Mountaineering Website Review

Introduction

mountain-guide-adventure.com is a website created by Sebastien Laurent to share with others, healing his passion for the mountains and all things vertical. My first impression of the home page was OK but the use of French and English on the same pages can be confusing especially for people like me, who do not know french.

Form

Sebastien tried to create an interesting site packed with information about mountain climbing and I think he has done a good job. The problem for me is that combining French and English together in the same page is always confusing. It might be better if he could provide an option for the user to browser the site either in English or French in the index page without showing too much information. The colors blend in well but I am not too sure about the layout.The logo on the top left hand corner looks blurry to me. The rest of the graphics look OK but I thought they could be brighter so that they stand out more. Overall, I would say that it is hard to find my way around the website though its visual appeal is alright.

The website starts with a standard header but does not end with a standard footer. I realised that different pages end differently. Most of the time, it ends with links similiar to those in the sub-menu. I also think the author needs to talk more about himself, his passion, inspiration and so on… Passion can be contagious. If someone is really passionate about something, people will know it and can be influenced by it easily.

The right column is pretty static and I am not sure if it is worthwhile having an extra column that does not really serve any special purpose as most the links in that column could have been incorporated in the left hand menu/sub-menu.

Function

The navigation was confusing and I could never tell when I was in the site. The top navigation path is non-clickable and does not tell the user where they are. Perhaps a sitemap really helps in this situation. Again, I could not find any indication of the existence of a sitemap. The sub-menu consists of French as well. Unless the site is only for French audiences, no one will know what “Aiguilles Rouges de Chamonix” is.

Conclusion

There is no doubt that the author had put in alot of effort in creating the site. The site could have been more user friendly if the navigation and English/French problem as stated earlier are resolved. A good way to test the usability of the site is to ask people who are never involved in mountain climbing to surf the site. The website can be considered well-designed if these people have no problem while navigating the site.

www.mountain-guide-adventure.com.1

www.mountain-guide-adventure.com.2

www.mountain-guide-adventure.com.3

Cute idea, big mistakes in web design

Introduction

This site promotes a book in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi genre that appears to be geared toward younger audiences. “SFX Fantasy: Sarah’s Journey Into A Strange New World” is a tale of fantasy and romance that moves between the light and the dark in a world of strange beasts and amazing powers. The site concept is cute, however the implementation and design lacks in a number of ways that becomes quickly apparent to the visitor after a few clicks.

Form

This site uses simple book-like imagery as the defining design for most pages. Font selection is consistent, if boring, and there’s really no branding as you move around the site. There is very little actual design to anything here, as the font is black on a white background using all of the default link colors. It doesn’t appear that there was a lot of thought and effort put into this site at all.

The home page has an oddly placed hyperlink near the bottom that states, “Here is my sfxfantasy blog.” It uses a different font than the rest of the website, and the link text is placed over the edge of the book in the background graphic, so it’s difficult to read. It honestly just looks like a mistake, as it doesn’t appear on any of the other pages. The “Original layout by…” comment is also misplaced compared to the other pages, and actually throws off the “book look” somewhat due to adding table cells below the book that also book-use the side images as the background. It just looks weird and out of place.

There are major inconsistencies in the various page designs, and there is a strange flickering effect, especially at high screen resolutions, as you move around the site. Also, some of the pages have black backgrounds that just stop arbitrarily part of the way down the page and change to white. Again, this is probably only very noticeable at high resolutions, but it does not help the already lacking design of the website. The Affiliates page is just a plain white page with text that doesn’t look at all like the rest of the site. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Function

Navigation is accomplished by utilizing a horizontal menu above the “book” body of the site. There are also links throughout the content that lead to various pages – some of which are accessible from the top menu – some of which are not. Finding something more than once can be a challenge, especially if it buried in a page that only links from some obscure place in the content.

The Store page displays a few images from the book, and when you click on one of the images, it navigates away from the site to an outside shopping cart where you can purchase a vast array of supporting products. The Serpent traps Jake link ends up at a login page displaying “Session expired.” The others go to their respective product pages, although I’m not a fan of links that navigate away from the site without opening a new window in which to do it.

Conclusion

The product being sold is cute and appears appealing to its target market. Although I can’t really speak to the overall quality of the book as I have not read it in its entirely, the three chapters that I skimmed over seemed clean and well written. As for sfxfantasy.com itself…

The just site screams, “Amateur!” It doesn’t get much worse than this. Professional design help desperately needed.

www.sfxfantasy.com.1

www.sfxfantasy.com.2

www.sfxfantasy.com.3

www.sfxfantasy.com.4

Australian Music Web Portal

Introduction

The Australian Music Web Site (AMWS) is a resource site containing information about Australian bands and artists, online retailers stocking Australian CD, DVD movies and music titles.

Form

When I first visited the site, I had a hard time trying to understand what the website is all about. The website header is the best place to describe the purpose of the site because people tends to look at the header first when they read from top to bottom. The header in AMWS is somewhat confusing with too many links. I had Google and Alexa toolbars installed and the header with advertisements already took up half of my screen.

The header could definitely be simpler. The author might consider using just a phrase or a sentence to replace all the text in the header. I believe the advertisements could also be arranged in such a way that the header appears less bulky. I do not like the idea of using animated advertisements because as I feel that it tends to distract your visitor’s attention (just my opinion).

The design is very simple and nothing fancy to discuss about. This is perfectly alright if the content can capture the reader’s interest. However, this is not the case. The logo gives me an impression that the site should be fun and interesting but the content tells me otherwise. I would really want to see more details on the movies or music, rather than just links to external sites. I think there are too many annoying links at the moment and some of them are not even working.

Sites like this should have stronger visuals to create more lasting impressions. It is not difficult for a movie or music site to impress their audience. The key is to use quality images of actors, actresses, bands…etc. When people feel related to their heroes and that they have something to read, they will stay longer.

Function

The top menu is pretty easy to use and straight forward. The database displayed on each categories are also well organized. However, some of the lists are very long. I would suggest the webmaster to break the list down into different pages or sections to help the eye to digest the information better. Portals like this should have a search function. It is very inconvenient for the users if they want to look up certain information quickly.

There are 4 main categories in the website: music, movies, kids and sports. The layout of each category is different. For example, in the movie section, there are images, description and links. For the kids section, there are only images. The 3 images on the right show the layout for the 3 different categories. It is a good idea to standardize the way information is being displayed so as not to confuse the reader.

I also think that they need to talk more about themselves. I have no idea who they are and where they come from. They also need to have at least a section on their legal policy or something similar.

I had a look at the music dvd section and spotted duplicate entries for the dvds. Upon further examining, I found that the 2 entries for “Kylie Minogue Music Concert” for example, consist of the DVD and VHS format. Since both the records share the same image and information, I would suggest combining them into one, with just extra links to the DVD and VHS detail page. Alot of space could be recovered if this technique is being implementation.

The website does not seem to be running from a database which I think it should. Managing vast amount of information on website like this is a tedious task without using database technology.

Conclusion

I expected abit more resource from a portal like this. AMWS needs more real content and not just links to other sites. Alot more work could also be done on the visuals.

www.amws.com.au.1

www.amws.com.au.2

www.amws.com.au.3