Australian Oxfam Website – Colourful and friendly

Introduction

Oxfam.Org.AU the Australian website of Oxfam International is a well designed and up to date information portal combining the many services and activities across Asia and Indigenous Australia, to overcome poverty and injustice. OXFAM stands for OXford Committee for FAMine Relief founded in England in 1942.

Form

The site displays a simplistic design using soft greens with 2 or three shades variations. The design and logo are reproduced from the parent organization Oxfam.org, since it is the Australian branch. The logo is white on green, very symbolic, could resemble two hands holding food or something similar. Since this is an aid organization I did not expect grand design, and truely the minimalistic approach works well and reflects the core values of the organization – to help, and not to waste resources.

The bright colours and full smiles of the children in the main photograph reflect the objective of Oxfam, to touch people in need, and warm their souls, to light up their world. There are more images of Oxfam volunteers on site at one of the many aid projects in Asia.

The horizontal top navigation bar is followed by the feature article with the focal image and then a four column design to list current projects and future events such as the Sydney TrailWalker. Follow the link and you come to a separate fresh and attractive promotional website for the walk. It’s good to find high quality deep links backed by a wealth of information on your site. Follow another link and you get to the non-feature simple information pages containing topbar, 2 columns, left navigation, right the body with a head image then the text. The opener image helps well to break up the text flood that follows. However the following text is again broken up well with frequent subheaders in shiny light green font.

Design is nice, easy on the eyes, I would only change a few minor points:

1. The font seems to crumble a bit on my screen, even though I use a high end 1024 screen, it may be the result of a too ambitious css stylesheet scheme. It is just not very sharp.
2. Cramping the site into 780 px wide container may work for smaller screen resolutions, but with more flat screens around that use 1280 and higher, the site will look very narrow on those screens. I would either bring the fixed size up to 980 px or have it flexible adjusting up to 1100 px even.

The site holds a vast amount of information (in access of 500 pages, that’s were my sitemap crawler stopped). The pages are well catalogued, structured and navigatable. For example the first button ‘Programs’ leads to various maps and submaps, then the body of each progam in detail. As maintained through the whole site, head images help to break up lots of text and paragraphs. Other main content is ‘Campaigns’, ‘Donate’ and ‘Get Active’, just the sort of pages I am looking for when visiting a charity website.

Follow the ‘Donate Now’ link and reach an online payment gateway that accepts credit card payments. That’s convenient. My advise would be to make the ‘Donate Now’ button more prominent on the home page. Loading times are good since the content is optimised graphics, CSS colour, text and some images.

Function

4 tiered, well designed navigation structure makes it easy to find anything you need, from topbar horizontal navigation bar, (1) to left hand sub navigation menu (2), then sub-sub navigation in the head image (3) to links spread over the body text and subimages (4).

The News page is my only point of concern – it is overwhelming and confusing. Use of that larger shiny green subheader font would help the structure there.

There are lots of ‘Calls to Action’, such as ‘Make a Donation’, ‘Buy Fairtrade Coffee’, ‘Sponsor a Team’. Calls to action are one of the most thought after ingredient in online marketing.

Any website optimsation strategy needs to direct traffic onto pages that are not just plain text and information, but contain calls to do something, either buy a product, book a consultation or like here, ‘Sponsor a Team’. The copy writing team at Oxfam appears to be well aware of this. Offer information and aim at getting a result.

Conclusion

Overall we are looking at one of the better charity websites I have seen. We learn about the many facetes of charity business, have many online opportunities to get involved, and the visual experience invites you to extent your stay for more than just page one or two. If you are looking at getting involved fighting injustice and poverty, this may become your favourite portal. It certainly has for me.


Sitecritic.net award

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fig 1. Sydney TrailWalker

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fig 2. Content presentation

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fig 3. Asian Region OXFAM Groups

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fig 4. Navigation 4 tiered

Search Engine Optimization Website Review

Introduction

MyConsulting is a Search Engine Optimisation company that offers high search engine ranking service which can lead to investment returns of 15x. They also have a free competitors keywords analysis.

Form

The objective of this review is not about the effectiveness of their service (because we haven’t tried it yet?), but rather, how well the website communicates as a whole.

With a name like MyConsulting, I expected to see a professional corporate website and I wasn’t disappointed. With orange and grey colours (and a small amount of other colours) on a white background it does look professional and matches the logo well. The logo itself is of an acceptable design standard and can be easily imagined on letterheads and buildings.

The home page is a two column layout with navigation, testimonials and a free keyword report on the left and main content (with an ad) in the right column. As a SEO company, it is good to include SEO rankings for MyConsulting under the main text and contact details. It’s also a good idea to have the contact form on the main page too, as the main text isn’t too long and the contact details are hidden below first view so that people can get interested before they committed. The arrow bullets added a touch of originality, as did the phone graphic at the top. The “post it note” at the top right is also a nice touch.

A few suggestions would be to:

* Make the main paragraph a lighter grey to soften the bolded text.

* Try not to overuse the same word, eg in the “Guaranteed” paragraph the word “guarantee” is used 3 times. May be that is for seo purpose but it makes the sentence less professional.

* The navigation menu is simple and looks abit boring. Perhaps an orange background or something else could make it more appealing.

Most of the pages are static and well-named which again is for seo purposes. The internal pages look neat and tidy and while different, used a consistent design style with the exception of the blog and forum pages. The forum looks quite good and maintains the concept OK but the blog page doesn’t have the same neatness about it – and there are no blogs, which doesn’t help credibility (perhaps it is new?). I don’t think blogs help corporate sites much though, as it’s unlikely to contain anything more interesting than what is usually found on the site. To make a huge internet splash, do a wacky YouTube movie and post it at YouTube with the logo and a link!

I’m not sure if people really go for testimonials on websites as too many hard sell websites already use them. Testimonials might be totally truthful, but maybe keeping these subtle might help believability. It’s just a personal opinion.

Function

The seo company certainly offers many free search engine optimization tools for website optimization and internet marketing. Free services often help to retain customers. From Google Page Rank checker, Link Popularity Check, Meta Tags Generator, HTML Optimizer to Backlink Checker, anyone can use them to get some stats for their website quickly. The only problem is that these services are not unique (ie from iwebtools) and are probably widely available. If would be best to come up with something unique but this is probably not a big issue.

A navigational menu is on the top left side and works well. There are also links down the bottom of the page and there are many surplus as only some of them are functional and as the main menu contains text links, there’s no need to provide the less important ones. Personally, I would certainly recommend removing these. Even if the words are being used to maximise SEO, they could be more subtly woven into the web content. Again, the way the whole website is linked might be due to website optimisation reasons… so the author will make the final decision.

Loading time is pretty good as the entire website contains more text than images (with the exception of the website development page).

The SEO Program Traffonaut has an interesting name and details exactly what services are offered. Beware of too many bullet points though – why not use the orange arrows which work so well on the home page?

While I didn’t go for the testimonials in the left column on the home page, I quite liked the appearance of the Website Testimonials page where square graphics make the comments more believable. The real clincher is the Google links provided which backed up what was said, although some of them might need updating.

Free Competitor Keywords Analysis page had some good examples of what you get for your money and explained the service well. Softening the bolded text could help this page further but otherwise it was nice to visit.

Conclusion

MyConsulting is quite a professional and internet marketing corporate website that shouldn’t have much trouble with credibility if the testimonials are updated and are more subtle on the main page. Search engines loves text but a seo newbie may not. I feel that there is a need to tame down on many repeated keywords, boring paragraphs and to inject more user friendly graphics…. From experience, too many texts and jargons often scare people away… but again, we understand that there are pros and cons from the seo point of view.

The content, while business-like, is helpful to read and useful in promoting the company’s search engine optimisation services. A few items need to be rethought (like the links at the bottom of the page and the blog) but otherwise MyConsulting is a website that should work for its owners.

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fig 1. Testimonial Squares

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fig 2. Surplus links at the bottom of the page

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fig 3. Blog page

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fig 4. Forum page

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fig 5. Traffonaut page – too many squares!

All You Ever Wanted To Know About Drugs

Introduction

Drug3K is a website with prescription drug information for consumers, including a description, image, dosage, storage, precautions and side effects.

Form

The Drug3K logo contains the right concepts – a medicinal symbol, the text of “Drug3K” and a tagline which is acceptable and useful. The logo is OK but is a bit fragmented because the Drug3K text is in black and doesn’t blend in with the blue elements. I also felt that the centre aligned text didn’t look aesthetic and if all the text was left aligned and the “prescription drug information for consumers” was put on one line below the Drug3K text, it would line up to the graphic a bit easier and also look a bit better. Maybe the graphic could contain some black too, in order to combine the colours?

The Drug3K home page looks like a serious and informative page but lacks a bit in corporate colouring. The layout is a two column one, with the left main column containing tabs that link to extensive lists where you can hunt down the drug you are looking for. The right column has a Babel Fish translator, which I thought was a nifty idea. The blue and black colouring on the page loosely matches the logo but the blue is not the same blue and this would need to match to give it a more professional look. The red “visited” link colour would also need to be the same red as the pill image at the top. Try checking out http://www.free-webmaster-tools.com/colorpicker.htm to find web colours to use.

White backgrounds are pretty commonplace on websites and it’s a good idea to put some colour into it. Why not try using the blue colour from the logo as a background colour, while the two columns stay white? This will make it a bit more exciting but keep the readability factor.

I quite liked the Online Drug Encyclopaedia logo and felt that putting yellow into other page design elements could help improve the corporate look also.Overall the layout is very good and works well in conveying a lot of information. The “Large Text” button down the bottom of the page is a great idea – I’d even move this under the Babel Fish so that people can use it straight away.

The design is simple, neat and just needs that extra appeal with colours to make it look more professional and more unique.

Function

There are a lot of links on the Drug3K home page but since the navigational links are in all the usual and correct places I didn’t get lost. All links seemed to work too, as did the search box. The only link that should be removed is the hotspot on the logo on the main page, which links to the main page again (remove this from the home page only).

Coding is html with CSS and some javascript. Some keywords need to be put in to generate more traffic. Loading time is medium to fast, probably due to having a lot of code and text on the pages.

Conclusion

Drug3K is a good concept as it’s based on useful content that is free to access and also has a place for ratings and reviews. The lack of advertising is quite refreshing and the website functions reasonably well. A bit of design work is needed to get the look of it right and some other work might be needed to get the traffic flowing, but Drug3K should prove to be a good site to visit (especially if your chemist prescribes those antibiotics with long names and no description of what they do). A good effort!

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fig 1. Individual drug information

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fig 2. This logo looks pretty good

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fig 3. This logo needs work

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fig 4. Larger text will help readability