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A Unique Taste Of Tuscany

Wed, May 30, 2007

Entertainment | Author:

www.ariannandfriends.com

Introduction

Tuscany Holidays is a website offering local tours, guides, cooks, chauffeurs, teachers, other “friends” and assistance in order to discover “off the beaten track” areas of Tuscany. It’s a great idea for a site and looks like it would be a really personal and delightful touring experience.

Form

Design is quirky, cute and interesting to a web audience. Well done to the designer in creating a unique and attractive website. There are a few pointers with the design which would make it even more attractive by simplifying some parts of the design that are a bit “busy”. The right menu contains links in boxes with a background behind them. By removing the background and making the boxes a solid border (not a dashed border) the menu will stand out more and make the main page look a lot neater. The flashing text for “Find Accommodation In Tuscany” was a bit annoying after some time spent on the site – maybe a different coloured box or text could highlight this better? No animation is needed to make Arianna & Friends look like a personalised and exciting website. The left menu bar with the text/graphic combinations is terrific and a great example of an exciting and aesthetic menu. One issue I would like to highlight though is the heavy header gif which is 26KB.

The three column layout on the home page becomes a two column layout on other pages, but since the right navigational menu stays consistent throughout, this is fine. The navigational text has drop shadows underneath it which can somewhat impair reading of the text, however, as it adds to the elegance of the design the drop shadows are acceptable. Colours are green, blue, brown and yellow and reflect an “earthy” and landscape theme. The white background is hardly noticed as the eye is drawn to the images and text in the layout. Fonts are readable and the bolded text, while frequent, is used effectively.

Function

Loading times are average, probably a bit slower because of the graphics, but viewers should be able to load the page easily enough. The navigational links work well and everything seems to be in order, with some text links at the bottom of the page like “Privacy Policy” etc. There are a lot of links but at all times the visitor is aware of where they are and where they can go. Coding is standard html with some javascript inserted. There are no CSS (cascading style sheets) used for the text and if this were to be used, it might speed up the loading time of the pages.

The Tuscan Accommodation section of the website is easy to follow and contains a useful map of the area with colour coded regions which is very much appreciated by viewers on travel websites. Selecting a region displays the top tourist farms, holiday houses and properties for a special holiday. I found this section to be very useful as it contained all the information for travel for the particular region, without the traveller having to work it out themselves (such as the time from airports, pricing, realistic looking photos, peak/off peak times and everything else you would want to know about the accommodation).

The Wine & Food Tours In Tuscany page is enough to whet anyone’s palate, with wine, olive oil, cheese, pasta and chocolate tasting tours that visit interesting places (such as a medieval castle) for reasonable prices. The Services & Activities page also has a lot of activities from horse riding to natural park treks.

Conclusion

Arianna & Friends is a unique website with fantastic content that made me want to pack my bags and go to Tuscany. With the use of CSS and slight graphic improvements, this website will appeal to anyone who enjoys fine food, personalised tours and local region exploring.

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fig 1. Some solid borders and no background image would make this menu even better

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fig 2. Attractive looking activities

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fig 3. Accommodation info page has links to detailed information

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fig 4. Graphically aesthetic navigational menu

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