Accessible Website Design

Introduction

Website Accessible assist websites to meet website accessibility standards and offer new websites and website re-designs. My first impression of the website was quite ghastly as I find it astounding in modern web design that there is no actual “graphic design” work in the website, decease simply coding (ie, it looks like the most boring Joomla template you can find).

Form

While no doubt the author has thought well about such things as SEO, loading times and content, my interest was close to zero as the bare minimum of images and colour schemes make it look even less attractive than a get-rich-quick page. Then again, I guess you don’t need bells and whistles to get your website onto a PDA or mobile phone.

The first warning bells for the customer who wants design work done would be the lack of a distinctive logo. While it’s great to have ALL text on the website easily readable, you’d think a business advertising re-designs would pay some attention to having a memorable brand logotype.

Layout is quite acceptable and simple. I’d be quite sceptical about the design abilities of the person who created this website (although I’m not questioning their programming ability).

The navigation of Website Accessible is excellent – this is where the simplicity is useful – although I’d like to see better naming of the Policy page, which is more like a Business Objective or “Our Aim” page.

Fonts are very boring but this is not so much the author’s fault as a generic and ongoing web design problem (the lack of exciting fonts gets many designers annoyed). At least the font is a good size (web standards advocate reasonably sized fonts for older people).

I’d recommend putting some colour into the website, not just using white as a foreground and background colour. Create an exciting banner and create a logotype which compels people to look at the site. Personalise the site a bit by putting a photo of the business or the people or anything to make this site more interesting and unique.

Also, I think the “skip to content” link at the top should be deleted as it’s not very helpful.

Function

The content is reasonable and explains enough in a businesslike manner. The author explains what accessible website design means and why it is important. However, the impression I am getting is that an accessible website cannot be both accessible and exciting at the same time.

Since there are no pictures to display and nothing else to hold up the loading time, Website Accessible has a fast loading time. It meets web standards and would do well in SEO and reaching the audience intended, although hanging onto the audience might be another matter.

Coded with CSS, I was impressed by the “No WYSIWYG editors putting additional code or formatting in. Just hand coded to ensure the code is valid” statement, even though this could be said of 95% of quality websites out there. It’s not really a unique selling point. In my experience the customer doesn’t care about the how, only results.

Conclusion

I think Website Accessible need to think about what kind of business they want, as they are talented at creating accessible websites but seem to poor on appearance or personalised content. If they want to market the design/re-design they might be better off stating that they “improve communications”, “expose websites to the world” etc, as mentioning design/re-design implies a makeover of appearance as well as code and if it can confuse me it could confuse anyone!

If the intention was only to design websites for handheld devices or only to design for accessibility, not eye candy, Website Accessible has achieved that objective well enough.

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fig 1. This website needs some colour!

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fig 2. The logo is not eyecatching.

Fit Brains

Introduction

Brain exercise is a novel idea and Fit Brains by Vivity Labs, Inc. offers “Guilt Free Fun”, with some free brain games and “brain training” for people of all ages. You can get full access to the site upon the payment of a membership fee.

Form

The Fit Brains website has a modern design look – friendly, colourful and casual. There’s no corporate atmosphere here – which is what makes it an appealing site to visit. Although using lots of rounded corners and a trendy green, orange and blue colour combination is replicated by many sites across the web today, it is still rather effective as an advertising tool and certainly appeals to a broader audience.

The home page is well organised and text is separated in such a way as to keep the reader interested (small sections of text, good font size etc). The site uses a three column layout but with headers spanning two columns it appears as a two column layout.

The most attractive parts of the design include the special attention given to interesting looking banners, icons and thumbnails. Excellent illustration is very appealing to people who are tired of the “corporate” look.

The Fit Brains logo is a nice colour and matches the website. Appropriately, it attracts the eye as secondary information while the home banner grabs the eye first. It’s a nice logo but I feel on a business card it might be a bit awkward on it’s own. The logo image is a bit vague (if the logo was aiming to reflect the company purpose pictorially, it needs more work as the image doesn’t really communicate the message). I believe that this is a logo that needs the vivid illustration near it to survive but again, for the intention of getting the company’s name across on the website it is suitable enough.

Function

Fit Brains has a blog-style layout which has been designed well in CSS and javascript, possibly with another third party software (although I couldn’t see one in the code). It loads reasonably fast with clean code and should attract a fair audience. All the links work and I couldn’t pick any errors on a brief tour.

The games seem to be Flash or similar and have great sound effects. I think that Vivity Labs have done a rather good job with their website and it’s certainly a good advertising vehicle, along with the interesting idea.

Conclusion

Overall, Fit Brains is a pleasant website to look at, fast loading and with an interesting product behind it. The design of the elements in Fit Brains are the way of the future with an escapist appeal that make people feel cheerful to wander around the site. I feel that the logo image could use some more thought but it is not detracting from the website itself. Well done to Vivity Labs – we should all aspire to know our audience as well as they do!


sitecritic.net award

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fig 1. The Fit Brains logo

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fig 2. An example of appealing illustration

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fig 3. One of the free games

Parents – Send your kids to pbskids!

Introduction

PBS Kids has a huge selection of interactive kid’s games, showcasing TV characters that kids love. The website is designed in flash and is one of the best children website out there.

This is the second review for pbskids.org. Check out the kids section.

There’s so much to look at and play with on this site, kids will be kept busy for hours! With exciting graphics and interesting things to do, the kids don’t have to know the TV characters to enjoy themselves. A lot of work has gone into this website and it shows.

Form

The pages in PBS Kids seem to be simple and well laid out, with minimal (but important) information to focus on. These aspects are especially suitable for children’s websites, where the kids need to have clear choices about where to go in the site. The main activities mostly happen in the centre of the screen (where they should be) and the buttons, pictures and text are clickable and reactive. There is sound, so make sure you turn your speakers on to hear!

I was impressed with the interesting way the designers managed to use bright colours throughout the site, while keeping the central, interactive parts the main attraction – this is the hallmark of an experienced web designer or team of designers – design is all about communicating the message and these people have done it well. Backgrounds are exciting but well thought out and general site info that wouldn’t be interesting to kids is contained in subtle, out-of-the-way places, as it should be. Graphics are cute and attractive as well as loading quickly, and anyone who has worked on this site would be proud to put it on their resume.

I’d suggest that the age group targeted would be 4-11 year olds.

I encountered a Flash message on navigating from the main page to some of the character pages and although it was necessary, it was a bit boring compared to the rest of the site. Since it was left aligned and in a standard web font it didn’t really fit with what else was on there – maybe dressing this up while keeping it fast loading would help with consistency?

Function

The website is made of html pages with CSS coding (mandatory on a huge site like this), with javascript functions for the interactivity and in some cases, flash objects. Flash movies with sound and fast loading rollover gifs (javascript) make up the bulk of the games and interactive parts.

Navigation is quite simple due to the minimalist approach where pictures say more than words. I don’t think many kids would have trouble navigating on this website as the choices are pretty obvious. All navigation appears to work and goes to the right page. PBS Kids is a great example of how a huge children’s website should be built.

I really enjoyed the lack of obvious advertising in this website, as the only advertising at all seemed to be in the fact of playing with the TV cartoon characters. As a parent who often has to stop the kids from wanting to buy everything, websites like PBS Kids mean that the most amount of work required from a parent at a later stage would possibly be to tune in to the TV shows. At the same time, I guess PBS Kids has a website in the first place to attract people to their shows!

The games within the website are excellent and will hold kid’s attention. An example of the games contained include lots of printables, lots of scenarios with interactive play such as online cooking (you click on ingredients and the character cooks a meal), click and drag items, online books and much more. Lots of fun and some new stuff here as well.

Conclusion

PBS Kids is a great website for kids – I highly recommend a visit there as it is educational and interesting. The huge variety of things to do will keep kids busy for hours and the website is reasonably fast loading, so the kids can have some fun at their pace online. To the designers of this website – pull out the champagne and give yourselves a pat on the back – you have earned it!


Sitecritic.net award

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fig 1. Central focus area on page

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fig 2. The boring Flash message

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fig 3. Online cooking game

Harry Potter Web Magic

Introduction

The latest Harry Potter movie, The Order of the Phoenix, has it’s own website, which is an interesting online experience promoting the movie. This is one of the most well-designed Harry Porter website so far.

Form and Function

When first arriving at the website, your browser will probably ask for an add-on, but I suspect this is only necessary for those of you who need to view in a language other than English, because the Flash introduction worked OK without the add-on for me. The design of the introduction was very good, a basic middle Flash container with Warner Bros. website links up the top, an opportunity to skip the movie within the container, links to different language versions (these were greyed out due to the add-on I suspect), some red “alert” text and other bits such as a privacy policy etc. I liked the design of the Flash container with the magical looking border corners, but upon further inspection, I noticed that the 4 border corners were different in size and design to each other but this took a while to notice as the whole effect was pretty good – and design-wise the border corners couldn’t have been better. Pressing the Sound On/Off button worked on the main part of the website where there was background sound but not on the intro which was interesting but quite loud.

With lots of black, wood colouring, and olde fashioned textures, the site reminded me of the old Lord of the Rings site. The main website page had a two column layout, with Harry Potter website links on the left, the main viewing screen on the right and all the links needed for Warner Bros. website on the top and bottom. The left menu had some interesting CSS for the hover functions and also some nice looking hover down menus. Olde weathered wood textures abounded and with a default creepy image of Voldemort in all his horrible glory, the home page had an excellent appearance.

Clicking on the Marauder’s Map (top right) leads to some addictive and well presented games. I had some trouble opening the Pensieve link though, I believe the add-on might have been needed for this one. Some of the items require you to sign up to the website – these involve “joining Hogwarts” or downloading webmaster materials and so on. The content and depth of the site was quite good – lots of things to look at, lots of latest updates and info and lots of things for people of all ages to enjoy.

One slight error was found on the home page left menu where the “Marauder’s Map” link was missing an apostrophe and had a default font box instead. I suspect this is due to my browser not having the right webfont. And the blue text in the same menu needed to be just a hint darker so it could be read easier.

The navigation worked fine, all the links appeared linked. Some items didn’t load because I didn’t have the add-on, but you could download it rather easily (I just wanted to see what the add-on would be needed for). The Flash movies played fine and it looked like the site had been built by people who really knew their stuff.

Coding is a mix of html, ASPX, Flash, javascript and CSS. And I must say that while the code is a bit bulky, the loading time is quite reasonable when you consider how long the Flash intro is and the elaborate set up of all the different codes in unison. Loading time is medium to fast but varies depending on which part of the site you are loading.

It was interesting to see the amount of keywords and the long description inserted into the source code, a bit of an eye opener for someone like me who does a list of 30 keywords and a couple of sentences for the metatags normally. You can certainly see why they’d get so many visitors and you could also see that they wanted to promote the website intensely.

Conclusion

The Harry Potter Order of the Phoenix website is a website worth visiting for Harry Potter fans – I am thinking about going back and having some fun on it after completing this review! Outstanding looking design, swish graphics and very minor errors make for an interesting viewer experience and promotes the movie effortlessly. I do think that most people visiting the site would have either seen the movie or read the book but since Harry Potter is so popular there is sure to be no shortage of viewers.


Sitecritic.net award

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fig 1. The Marauder’s Map

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fig 2. Issues on the left menu

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fig 3. The Daily Prophet nes & updates

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fig 4. Triwizard Challenge page

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fig 5. One of the games

Dolls, Dollz & Dolly Parton

Introduction

Cartoon Dolls is a place where your favourite dolls come alive. There are lots of activities to do such as doll dress up, celebrity dress up, colouring pages, crafts etc. If you are a fan of dolls, you should visit the website.

Form

This site is loud, flashy and interesting to the audience for which it is intended (I suspect they are pre-pubescent girls) but not instantly appealing to adults. The home page has lots of small graphics on it and some small animated graphics (the small graphics mean smaller file sizes when combining a lot of them) and the overall colours are black and blue. It’s a bit girly in the graphics but not overly so with the colours and the site is laid out in a three column structure with lots to look at and read.

The graphics are original (created by Dollz and Doll Makers of the World) and the site is targeted well towards pre-pubescent/teenage girls, with things to do, lots to read and some flash and glitter. The three column structure is suitable for the amount of information contained and advertising is suitable for the content. Clicking on any page from the main page brings up pages with different coloured backgrounds, more graphics and the activities to do. As a website intended for adults, all of this would fail acceptable website design standards; since it is intended for youngsters it has the perfect combination of busy text/graphics and lots of different colours and backgrounds.

Function

I found the Doll Palace Navigator only came up on some of the pages. This means that although you can click the “back” button in your browser, navigation to pages might a bit confusing. The colours of blue and black might not be appealing to pre-pubescent girls, although black and blue add to the “gizmo” look about it like videogames, phones and smileys so this might mean I am in error in judging suitable colours for this market. The front page could use one larger and more elaborate graphic to “grab” attention, as there are quite a few cartoony looking sites to compete with out there.

Some interesting sections of the site include “Dress Up Games” (which involves creating dolls in certain fashions) and “Colouring Pages” and both are interactive and complex parts of the website. “Dress Ups” has a large selection of dress ups to pick from. Upon clicking on one of these, you are able to choose the entire outfit, body, pets, background and accessories for your doll and there are thousands of combinations possible. After you have created a doll, you can save it and access the html code for forums, MySpace sites etc. The sample doll I created for this review was pretty spiffy and exciting, even though I am well into my 20s (and female, incidently!)

Colouring Pages” allows you to colour in pictures of dolls with a moderate colour picker. I couldn’t find a button to save my coloured image, so I was a bit concerned that I wouldn’t be able to do much with the finished product except view it. Also, I went to colour in a face and it coloured in part of the hair, eyes and dress as well so the outlines need to be more clearly defined in some of the template drawings. The colour picker worked at a average speed and the Colouring Book of Dollz with the magic brush worked well and were interesting.

Code is php with inserted javascripts and images are jpg, gif and png but tend to have smaller file sizes due to straight colouring, not gradiated graphics (ie cartoons). Loading times are fast.

Conclusion

The Doll Palace is quite a large website with lots of activities and images and is well suited to its intended audience of pre-pubescent girls and possibly, older girls. In this review, I didn’t get the chance to explore all of it, but the parts I visited were interesting and good looking (if you like cartoony graphics). I felt the authors put in a ton of work and while they might be sighing with relief after all that creativity, they may be in for a bigger battle to attract audiences in future decades when the competition steps up a notch with 3D virtual worlds, messaging, personalisation and freebies taking over the web. However, since the doll activities are free, personalised and can be sent to your friends, the battle may well be half over.

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fig 1. Doll Palace Navigator appears on some pages and not on others

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fig 2. Screen Image of the interesting Dress Up Games

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fig 3. Ooops! My doll’s hair and face are the same colour

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fig 4. The fast-action magic brush tool in the Dollz Colouring Book

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fig 5. My cute Dress Up doll

WRAL: A busy but competent website

Introduction

WRAL.com is an interesting name for a website and one that’s easy to remember. The website itself is easy to remember too, remedy with excellent navigation, design, layout and functionality combining to create a positive news reading experience.

Form

WRAL has absolutely packed the links into their pages while maintaining ease of navigation. With strategic use of headlines, boxes, main headings and positioning, it is very easy to find your way around the site and choose what to look at. As is usual on news websites, a lot of information needs to be passed onto the reader and it’s fortunate that WRAL managed to handle this tricky problem. A main heading at the top of each page gives a summary of what is on the page and this helps the reader to decide quickly whether to read the page or not.

The WRAL.com logo with the tagline “coverage you can count on” is a good logo for a news website as it is striking, simple and memorable. Beside the logo (in the banner) is a transparent newsy image set on a gradient background which is subtle and appropriate. The colour scheme for the site is blues, greys and whites and this is quite suitable, as attention is focused on the text and other colourful elements (such as maps and images) that need to be seen by the viewer. Layout is handled well with left and right columns that branch into more columns on the left when needed. Consistent layout, navigation and presentation make WRAL a “trustworthy” website. Additionally, the cute corner on the top right which shows temperature, a map and subscription options is interesting to look at and a good example of what can be achieved in a small space.

Function

WRAL is an immense website with a lot of helpful aspects that haven’t yet been implemented on some of the other major news sites. Traffic reports (and maps), TV Guides, weather reports, sports, business and news coverage, restaurant ratings, consumer section, horoscopes, contests, lottery results, events, health & lifestyle section and an entertainment section will no doubt keep viewers interested for hours. Advertising is usually expected on news websites (they are prime real estate) and WRAL has quite a few ads, but at least these are non-intrusive and kept to the top, right and bottom. It was pleasing to see there were no popup ads.

Loading times are fast and the pages and subdomains are organised well. The coding is a combination of xhtml, javascript and css and has no obvious issues. I am not sure where the page script came from – the words “Do not alter anything below this line!” lead me to believe the script came from somewhere else but it’s hard to tell as WRAL might have had a head webmaster code the script for the team.

Conclusion

WRAL is a fine example of how a news website should be done and I highly recommend a visit, especially if you are an aspiring news website designer. The amount of work that has gone into this website is astounding and inspiring (although I suspect WRAL has a team of web people working on it) and readers can certainly look forward to a superior news experience. I had only one question about this website – call me an ignoramus, but what do the initials WRAL stand for?


Sitecritic.net award

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fig 1. Traffic Maps

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fig 2. “Cute” Corner

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fig 3. WRAL Logo

Shaped Postcards – A Novelty That Works

Forme cut postcards are a great way to advertise something as they are far more exciting to look at than a traditional rectangular shape. They are also more eye catching than paying for advertising in someone else’s publication. Only a few extra steps are needed to progress electronic artwork to send to the printers for forme cutting. I designed this forme postcard in Adobe Photoshop CS and Adobe Indesign CS.

Design

Firstly, treatment I wanted to create a funky and modern design to use for the forme postcard, doctor so I browsed such websites as http://www.sxc.hu/ to find a suitable image. The client had given me a tagline “slip into the comfort zone” so choosing slippers for the image made sense. I obtained the large jpg image, check took it into Photoshop, saved it as a 300dpi eps and created a path around the slippers. Then I placed the image in Indesign, referencing the clipping path as the Photoshop one. Orange seemed to be the best colour for the background and I placed the words and logo on the top layer. The website address wass meant to stand out particularly, so I used some other colours to highlight words to make it easier for readers to remember.

Keyline

When printers forme cut around an item, it is recommended that the electronic files you send them are a) the artwork with bleed and no keyline and b) the keyline by itself. Both of these files need to have perfect positioning, so that the keyline is in the same place on the page as it would be in the bleed file. A keyline only needs to be hairline or maybe 0.5pt to be adequate. If the keyline is too thick, you might lose some of the areas you want to keep. In order to work in Indesign to fit text and images within the shape, I copied and pasted the keyline onto a separate layer which I then hid when I made the print ready PDF.

Shape

Forme shapes need to be easy to create and cut with, so it is best not to use shapes with long, jagged edges or lots of inclusions or borders. Simple, easy to draw shapes work best – the more complex the forme shape is, the more you will have to pay to create the customised forme. Some printing companies already have a variety of formes they have made and you can always ask them to use one of these as the cost is far less. Also remember that when designing the shape, you need to know the thickness of the paper or card it is printed on so that if the shape is too long, it won’t flop etc.

Printing

When I had finished creating the electronic artwork, I sent it to the printers by using a Print Preset PDF I had created in Indesign. It is a good idea to set up your PDFs as low-res, med-res and print res, so that when you send work to a client, they can’t go and reuse it elsewhere without notifying you and paying you first (ie, you send them a low-med res PDF of less than 200dpi – it becomes pixelated if they go to print commercially with it). These low-med res PDFs are adequate for viewing drafts on the screen and when it is time to send an item to print, you can send it as a high res (300dpi +) PDF so that it will look terrific!

Extra Tips & Tricks

* Using drop shadows or outer glows on text placed in front of images helps to make the text stand out better.
* Lighter background colours are better than darker background colours for making forme postcards eye-catching.
* Keep all text at least 0.5cm from the edge of the card or else it might be chopped off (the further in the better).

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Fig 1. The back of the postcard

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Fig 2. The keyline by itself

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Fig 3. The front of the postcard – printing file(without keyline)

Animal Corner: An Encyclopaedia for Kids

Introduction

Animal Corner is “a place to meet animals of the world” and is an interesting children’s website that I recommend be added to your kid’s bookmarks for surfing. It contains information and facts about all sorts of animals and aspires to be a one stop reference for kids seeking animal information.

Form and Function

With easy to read text (in small paragraphs and sentences) and pics of animals, cure Animal Corner certainly conveys the idea of an online animal reference site well. The safari green, seek brown and evergreen colour scheme creates an impression of environmental awareness and place of animal sanctuary. For adults, this colour scheme is terrific – for children it may be a little drab. Children would like the logo a lot however, as it has plenty of colour and animals while being a suitably interesting and apt corporate identity. The top decorations of the animals in circles which appear on the Wildlife page help to add interest and colour to the site and use the advanced concept of representing the links via images with no text. Kids do love this style of navigation as it is visual, not textual.

Navigation traditionally occurs from a left menu bar but also occurs in cute little animal cartoons, such as alligator starburst reading “Check out our new Reptile section here at Animal Corner”. This is a good idea for child-friendly navigation and helps fill up the page while keeping the loading times fast. The green stripes in the main white area give the impression of an extra right panel where the advertising and site features are placed appropriately. I was happy to see that the advertising was suitably animal-related and not all profit-based. Some advertising appears below the detailed animal descriptions but this is hardly interfering with the content. On the left menu appears some conservational logos and links which are very helpful for this type of website and are likely to be of interest to children (such as the “feed an animal” link).

Upon clicking on the left menu I found that the menu listings changed around a bit depending on where you went (for example the menu displays different items on the Home page to the Pets page) and this could be a bit confusing when searching. The colours changed in the different categories (tan/brown for Pets, cream/green for Insects etc) and while this would not be helpful on a normal corporate site, for children it will probably enhance the viewing experience. The right panel comes in useful in these category pages as it displays another menu for checking out individual species and is far more likely to help children than pull down menus and site trees and maps. A few pages didn’t use this although they had obvious links (ie the Pet page) so there may be some navigational confusion even though the Pet links are contained at the top of the main page. The picture bar up the top changes also for each category also and I noticed the logo size varied between the pages.

The individual species pages include a few key pics of the animals and the facts and figures relating to the animal. It was good to see a map of animal occurrence on some of the pages as well as “useful facts” and the information is quite detailed and helpful if you were writing an animal essay for school. Loading time for the pages was medium, not ultra fast, but considering the amount of images and html information contained, the loading time was reasonable.

Conclusion

Animal Corner is a fine example of a children’s website set in html code – with a few extra tricks to help the viewing experience remain interesting throughout. My suggestions to improve the site would include removing the date (it’s unnecessary information), standardising the logo size and navigation and maybe removing the “Ads by Google” up the top. Well done to the little battler who worked hard on this website – they sure put in a full day’s work!

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fig 1. Wildlife circle bar & ads for Google

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fig 2. Animal Corner logo

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fig 3. Colour scheme on Pets page

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fig 4. Alligator starburst – good navigation for kids

Plant Lighting Hydroponics & Grow Lights

Introduction

The website has a domain that reflects what it is selling – grow lights, generic hydroponic systems and plant nutrients. It is not immediately apparent whether the website is selling for dope dealers or for scientists dwelling in underground bunkers as the online store has lists of items but no associated media such as customer galleries or press releases. There are no product reviews yet. However, cialis sale it was pretty easy to navigate my way around the site and there certainly appears to be a lot of equipment to choose from.

Form

The design of the PlantLighting Hydroponics & Grow Lights website seems to be purely functional, salve with minimal attention given to the colour scheme, logo, headers etc. The site almost looks like a typical template which has been modified slightly. However, an online shop hardly requires fantastic graphics, so this website would work well for people who want to shop with no fuss and frills.

It’s very easy to navigate as in the three column layout, the menu of items is on the left, bestsellers, specials and reviews are on the right and the middle is filled with new products and a brief summary of what’s on offer. When you click on a product out of the left menu, all items in that category are pictured and when you click on one of those you get a price and can click further for more detailed information. There is rather a lot of clicking to be done, but I feel that buyers don’t mind clicking a bit as long as it is clear where they are clicking to (which is obvious in this case). The only two issues I can see with the site is that:

(1) the navigation on the top left stating “Home >> Catalogue” appears with the same screen whether you click “Home” or “Catalogue”

(2) the design is not all that memorable, and would need a more unique logo or branding to really stand out from the competition

The domain name caused some concern as even though it clearly states whats for sale, it’s too long to remember easily.

Function

The site loads up fast enough and is easy enough to navigate. The Quick Find search tool is always handy in an online shop, but when I typed in “grow bulbs” nothing appeared, so it might need to be updated. Links to sign up for new accounts or check shopping carts are easy to find (you wouldn’t believe how many online stores hide these details). I was especially thrilled to see the contact information displayed clearly down the bottom of the page. When I saw that, I thought “here is a business I can trust”…if I was ever in the market for hydroponics.

Conclusion

Overall, the website works well for its intended purpose. I’m sure a lot of happy customers will thank them for the no-nonsense shopping interface. Some tinkering with the template elements such as the Quick Find and navigation might help a bit. However, if the website is to stand out more than the competition, a stronger identity (ie, logo or associated images) is required as it needs to be more memorable. May I suggest a photo of a giant tomato plant on the home page (with gargantuan tomato on it)? Even better, a celebrity chopping away at the giant tomato plant – could help the store display it for both sides of the fence!

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Branding might need some work

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Main item list on the left

A Web Library Worth Visiting

Introduction

When entering the Web Design Library (the Designer’s One-Stop Resource) you will find yourself entering a slick and highly organised website that is worthy of bookmarking. If you like visiting SiteCritic.net, then you will also like visiting this website as it contains a wealth of informative information and tutorials that are helpful to the online design community.

Form

The colour scheme using a turquoise gradient is very easy on the eyes and encourages a feeling of calm while complimentary highlighted text attracts the eye. Tutorials and articles benefit from beautiful and well-sized graphics that demonstrate the content well. Small details, such as the blue borders in the left menu items and the thoughtful use of icons improve the look of the site, as does having a simple, well-spaced logo. The overall effect is very pleasant, attractive and highly recommended as part of a successful website experience.

The three-column layout, while a common one, is usually hard to make attractive as the volume of information and advertising normally bombards the viewer, while the layout does not lend itself to unique appearances. However, I feel that the Web Design Library has successfully used a rare colour theme to make the layout more attractive. The organisation of the information improves readability dramatically compared to other three-column websites I have seen. Advertising is kept to a minimum and favours websites connected to the Web Design Library in appearance and subject. Such pleasing advertising displayed in subtle ways is an open invitation for the audience and should do well in attracting repeat viewers.

Function

Menus are well laid out and a lot of information is compacted so it is easy to read. On the left menu bar is categories for tutorials and articles, and the right menu bar contains interesting site stats, site of the day etc. Clicking on the Editor’s Pick in the centre panel takes you to informative tutorials and articles that are worth a peek. The right menu changes the order of the content depending on which page you visit, which is a handy idea. However, the “back” button doesn’t work in the tutorials/articles and you will need to scroll to the top to choose where to go after reading the page.

A triumph in CSS implementation, the Web Design Library’s website pages are quick to load, while the theme continues throughout the site. As mentioned above, my first impulse after reading a tutorial was to click the “back” button which didn’t work, so I had to scroll up the top to get back to the previous page. This is my only gripe with the website, as all other elements seem to function well.

Conclusion

If anything, the Web Design Library inspires envy in web design and is proving to be a highly successful website. The domain name www.webdesign.org is well suited and worth a visit. Check it out!

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