Enjoy Your Life in Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

berksandbucks is an online lifestyle magazine about everything in berkshire and buckinghamshire. The portal has many great articles on food, events, properties and competitions – You name it, you get it. The website is a subsite of greatbritishlife.co.uk and share the same layout and colors.


fig1. blurry logo?

upon first visit, I was struck by the logo on the top left corner. The words "Buckinghamshire Life" on the logo was hard to read. The homepage looked really busy with a lot of events happening. I could not control myself not to look at the pictures in the content area which seemed to be interesting.

The general layout looked quite standard and professional. I couldn’t find any broken links and all urls were nicely structured. Adverts were nicely placed on the top, right column and footer. The cms seemed to be doing its job well quite well.

Although the navigation menu was well structured, the content was quite overwhelming. The top navigation was 2-tier and there was also the left menu to look at. Where should I start? I thought there were some redundant sections. For example, there was a "blogs" and "forum" in every top category like property, style, family, magazine…etc and also a "community blog" and a "community forum" on the left menu. How about removing blogs and forum from the top menu?


fig 2. About us in a weird category

I wanted to find out what the website was about but couldn’t find "about us". I eventually found it under magazine. I thought that was a weird category to be in as I expected it to be a category by itself. Putting it in the footer might be a better idea?


fig 3. Is she Mary, Tessa or Sara?

The about us page was informational. The was a blurry picture of a lady (Is she the owner?) which was great but I didn’t have a clue who she might be until I moused over a "get in touch" link. I eventually saw a link "click here to view the full list of contacts" which led me to nowhere as well. A bit more information or clearer picture of the team behind the website would be great.


fig 4. Language translation

I particularly liked the "translate" feature although I don’t believe there are any real good translators out there. The translation was slow (probably using a third party system). Nevertheless, it was a good effort to be multi-lingual.


fig 5. firebug showed that top flash banner didn’t stop loading

It looked like the top banner was keeping the page busy by constantly downloading new flash images. It might be interesting to keep the user busy with changing top banner – an interesting concept but I was not sure I liked that.


fig6. Nice detail article page

Most of the articles were all laid out nicely. I was impressed at the quality of images with the main content. The Bershire Food and Drink category looked really cool and interesting. Looking at the rating and comments, there didn’t seem to be a lot of user participation. This might be another area for the author to look at – how to engage their users in their website activities? How about running a competition that get people to use the website?

Conclusion

Berkshire and Buckinghamshire Life is a website very rich in content. Most images looked great and all content seemed to be carefully edited. This is all well and good but I still feel that it is too overwhelming for most people and that the content could be better categorised to improve usability.

The editors might want to sit down and re-plan the site navigational structure, possibly streamlining the number categories in the website. I would start looking at some popular news portal bbc.co.uk and wn.com as a start.

Search Engine Optimisation Company In UK

Upon visiting the website, sale I was greeted with a nice header image and a clear message in front of me – “Search Engine Optimisation, sovaldi Increase your sales, Revenue and ROI” and “Get higher Search Engine Rankings”. Although the homepage was still full of text, I got the message of what the website was conveying. Users would know immediately if they were in the right site or not. I also liked the “Call Us” text at the header. It showed that they were willing to talk to their customers.


fig1. Nice image to break text monotony

Like a typical seo website, all the pages were full of text. The challenge is to have enough text for seo purposes and yet not make the site boring. I thought SEOladder did quite well in this aspect. The colours and images blended in well with the content. The injection of nice graphics in appropriate places broke the monotony of the text. The placing of the lady image in the “about” section is a great example (fig 1). As a designer, I would still love the website to be more exciting with more images and lesser text. Oh yes, bigger font size would also be a good idea.

To make the website more interesting, the author might consider rotating the header image for different sections of the website. I would love to see some real pictures of the the people behind the scenes. So perhaps having some pictures of the authors under “About Us” or “Contact Us” might be a good idea?


fig 2. Newsletter subscription box could be sidewide?

The right column seemed cool with the Facebook and Twitter images. However, in the homepage, there were some empty spacing towards the footer of the page. Perhaps the newsletter subscription box could be on the right column just below to submit button instead of putting it near the footer in the homepage. The newsletter box could also be placed sidewide.

The Twitter link actually linked to the buyblogreviews account. This account could be a sister site to SEOladder but I still thought it is a good idea to have a separate Twitter account for branding purpose.

Conclusion

The website is a good place to visit if you are looking for seo in london. As a search engine optimisation company, SEOladder is definitely heading in the right direction of not over “seoing” the site. To improve the website credibility, I would suggest the author to proof read all the content again and perhaps insert some testimonials if any.

FaceFlow – A Web-Based Video Website

Upon entering the site, sales I questioned exactly what it was. The graphics and introduction text indicated that it had something to do with video, patient but did not offer enough information above the fold as to why I would want to use it since I already use a video conferencing program.

The look and feel is a clean web2.0 layout, there however, there is no navigation menu, making it difficult to pinpoint exactly what is being offered. The main focus area flips through three informational bits that tell you that you can use FaceFlow for video conferencing, group chat and to meet people. However, it does not state clearly enough that you do not have to download any software to use the program. This would be nice to know immediately.

Fig1: Focus Area - Needs a clearer message

The graphics in the focal area are of a decent quality, but to me, they are not clear enough to sell a user into signing up for the service. I would totally redesign this focal area, stating clearly that FaceFlow is a free web-based video conferencing service that requires no software download. I would design a single graphic that details this versus the three screens they currently rotate.

Also within the focus area, there is a link for a faceflow youtube video and the quality is good, but that still does not give enough information about what it is or why I would want to use it. The video immediately states that “FaceFlow is easy to use, sign up for free”. This is not what I expect in an introduction video. I instead expected, more details about what it is, why I should use it, how I can use it, THEN show me the sign up process.

Scrolling down the page offers some resolve to the question of what the capabilities of the program are but again does not offer enough information about what FaceFlow IS, or why I would want to use it.

The focus is obviously on getting a user to sign up for the service, but I personally do not just sign up for things that I am unsure of. It would need to be useful to me, and I just do not get that message within the main page of the site. As mentioned above, I feel that the main page content needs to be rethought out.

Fig2: "Why" is finally answered

I decided to click on the link under the instant messaging heading and was taken to a page that offered more details on the IM portion of their service. At the top of the page, I finally got what I was looking for on the front page – text that states why I would want to use FaceFlow. However, past that I was stuck… again, the lack of navigation was an issue. There was also a features link at the footer but that seems to come in a bit late.

Fig3: Navigation with SEO (not users) in mind

There is no Home button, so I usually click on a logo to go home, but it was not click-able. Scrolling to the bottom offers a navigation menu (mind you that it is different than the one offered on the home page) that did get me back to the home page, but did NOT offer me any clear idea of navigating around the site for information. The menu instead is created for SEO purposes and not for users.

I did click from link to link within the text areas of each page so I was able to view all of the pages in the site, but an average user would not think to do this. They would be confused and just leave. Also noted in my perusing the pages, the fonts used in the sign up buttons change three times, the visited link are the standard purple and do not fit within the scheme of the design, and the spacing of the footer navigation needs some attention – should be laid out as it is on the home page throughout the site.

Conclusion
I would guess that faceflow could be a good product to connect with friends using only a browser, but cannot sense that this would be a useful business tool.  However, with some attention to the details of their message mentioned in this review, FaceFlow could rebrand itself as an application that speaks to businesses as well as average users.