone, and although there are alot of advertisements, I didn’t come across too many popups, etc. This is always going to be the payoff for free things, and it’s a sacrifice most are happy to make. However, I think that MSN should be more careful about the content of this advertising – clearly, the ringtones, smileys, etc. is a predominantly (young) teenager phenomenon, and it’s far too easy to click on links to inappropriate content from this page. Overall, I would not say that the design is great but I would still like to give a thumbs up to http://ringtones.msnemotions.org for offering 100% Ringtones to download with no charge.

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Free hip hop ringtones

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Some of the smiley ads look cool

Malaysian Charities in the Pink

Introduction

HATI is a small charitable web portal, shop run by volunteers, hospital providing directory listings for charities, help community projects, etc. in Malaysia. The site contains information relating to Malaysia, and, as such, is probably not of great interest to those outside, with the exception, perhaps, of international corporate sponsors.

Form and Function

The organisation’s pink logo is certainly striking enough with easy pinkish navigation at the top of every page. Personally, I think this colour tends to clash with the orange menu links at the side, although these become the same lucid hue on rollover.

The first questions which occurred to me were, ‘What does HATI stand for? Is it an acronym, or a Malaysian word, perhaps?’ I’m afraid I still don’t know the answer, since the information appears to be nowhere on the site.

The site is quick to load – with the notable exception of the photographs in the ‘Gallery’ section, which are excruciatingly slow. Similarly, navigation is fairly straightforward, although the designer has neglected to include a ‘Home’ button on the navigation bar, which sometimes means backtracking through numerous pages. The homepage has a link, amongst others, to ‘Least Viewed’ – I think I can understand what the designer was trying to do, in the sense that ‘Least Viewed’ might mean ‘Most Deserving’ – but it effectively comes across as ‘Most Unpopular’. In addition, the ‘View Our Sponsors’ link just links straight back to the homepage itself.

In terms of design, the homepage is dominated by the vivid navigation bar, and a photograph, which, although appropriate enough in subject matter, is low resolution and poor quality. There are also wide expanses of redundant white space, some of which it appears that the designer has filled with a (currently empty) news and events area, and a (seemingly redundant) calendar. The text on the homepage is poorly formatted, and a contact email address appears twice, but is not a hotlink in either case. The design looks OK for a portal site but I guess more information should be provided to fill up the empty spaces.

The inner pages are fairly simple – HTML textual information interspersed with links – although links for websites and email addresses are missing in some of the content sections. Many pages have long text and abit boring at times. Some of the English is conspicuously written by a non-native speaker (understandably), and there are some errors in vocabulary, spelling and capitalisation. The footer also contains unnecessary long description.

Conclusion

Overall, HATI has the look and feel of exactly what it is – a small charitable site, run by volunteers – and while it would be unfair to be overly critical of such a noble venture, the fact that the HATI Forum has only ever received two postings, both over six months old, speaks volumes for what visitors think. Perhaps abit more marketing can bring in more traffic to the site.

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An empty about us page