Hotel Lev Yerushalayim

Introduction

Lev Yerushalayim is a hotel situated within walking distance of shopping and business areas, historical sites and cultural centers of Jerusalem. I feel that their website lacks visual appeal and the information about their services is too brief.

Form and Function

Upon entering the site, I was welcomed with some warm colors, flash animation an a popup window. I have to admit the popup window puts me off initially. The flash animation isn’t fantastic but may be just OK for tourists. Unless the flash is really out to impress, I would rather take it out completely to improve the browsing speed.

The site is graphic intensive with many mouse over effects. I wouldn’t agree with some of the effects for example if you mouse over the word “find us in”, another word will be revealed below it – “center of town”. To me, this mouse over effect serves no purpose. A quick switch between Firefox and IE detects many layout errors. The links below the top menu seems to have CSS problems as well. The main content area has lists that eats into the left pictures. I also think that the graphics are too big and they could be optimized better.

The problems with the CSS also leads to inconsistency in the layout. You can see some white patches here and there and some alignment problems of the images. These errors could be forgivable because you might not realise it if you glance the website quickly.

The navigation is simple but I feel that the content is too little. The hotel should be able to write more about their services and what they can offer. Instead of only using pictures of rooms and places of interests, they should also put up pictures of their staffs and customers.

Conclusion

Overall, the website of hotel Lev Yerushalayim fails to impress and lacks visual appeal. There are serious CSS and inconsistent layout problems. There are many redundant mouse over effects and many graphics are too heavy. However, having said that, their website could just be good enough for most tourists in Jerusalem. Perhaps Lev Yerushalayim don’t need to rely on their website for business and if that is the case, then their web presence becomes not so important.

levyerushalayim.co.il.1

levyerushalayim.co.il.2

A Joomla Experience with Jenerate Limited

Introduction

The web design scene has changed a lot during the recent years. Nowadays, sovaldi even a normal person without a web design background can create a website easily. Just a few clicks and typing, a full fledge website is up and running on the internet. All this is possible with a Content Management System, or in short, CMS.

Form

Setting up a website is never the same again with tools like Joomla, a popular open source Content Management System (CMS) previously known as Mambo. A website foundation is up in few minutes and all the user need is to write their site’s contents, create images etc. Joomla’s powerful feature lies with the ability to allow users to maintain their website content easily and more efficiently without having to bother too much on the design and scripting part of a website.

Jenerate Limited is an internet solutions company providing services like domain and web hosting, web design, graphic design, internet marketing and content management systems. Like many other companies on the internet, Jenerate has adopted Joomla to create their website and maintain their contents with the CMS.

Immediately when I reached their site, the first impression was “Oh, another CMS site”. Very standard, like you can probably see 100 other similar designs out there. Professional, clean, straightforward are the words I can relate to Jenerate’s website. First impression does not last because it does not have any key highlight that catches my attention. As we humans always say this person has a common face, this website has a common design.

Joomla uses a template to define how the whole website looks. Therefore, a good Joomla website starts with a good design template that defines everything from the font, navigation bar, images and CSS styles. By using a template, the whole website appears more consistent.

As we can see, all the elements like information, main navigation, side navigation and banners are arranged in a clear and presentable manner. This prevents the user’s mouse from losing its way in the browser. Content font size is also at a readable size. Headers and contents also separated neatly by color and size.

Layout of contents lacks a few prominent dividers to separate recurrent contents especially under the Portfolio and Solutions sections. An added line or header with color should do the trick. Color usage is pretty generic with red as prominent headers, black for contents and white as base. These colors work well for any professional websites like Jenerate Limited.

The whole website has more text contents than graphic elements. This is probably due to the usage of Joomla. But I still want to highlight 2 of the interesting ones:

The site keeps itself lively by creating subtle movement using a banner that fades in and out of different images with taglines. This is useful for CMS sites, as many tend to feel that CMS sites are boring and stagnant.

Under their portfolio section, they included small thumbnails of their works bounded in a photo frame-alike border. This is a good effort in beautifying the site design as they visually enhance the portfolio thumbnails on a white background. However a point to note, even though there are text links to the portfolio works, they should add the links on the thumbnail images as well. Most users tend to click on images than text links.

Function

The problem with usability is that not everyone notices it until they truly test their website. For Jenerate, there are many sections where necessary links should be underlined or changed into the standard blue color underline link.

A website usability analysis shows that most internet users immediately recognize an underline blue color text is a link, as compared to links with different text formatting. For example, one of the links actually situated within the paragraphs, which I do not even know unless I rolled over them. User will miss out such information unless they thoroughly read the paragraphs of text. (We all know that users only skim through contents most of the time on a website) Even if the links are not important, it should still follow the standard rules of usability.

Other than this, all pages have a form on the side bar, for users to sign up to Jenerate’s mailing list if they are interested. Under the contact section, they have also included a form for users to key in their message. Forms are common features in Joomla CMS, which are widely used to improve the user experience.

Conclusion

Jenerate Limited has made good use of a Content Management System like Joomla to organize their information and present it in a clear and professional manner to the users who are viewing their website. By fixing the minor glitches as stated in this review, it will benefit the users who are considering their internet solutions.

www.jenerate.com.1

www.jenerate.com.2

www.jenerate.com.3

A Google Adsense Website

Introduction

Computerbrands.org is a website about immigration, work permit and business. Many people would expect the url – computerbrands.org to infer a website about computers but infact, the content has no relationship with the url at all. The author might have this spare url and decided to use it to generate adsense income.

Form and Function

Yes, this is a typical adsense website with no real content. All the content is generate by Google adsense. The main navigation is at the footer with each link pointing to a sub-domain which contains the keyword in the url. Surprisely, the menu is designed using flash. A website like this should contains more text and html text links.

As you can see, the design and content is pretty boring and there is nothing much to talk about it. The header in the index page tells me that the keywords of the website are: immigration, visas and work permit. Looking at the menu, there are no links relating to the keywords. Users looking for immigration information will feel dissapointed. While navigating the site, I found that the sub-domains do not have headers. Every page is almost the same and the idea is simple… just click on the links to visit other websites.

Adsense sites like this can be effective if the content or service is unique. A good example is whatismyip.com. This website is flooded with adsense ads but provides a unique service – checking your ip address. The service itself motivates users to return to the site. I can’t really find any motivation to return to computerbrands.org.

Conclusion

I feel that the author can spice up the website by providing some useful content relating to immigration, visas or work permit for the users. It would be even better if the author can provide articles relating to computers because that is more relevant to the current url.

Aircraft For Sale

Introduction

AFORS, viagra The Aircraft For Sale website provides aviation enthusiasts classified advertising on the internet. Though the service that the author provide is interesting and unique, store the website itself needs a big re-structuring.

Form and Function

The author has done a good job in describing what the website is about in the index page. The website looked normal to me at first but there were serious problems when I started clicking on the links.

The menu items on the left need to stand out more. The mouse-over effects could have been better. I would suggest a stronger mouse-over contrast with reversal of white and blue colors. Some menu items are too long. For example “Create and Maintain Ads(log on)”. The few links further down the menu actually point to other websites and I would suggest the author to group it under “other links”. In addition to the four drop down boxes for searching aircrafts, the author might also want to create special categories based on the searches. For example, “Featured Aircrafts” and so on. The menu is important because it tells the user the amount of information the website provides. Too few menu items might make the site looks boring but too many menu items might confuse the user.

Afors.com is designed using frames with many links actually pointing to cfors.co.uk (probably another site of the author). The outgoing urls are very long and not search engine friendly. An example of the url is:

cfors.co.uk/afors/index.php?page=view&adid=3170& si=43f9bfe931d75& PHPSESSID=fb155b8434d005239ca3279aaeb8b470& PHPSESSID=fb155..

There are obvious problems with the php coding and the author might want to fix that asap. Instead of designing the website using frames and grabbing data from cfors.co.uk, I would suggest the author to just focus on one site and redirect traffic from the other site to the main site.

The author might also want to look into the layout of ads in his website. The banners have to be consistent and I would suggest the border of the banners to be 0. The adsense actually blocks some of the text in some pages (See the right illustration). Placing ads in the wrong positions or having ads that obstruct the content can kill a site easily.

Conclusion

I have to say that afors.com needs a big revamp and would suggest the author to get rid of using frames in his website. To make the website more user-friendly, the author needs to work alot harder in the menu design and ads placement. The author is obviously a programmer. He might want to work with a designer to spice up the colors and design of the website.

www.afors.com.1

www.afors.com.2

Hotels to buy Review

Introduction

Hotels to buy is a business that provides useful information in buying hotels, recipe guesthouses, bed and breakfasts in England, Wales and Scotland. The design, usuability and coding of the site probably need some extra work.

Form

My first impression of the website was not good. Though the images look good, the design is not pleasing to the eye and the color scheme does not work for me. The purple and the blue in the site does not blend or contrast properly. I could hardly find any branding or logo in the site. A logo is important for a business. Though there is a URL on top of the site, it is not a logo. The website needs to work harder on its brand and design so that it can leave a more lasting impression on its visitors.

Function

The menu in the home page is hard to find, almost non- existent . I found two links at the bottom right corner which are the “links” and “home”. There is a not so nice “register for free” purple with red border button in the main content column and one link for users who forgot their password. There are also links for advertising and buyers down the bottom of the home page. Another weird thing about this website is that when I clicked on the link “Links”, a whole new navigation on the top appears. That is confusing because the navigation is not consistent.

The author might consider centering the layout and perhaps provide a menu near the header (like the links page) in the index page. The cluttered content can also be split up into more pages.

The content appears to be messy and once again does not sit right with the colors that the designer chose. The registration page is not much better as all the fields have a yellow background that does not complement the colors of the website. The input fields should also be aligned instead of centered. I must admin that the images used in the home page are of good quality. However, it seems like they are glued on the screen and do not blend into the website.

I was a bit surprised that the site is CSS validated. However the HTML is not valid and there are various errors. The javascript appears to be heavy as well.

Conclusion

I can see that the website is designed just for the purpose of encouraging people to register as a member. Everyone can receive that message easily as they will not have any problem finding that big register button. It that sense, you can call the website a success if you want to. But I think that we can all agree that more work could be done to make the site look better and more user friendly.

Great Content Needs To Be Organized And Presentable

Introduction

Preferred Seating is a company in United States, doctor providing design, layouts and installs superior quality theatre seating and stadium seats. I think their website has great content but alot of work needs to be done on the layout.

Form

The home page is very important because it is usually the first landing page of your website. It is therefore important that the homepage must motivate your visitors to stay. I could already pick up alot of things by just glancing at the homepage of “Preferred Seating”. The 2 things that came into my mind immediately were a) The site has layout problems. b) They need to re-organize their content.

The first rule in designing any website is not to overwhelm your readers with tonnes of information. Too much information confuses your readers and makes your website boring. I feel that the author has alot of things to tell but is abit too impatient, displaying too much details in the home page.

There are alot of words in other pages well but many them are redundant. For example, when the author is describing church seatings, he need not tell long stories about how important comfort is to people in the church. Chair industry is quite specialized and does not have a wide appeal. People must have arrived at the site with a purpose. This means that they want to buy something and want to know what you have to offer. What is the point of beating around the bush? It might be a better idea though to talk more about the products in a separate window or let the user download pdf a file if they wish to know more.

I like to use the website of another furniture company, freedom.com.au to illustrate the importance of “Uncluttering Your Website”.

Function

Though the main navigation menu is easily identifiable, the submenu is not. The current submenu is sandwiched between some images and text, making it hard to detect. I would suggest some mouse over effects or even move the whole thing to the top. There are currently no links back to the home page and I do not know where I am. While surfing the site, I also realized some pages have alot of empty spaces that make you scroll for no reason.

I feel that the “Contact Us” link should not be the first item in the menu. People usually want to look at your products before contacting you. The company should also talk more about themselves. Information like how long they have been in the industry, their work philosophy, major projects, awards won…etc are good ideas.

I think the author needs to work alot harder on the images. The image on the right shows how a chair without a background looks better than one with a background. While browsing the entire site, I found that the layout is different in every pages. The inconsistency extends to the empty spaces around the images and text. Also, I cannot see how the blue line between the menu and content fits into the theme of the site. Instead of changing the images in the header for every page, I would suggest perhaps to leave the header with a fix image because some images are not cropped properly.

Many header text in the body are not aligned properly. The author might consider using CSS to provide custom alignment. To me, I feel that the page that set a better example should be
http://www.preferred-seating.com/html/Gym_Floor_Covering.htm.
I would strongly suggest the author to use the layout in this page as a guide(or template) for all the other webpages. The use of a template is very effective in generating consistent layout.

The coding needs a big fix as well and I think the main concern now should be on the design and layout. One of the big problems in designing website yourself is the generation of redundant codes which is very unhealthy in terms of search engine optimization.

Conclusion

The website has alot of nice content which needs to be manually filtered and organized for user-friendliness. The author has a long way to go if he wants to turn this website into something more presentable and marketable. I would suggest re-designing the website with some professional help.

www.preferred-seating.com.1

www.preferred-seating.com.2

www.preferred-seating.com.3

www.preferred-seating.com.4

W3C Compliant Website That Has Great Potential

Introduction

limeVista is a new web design firm located in Banbury, sale UK. As opposed to my counterparts in Sitecritic.net, I am more of a developer rather than a designer and that makes my taste of a well-designed site different from them; I like this site because it is W3C compliant…

Form

The layout and navigation is simple and consistent. The mouse over effect for all the links in the site is almost identical. I though the top menu can be highlighted by using a slightly different effect to show its importance as compared to the links used in the body. The hyperlinks can be named with an underscore or dash to separate the important terms. If you search for “graphicdesign” and “graphic design” in different search engines, they might all return different results. This is not terribly important but I thought it helps abit in SEO.

If the author can find a way to extract the sentences used in the banner as text, it would be even better. I thought the words used are cool and they should be visible to the search engines. Another way is to make a part or the whole banner clickable. I am very tempted to click on the banner especially when I see the word “Click”.

Function

Though the layout is effective, I thought certain areas could be enhanced with nice graphics. Professional pictures and icons can really make an idea stand out. For instance, when the author is talking about their design services, I would be more convinced if there are some pictures relating to design beside the words. There are times when certain sections such as “Web Design” becomes too lengthy and confusing… Again, intelligent use of graphics can help out.

The black box description that appears beside each menu when mouse over is cool. The contrast makes the descripton stand out and is very useful in providing extra information to the user.

On further inspection, this site may look like a blog site using a template. I think it is important for the designer to add in some “business touch” and make it look more like a commercial Web Design site which will give more credibility to the company.

The site seems to be still under construction but is already showing great signs of success in terms of the code used. All the pages are extremely light weighted and the alignment is rock solid across all browsers.

Conclusion

It is a pleasure to navigate the site though I would love to see more graphics not related to lime but related to human interaction, services, design…etc. The coding is professional and will lay a strong foundation for future changes in web technologies.

www.limevista.com.1

www.limevista.com.2

www.limevista.com.3

Hyperkit Graphic Design

Introduction

IHyperkit are young London-based graphic designers Tim Balaam and Kate Sclater who create websites and print work for art, sales design and architecture firms.

Form

Hyperkit. Graphic designers for artists, there designers and architects. With a name and a client base like that you somewhat expect their homepage to be aching to impress with Flash effects, grand manifestos and an arched eyebrow. How refreshing it is to arrive and find a simple, well laid-out site that is impossible not to want to root through – which makes a lot of sense as you discover that they love flea markets and have a penchant for high Modernism. Hyperkit obviously put a lot of themselves into the site, even including excellent colour photography from their visits to places that inform their work. If you can contain your jealously for their jetsetting, it is easy to get wrapped up in their headspace and forget that you are essentially looking at a piece of self-promotion.

Navigation is surprisingly simple and visible on all pages – big buttons at the top for the main sections, a bar of projects, and click on an arrow to see more. Finding their clients’ websites is even easier – just a pull-down menu list in the Work section opens the site in a new window. This no-frills approach is not out of laziness – it allows you to concentrate on the work rather than the fluff. The site is well laid-out, but it may annoy some visitors that they can’t see all the content on one screen – a fair bit of scrolling is required, though I feel it adds to the impression of rooting through an interesting range of work.

Function

The site contains a surprising amount of content which, and this is key to a good site, is updated regularly. Laid out much like a journal, each project is put into a Polaroid-like box with a small, quickly-loading image and a brief description. Most of these link to further details about the work or the client’s shiny new website – however, they do seem to be falling off their high horse and seem to be adding less detail with each new project.

Conclusion

Conclude your review. You may also suggest some final tips to improve if any. There are no hard and fast rules in the conclusion (even in the different sections of the review). Be professional. Be honest but not rude.

www.hyperkit.co.uk.1

www.hyperkit.co.uk.2

Citi Bank

Introduction

Citibank, diagnosis part of the Citigroup family, capsule is a global provider of financial services such as investing, banking and insurance. Though Citibank holds a strong presence in the financial arena, the company’s presence on the web falls short of their leading reputation.

Form

The Citibank brand is consistent throughout the website. Each page houses the “citi” logo in the upper left with a royal blue border at the top of the page (fig. 1). Though consistency is evident, I am reluctant to call a logo placed on a page an actual brand. The lack of a tagline and traditional brand elements throughout the remainder of the website contribute to an impersonal and uninviting presence.

The design of the website is very clean, consisting of a white background, promotional flash element and sections devoted to user tools, quick links, and ads. The top navigation area and brand is consistent on each page, though once the user navigates from the home page, the design takes on a more informative style, eliminating promotional advertisements and dropdown.

The layout of the website, in my opinion, could be better. There is no flow of information, only a sea of dropdowns and ads – especially on the homepage. The user is given a plethora of “where do you want to be” options, however, no hints to show the user the right path to take. I think Citibank could have eliminated the “Products/Services” page and instead included these links in categories on the home page with the optional “see all” under each category to save space. The interior pages lack all and any type of design element – merely a body full of text and a meager right hand menu that does not convey any message Citibank may want to present.

Overall, the aesthetic design of the website is fairly bland. There are no color deviations, design elements, or photos to separate areas of interest. I would like to see more color used to draw attention to areas such as the “Look, Apply, and Find” sections. Without photos or other design elements, the user is forced to find their way around the website on their own without any direction from the company.

The top navigation bar, consisting of “Welcome” and “My Citi” is standard (fig. 1). Each tab contains relevant information to either the member or the visitor and appears on each page for easy user navigation. The switch between the “Welcome” tab and the “My Citi” tab can be a little confusing, considering the sub-menu changes when the main tabs are rolled over.

Aside from the “Sign In” area, the left hand menu on the home page is nothing more than a few drop downs that may or may not be relevant to the individual user (fig. 2). These dropdowns are not self-explanatory and the layperson would seemingly have to find what they are looking for through trial and error. These particular dropdowns on the left hand menu, at first glance, cater only to the business owner or investor – an area the individual may avoid.

The dropdowns in the body area – “Look and Apply” – are effective for both the individual and the business owner; however, these sections are in no way displayed to convey this. As I mentioned in the Design portion, the “Products/Services should be contained on the main page and appropriated toward the individual, the business owner or investor. Nearly the only dropdown that makes sense on the homepage is the “Apply” selector. This option makes it very easy for the user to apply for an account of their choice.

Last but not least, the navigational text links on the top and bottom right of the page are fairly standard in web design. It is common for users to look in either area for links to specific types of information. These links, along with the top navigation bar consistently appear on each of the pages for easy user access.

Function

The Flash element on the home page is non-offensive and tasteful (fig. 3). Having said this, it is not memorable either. With no color deviation throughout the overall page design, the Flash ad is lost and does not draw the attention that it should. Another issue with the Flash ad is that it stops at the end of a promotion and does not generate a new promotion unless the page is refreshed or revisited. I would like to see a constantly active Flash element that keeps the non-offensive approach but brings in the user’s attention.

The small thumbnail ads placed at the bottom of the page fall into the same scenario as the Flash element (fig. 4). At first glance, I did not realize they contained promotional information and thought they were simply unpleasant design elements linking to various portions of the website. In addition to the lack of attention these promotions are given, they are difficult to read. I would like to see promotions like this included in the Flash element – one that is constantly, but subtly, moving through promotions.

Conclusion

The strong point of this web site is information and the amount and readability of that information. If a user looks long and hard enough, they will be able to find the information they are looking for, however, looking long and hard is the problem.

Overall, www.citibank.com could use some organizational and design help. Adding design elements and restructuring information flow would not only present the website better aesthetically, but it would also give users some direction in their search for information in navigating the website. It is fairly evident that the planning for this site was accomplished through the eyes of the company – what they thought the user would want and need – and not through the reality of the user’s wants and needs.

www.citibank.com.1

www.citibank.com.2

www.citibank.com.3

www.citibank.com.4

IT Employment Website Review

Introduction

Since the IT boom times of the early 90’s, ampoule IT jobs have been restructured, retrenched and revolutionalised in great numbers. Unfortunately, a lot of people who had based their career pathways in IT found themselves unemployed and proceeded to get angry via complaints boards on the internet (and who could blame them?)

Function

In 2003, Paul Knapp decided there was room for a recruitment site with a difference – it would contain meaningful short articles on the state of the industry and have real jobs that people could apply directly to employers for, thus cutting out the frustrating middlemen of the new age – job agencies.

Paul Knapp’s idea has been cemented in his Brainbox website, and he is to be commended on providing a helpful and much easier experience for IT jobseekers.

The website itself loads up quite fast, using a combination of forms, frames, html and javascript. The colours used are quite bland and put the viewer in mind of an IT worker (note the greys are the same colours as those used on most computers and mice!) while the logo has a daring dash of green which makes the site just that little bit more exciting and a little bit more professional.

The ultimate success of this website is in its layout. The left menu contains the key elements of Forum, Job Search, Advice etc and the middle white box contains lists pertaining to the main subject clicked on (eg, Forum posts). On the right side is some trivia, statistics and advertising, which viewers can feel free to ignore if they wish.

Brainbox is browser compatible, using frame percentages to shrink or expand the window appropriately. The viewer is assured of an easy-to-navigate, easy to follow website with content that is updated frequently. My only critique would be that more colour is needed….and not necessarily in the advertising!

Conclusion

Conclude your review. You may also suggest some final tips to improve if any. There are no hard and fast rules in the conclusion (even in the different sections of the review). Be professional. Be honest but not rude.