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Sharp Web Design

Sat, May 12, 2007

Technology | Author:

www.sharpsma.com

Introduction

Sharp Microelectrics is the world’s leader in technology, devices and solutions that reduce parts count, board size and costs. Their website is professional and aims to make searching for information as simple as possible for the viewer.

Form
On the main page is an excellent static jpg that looks very modern with a picture of a hand touching buttons (with a blurred person in the background) some floating products and the logo, all encased within a turquoise background. This large jpg is a good example of excellent graphic design and is very attractive as well as being effective for viewers. Not only does it convey the correct message (that Sharp Microelectronics is a modern and innovative company) but it also loads fairly quickly and is able to carry the page as a stand alone graphic, rather than needing lots of graphics to make it more.

The Sharp logo has been around for ages and is well known as a corporate brand. As a logo it is a fine example of how a simple textual logo can easily be recognised on an international scale. Luckily for Sharp they are a well known company, otherwise the logo would have trouble indicating what the company is selling – but it is working on this website and adds a nice dash of colour to an otherwise white page.

There are not many other graphics and the site mostly relies on the main page to look beautiful and attract customers while the rest of the pages are textual and informative. The Press Releases and New Products tables have pleasing matching colours in the top cells which help deliver the banner to the viewer. I was pleased to see that the only advertising on the site is for Sharp’s own products and it is kept to a minimum.

I noticed a small irregularity (see the Optoelectonics page for an example) where the Flash LEDs grey description table had a bit sticking out of the left side. Other grey tables also have this problem.

The “Home”, “About Us” and “Jobs” which “float” to the right of the main menu are somewhat off balance and might do better if they were made into subtle coloured buttons as part of the main menu (there could be a space put in between the main menu items and this group of three).

The colours used for most pages are black text on a white background with highlights of red, blue and grey. While the red and black match the Sharp logo, the black text combined with the blue text make the website look a bit ordinary. It might help make the website more techno looking to have the black text dark grey (to soften it a little) and the blue text to be a matching dark turquoise of the banner or some similar colour matched colour, rather than the very boring and standard electric blue. On some pages the banners were grey and these could be more attractive if they followed through the colour theme of the first page – like the tables on the first page. The white background, while most helpful for legibility, is a little boring also – maybe a slight tint of colour or pattern could help the overall appearance?

Function

Navigation for the viewer takes place from a simple top menu with main PNG buttons and a further left side menu for detail. This works very well, especially as the top button that is in use is highlighted in a different colour. In case the browser can’t see these buttons there is additional text links for the main menu on the bottom of the page (always recommended if using graphics for menu buttons, so that all viewers can navigate). If the web designer really wanted to maximise the loading time, it might be possible to make the top menu buttons into textual links, removing the rollovers and the duplicates down the bottom of the page.

On the left menu the items have different coloured arrows – black for the main category and clear for subcategories. I found this system to be helpful, as well as the rollover text links and the fact the the current page is highlighted with a bold text link in a different colour.

On each page is a heading of the main category which clarified where the viewer landed. Further menus and subcategories appeared in the content section, but only related to relevant page information. A lot of information is contained within the site but it was very easy to navigate and there appear to be no issues with navigation.

The loading time for the website is good and there is only a slight slowness because the pages are Active Server Pages. Code consists of a liberal use of css, javascript and some html with ActiveX pages, allowing for the latest database information (so no out-of-date products) and fast loading menus. The search field on the top right is very useful in online product searching, is appropriate for the Sharp website and also functions OK.

I felt that the Sharp website, while complex, appeared simple and clear for the viewer, and was geared towards making the text legible and the navigation easy to follow. The fonts used are visible (although the menu font could be a little small for older viewers and it doesn’t resize with text size adjustment in the browser). Font sizes are a bit of a dilemma for web designers at the moment, as they ponder if they should allow text resizing or not in order to preserve the aesthetic design of the site.

The technology used to create the website is appropriate and has left off useless bells and whistles (such as Flash intros etc) which would have made the site bulky and harder to surf.

Layout is consistent throughout, with the menus always in the same place and the content in the middle. It was refreshing to see a two-column layout, which maximises the viewer focus to content as I find a lot of three-column layouts can detract from the message of the website. The idea of having the logo on the top left and the search field on the top right is becoming a standard layout in effective web design, as so many viewers are recognising this particular layout. Down the bottom of the page is the Privacy Policy etc, which is also in the usual place.

Conclusion

Overall, the Sharp Microelectronics website is a professional and no-nonsense website that allows viewers to search the product categories (and other information) easily. My main issue is that the colours are a little too simple and not unique enough to carry through the exciting originality of the main graphic on the home page.

(Second Reviewer)

Sharpsma.com has a very typical layout and design for a corporate website. The source code shows a possibly outdated content management system which produces tonnes of search engine unfriendly HTML. The url isn’t fantastic at all. A typical url in the site could be something like this:

http://www.sharpsma.com/Page.aspx/ americas/en/49b2b664-958c-40ed-bf13-f7ebc3a8265f/ System_Solutions/

I think there are better ways to name the pages.

The title of the index page reads: “Product Groups”. What a nice way to name the index page! There are also tonnes of javascript before any real content appears. Try running a spider script and it will show that alot of work is needed in terms of search engine optimisation. I have to agree with the main reviewer that the site is quite functional but I would expect more and professional graphics from a company like “Sharp”. Many pages are very wordy (fig 8.) as well which makes the site boring. Yes, and what are those jagged borders doing around the lady in the advert? (see fig 5.)

(Third Reviewer)

Surprisingly, a famous company like sharp only has an alexa ranking of 700k. Should we be expecting a better ranking? Perhaps the ceo just want the website to sit there and do nothing… or maybe web presence isn’t as important for sharp. If they want to be more successful, I think they need to learn from other big MNCs like LG and Nokia. There is always something in these websites that makes people want to revisit the site. Its all about marketing and I believe internet forms a big part of it today. The marketing factor is very lacking in sharp’s website. Overall, the website is very robotic, no updates and no human touch. It looks like a dead rat and I agree with the second reviewer that it is boring…

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fig 1. (i) The Sharp Logo (ii) Floating Menu Elements (iii) Main Menu Buttons (iv) Left Menu Arrows

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fig 2. Error on the grey description table

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fig 3. Table colours that match the attractive main graphic

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fig 4. Each page is different, yet follows the same format

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fig 5. Appropriate Advertising

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fig 6. Duplicate Text Menu & Privacy Policy at bottom of the page

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fig 7. Some text and graphics need more breathing space

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fig 8. Many pages are too wordy

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