Even if it is for good cause, show quality

Gurushree institutions aim to provide technical training to young boys and girls in Bangalore so that they can seek employment in both Private as well as Public Sector/Government organizations. The institution was inaugurated in 2001 with 30 student intake to 300 today. The website looks OK for a small institute. Of course, a lot of improvement could be made.


The layout is standard, ie header at the top, navigation on the left and content on the right. The home page looks boring and static. Besides the poll, there seems to be no buzz at all. I recommend adding some dynamic news or links to various departments. For an educational institute, there can be alot of things to write – Add more pics of students and events. If the author ran out of ideas, have a look at other educational websites out there.

website has layout issues

fig 1. Severe layout issues

There are some layout and spacing issues that can be fixed easily using proper CSS. It looks like the content is added directly using the WYSIWYG editor in the Joomla content management system. Using the built-in editor is cool but to gain better control of the layout, the HTML needs to be re-checked before published.

image is too big

fig 2. Large image size

All images used in the site should be optimised before published. I also think that the quality of the images can be improved. Most of them look quite dark to me. I like to see more smiles. Many pictures are either too serious or boring. Perhaps better photography technique is needed here. I also don’t think that it is a good idea to insert the jQuery image slider on every page. It is OK for the home page but for every page, no. The space occupied by the slider could be better utilised for other textual content or smaller images.

something wrong with footer

fig 3. Something is wrong with the footer

There is something wrong with the footer – It looks too empty. Perhaps putting the address at the footer is a much better choice than putting it in the header. Adding some links to the sitemap or important pages in the site can be a good idea.


seo friendly links

fig 4. SEO friendly links?

The website appears to be slow because of the large images. Most of the hyperlinks appears to be very long and unfriendly. It looks like the CMS is running under Joomla – fixing them can be easy in the admin panel. We can also tidy up the CSS abit. I know this can be hard especially if we are running a ready made CMS.

why w3c link

fig 5. Why show the w3c link?

The website is not W3C compliant. Clicking on the xhtml and css link at the footer leads you to a page full of errors. Personally, I see no benefit of telling people that your website passed the w3c check unless you are in the web business like a web design or seo firm. The fact is, a lot of people don’t really care.

contact us page is too empty

fig 6. Contact Us – too empty?

I always think that the “Contact Us” page is very important. It is looking very empty at the moment. How can internet users contact the school? Have a contact us form?


It looks like the website was designed with a low budget. I thought it was a good attempt. If the author decides to improve on it, I strongly suggest working on the graphics and layout. The next thing on the list is to create more buzz – make the site look more busy. Add more interesting and dynamic content and grab people’s attention. If the author has some free time, start using meta headers and work on optimising the code.

Books Are Fun: A Novel Approach

Books Are Fun is a company devoted to presenting a wide range of books for sale to educational institutes and schools, government bodies and other companies. Based in Boulder, Colorado, the business has seen the return of the original owners who are passionate about the products they sell.


The design of the Books Are Fun logo is very memorable and well coloured. This looks great on the website, as does the slideshow of books available. I particularly liked the white space at the top of the page which emphasises the logo.

Make these logos smaller.

fig 1. It is a good idea to make these logos smaller.

The three column layout of the website, while functional enough, has too much text in it and could turn off potential viewers. Talking about your business with a mission statement on the first page does not grab readers – what is needed is a summarised, brief version of who you are and what you do. Then the action you want people to take. Maybe the main page info could be summarised and put in point form? To fill in the page, you can talk about what you do for the customer, instead of what the business is about.

While there are a few logos and photos in the columns pertaining to advertising for the company, I’d like to see all logos made much smaller (secondary and summarised information) and events made more interesting and prominent (eg. The Corporate Book Fairs summarised graphically and presented in an attractive ad, which then links to the page of info). Put the Book Fairs info in point form, make it an ad without so much text and present it graphically and you’ll attract people much easier! Put it at the top of the column and put the Mission Statement in “About Us”, where it belongs.

The font size is adequate – but I’m not sure if the demographics of the audience might include older people who would require a larger font size. The font size does vary within the website and this isn’t very comforting when you want people to trust you for purchases.

Navigation is fine and all links appear to work OK. Some gateway pages might be needed, such as a choice of buttons on the FAQ pages to make sure people don’t have to look at (and be scared by) huge amounts of text which does not pertain to them. The simpler the information is presented, the more you’ll find people will read it.

It might be a good idea to group blogs together in one “ad” on the right column, and just have a link to “Blogs” in the navigation…especially if you might add more in the future. In the “Blogs” page, a summary of each blog (with a thumbnail) might be a nice touch.


Too much text is scary for the reader!

fig 2. Too much text is scary for the reader!

The website indicates through the logo that it is educational, and the slideshow of books indicates items are for sale. If extra attention is paid to removing scary amounts of text and replacing it with much easier to read information then more customers might be interested. Obviously “Books Are Fun” is an important company with a huge customer base, but in order to harness more internet customers, the website does need some work.

The loading time is quite good, although the Flash slideshow of books takes a little longer to load. Maybe inserting a loading progress bar might help to let the viewer know there is more info arriving?

A page summarising blogs might come in handy later

fig 3. A page summarising blogs might come in handy later.

Coding is the usual CMS with CSS, Javascript, html and added Flash etc. Blogs are in Blogger. Looks like the CMS was created by a development team.


Books Are Fun is a company in great shape and with a lot to offer their customers. I’m sure off the internet they are fantastic, but on the internet some improvements made to their website will attract more custom. I’d recommend simplifying the information on the main pages (add spinoff links for more info) and look at what information should be prominent and what should be less important to customers. Internet viewers are impatient and like quick loading and graphically interesting sites which look simple and are easy to read. Try to create the main page as one big ad, containing all relevant and simple information. Best of luck!

Simple and Clean Architectural Website


cca.qc.ca is the website for the Canadian Centre for Architecture. By actively promoting interdisciplinary research in all aspects of architectural thought and practice, the Canadian Centre of Architecture hopes to increase the awareness of the role of architecture in the society.

Form and Function

The visitor is welcomed with an Ajax slideshow on the home page. The layout is straight forward and clean with the main navigation on the right and subnavigation on the left (see fig 1). The main content is in the middle and is scrollable with both left and right menu fixed in position. The author has obviously designed the website with usability in mind and you can feel that the whole website is very organised. I can’t see the logic in the left menu though as it keeps changing on every page. I prefer to see something related to the menu that the user is in. For example, if the user is at “bookstore”, the right menu could display the recent titles and so on…

To be honest, I am not a fan of using right menu as I usually read from top to bottom or left to right (perhaps many users are like that too). I am OK if the website is flashy and is designed to show off creativity like http://us.powerade.com/.

I thought many sections are very clean and thoughtfully designed. The ajax lightbox image gallery works very well in most cases. The only drawback is the loading time. The “bookstore” section is not appealing enough for me though. I like to see more visuals in this section (see fig 2). As I navigate through this section, I noticed that it is an online shopping cart. The “place order” page actually ask for the user credit card details but is not ssl encrypted. I strongly urge the company to disable the checkout till it is fixed or think of some other ways to handle online payment.

The “browse” and “calendar” section looks different to me. Why change the css for these 2 sections? The left padding for the left menu now seems abit off for me. I am not sure what “browse” means… seems like a sitemap to me. Does it really need to be so obvious and be part of the main menu? Also, I feel that the secondary navigation on top of the “browse” section does not have enough contrast. Perhaps they need to be more obvious with better mouse over effects (see fig 4).


cca.qc.ca is a highly organised site with quality content. The navigation is simple and the content is uncluttered. I am sure many people will have good impression of the site after visiting it. However, having said that, I do have some concerns. I think that the bookshop is not fully functional yet and should not be handling credit card payments. Secondly, I don’t like the left navigation – I think it is competing with the main content. Lastly, I feel that more improvements can be done to the consistency in navigation in the sub sections. For example, “calendar” and “browse” seems to be very different from the rest of the site. Overall, I would say that this site should be in the top 10 percent and close to 4/5 stars.


fig 1. Not sure if I like the left menu


fig 2. Booklisting needs a thumbnail?


fig 3. Calendar and Browser doesn’t look right to me


fig 4. Browser top nav mouseover needs more contrast?

Mandarin = Zhongwen


Zhongwen Red is a website that offers free Online Mandarin Chinese Lessons. The whole site looks plain but the content might look interesting for people who want to learn mandarin and want to learn it for free.

Form & Function

The layout is pretty straight forward with all the navigation links on the left. Each menu consists of several chapters. Clicking on each left menu brings you to a page containing the actual chapters. There is not much of design and the content looks pretty dry. But having said that, the author makes some effort to highlight certain paragraphs and tried to explain certain chinese characters (see fig 1). There are even mp3 for the conversation!! Thumbs up for that.

The header image looks ugly and I also don’t like the heavy footer. I think the author should organise the site abit better, all the resource links should be under one section and not on the footer.

As I navigated further down the chapters, the extra explaination becomes lesser (too much work?). I really hope the author can put in more graphics and make it more interactive. This can make the learning process more interesting. If I am someone really new to the language, I want to start from scratch, possibly one word at a time, maybe something like counting 1 to 10? I also want to know how to pronounce the words. The pronunciation (pinyin?) below the chinese characters is not helping much (have a crash course on pinyin in the first chapter?).

I also like to learn more about the culture – so some information in that area will be cool. Out of curiosity, I followed 2 more links, ie “zhongwen green” and “zhongwen blue” in the footer. These sites were similar to zhongwen red and I wondered why the “red”, “blue” and “green”?


I believe the website is targeted at beginners. If I am new to mandarin, I need more explaination and help along the way. If the author can provide a bit more foundation to the language, like explaining the characters, culture and pronunciation would be cool. Oh, and please add in more visuals so that the user don’t fall to sleep. Overall, I think there are still alot of room for improvement.


fig 1. Extra help on the chinese characters

Office Rentals Made Easy


Office Connection offers a professional service to businesses looking to rent serviced offices in UK. They source, find and organise office space with flexible or traditional terms. Navigating the site is a breeze with the Google Map Technology.


The Office Connection website looks a lot like the www.londonofficespace.com one, with a map-driven system to find offices available for rent with Google maps. The blue, orange and grey colours, while professional looking, are also a bit ordinary and now that I have met the competition (the London Office Space site) I would recommend putting a bit more oomph into the colouring, such as having an orange background to stand out.

The Office Connection logo is also professional yet humdrum. Maybe a graphic or textual design element is needed to make it stand out more? I like the prominent phone number at the top of the page, exactly where most websites should have them as it eliminates hunting around for viewers. The “Search by City” and “Find Office Space In” boxes also help viewers.

With a two column layout, the home page is definitely easy to follow and should be simple enough for most viewers. The fonts are suitable for web readability but don’t change much when other text sizes are selected in the browser. This might be because the layout would not appear as nice, but I don’t think it would hurt to have the function available, as most textual parts could drop down the page without losing the map.

The star ratings are a good feature that liven up the appearance of the modules and the favicon is a nice touch, if a bit boring.

The Expert Office Advice blog was a nice touch and the design and layout looked quite different. I would recommend using similar colours and logos in the blog to match it to the rest of the site, as I thought I navigated away from Office Connection when I looked at the blog.


Navigation takes place on the top banner area, the left side, the map on the right side and the Privacy Policy etc down the bottom. It’s easy to follow and all pages appear linked properly. Coding is html with CSS and javascript. There weren’t any keywords in the metatags, some might be needed to attract more traffic?

For the sake of interest, if you are living in london, check out the Central London Offices page. It has a comprehensive map with icons showing the whereabouts of the offices. I found this handy to look at rather than the text and would probably use this feature a lot as a potential customer. The Edinburgh Office Space and other areas also had a similar comprehensive map. I think the strong left navigation and frame scrolling (don’t need to scroll the entire page) in the entire site is a plus point.


Office Connection is a nice website that should be helpful to customers. The design is professional but needs to stand out more to beat other websites of a similar nature. With keywords added and possibly a faster loading time, the website should get more targeted traffic and therefore more “sales”. From a marketing point of view, the webmaster must seriously think how they can be different from others (since many people are starting to utilise Google Maps in their sites). Providing extra information like the “Expert Office Advise” and FAQ is one good start. I would rate this site slightly better than londonofficespace.com due to the extra content provided.

I would also suggest Office Connection to provide more contact details (if any) other than just a phone number because people do not know who they are dealing with.

fig 1. The Expert Office Advice blog

fig 2. The comprehensive Google map of Central London

fig 3. Detailed information on a property

Australian Oxfam Website – Colourful and friendly


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.


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.


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.


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

fig 1. Sydney TrailWalker

fig 2. Content presentation

fig 3. Asian Region OXFAM Groups

fig 4. Navigation 4 tiered

Search For Offices In London With Google Maps


London Office Space is a website that offers a map-driven system to find serviced offices available to rent. By letting them do the work for you, and finding an ideal London location can be as easy as signing a short-term lease and moving in.


The main page of the website is unique but is organised well. It consists of a main banner and paragraph and underneath are two columns, check the left column with a list of location names to click on and the right column containing a clickable map. At the bottom of the page are text links to “London Life”, sildenafil “Privacy Policy” etc. The maps on the website are triumphant feats of illustration (even if they are from Google) and are very helpful to the viewer and as an added bonus, they resize when the browser window does too. A minimap also helps to pinpoint the region. There is a key to go with the map showing offices, railways and so on, but since the key contains ticked circles instead of representative symbols I found it confusing.

Colours for the website are orange, grey, blue, black and green and are consistent with the logo. London Office Space’s logo is modern, simple and stylish, the only issue being the words “Office Space” which do not sit aesthetically under the word “London”. Possibly flattening a font like Arial Black as a tagline would work better. I thought the colours represented the type of business well and looked professional. The layout of the pages is neatly organised and pages are consistent with the two column design with contact details up the top. I liked the large phone number in orange at the top as it’s so obvious no customers can fail to use it if needed.

The colours in the top and bottom of the main page wrappers are an interesting idea too – thin multicoloured bars adding to the colour scheme. Images within the individual locations are sharp, bright and don’t look too doctored (which is normally the case with real estate). These pictures look realistic but well-taken. Each serviced office has a description, rating and buttons to schedule viewing, request price or add to shortlist.


It is easy to navigate London Office Space, especially as there are two ways to navigate on many pages (text links and clickable map). Since the contact details are at the top and an arrowed destination list is shown, viewers can not get lost and should not have trouble finding what they are looking for. This is an example of a straight forward website.

If you live in central london, have a look at Central London Offices and if you live in outer london, have a look at Offices in Outer London. You can see that searching for offices is very easy by clicking on the balloons in the map. Coding is php using javascript and CSS as well. Loading times are a bit slow (even on an ADSL connection) – I believe this may be due to the map loading times. That are pros and cons of using Google Maps and loading time is one of the cons.


This website needs faster loading times, otherwise traffic might go elsewhere and regular customers might get frustrated. Maybe with caching or the advance of internet connection, loading time can be improved? Other than that, the site adequately meets customer needs and provides a huge range of offices to choose from in UK. With the same technology, it is likely that the company can extend their services to include other countries as well.

Londonofficespace.com is an example of a site that incorporates the latest open source technology into their services and is a role model for many other directory sites. The design in particular is efficient, simple and easy to navigate. Well done!

fig 1. Logo & Thin Colour Bar

fig 2. Each office has ratings etc

fig 3. Key with ticked items

Malaysian Charities in the Pink


HATI is a small charitable web portal, shop run by volunteers, hospital providing directory listings for charities, help community projects, etc. in Malaysia. The site contains information relating to Malaysia, and, as such, is probably not of great interest to those outside, with the exception, perhaps, of international corporate sponsors.

Form and Function

The organisation’s pink logo is certainly striking enough with easy pinkish navigation at the top of every page. Personally, I think this colour tends to clash with the orange menu links at the side, although these become the same lucid hue on rollover.

The first questions which occurred to me were, ‘What does HATI stand for? Is it an acronym, or a Malaysian word, perhaps?’ I’m afraid I still don’t know the answer, since the information appears to be nowhere on the site.

The site is quick to load – with the notable exception of the photographs in the ‘Gallery’ section, which are excruciatingly slow. Similarly, navigation is fairly straightforward, although the designer has neglected to include a ‘Home’ button on the navigation bar, which sometimes means backtracking through numerous pages. The homepage has a link, amongst others, to ‘Least Viewed’ – I think I can understand what the designer was trying to do, in the sense that ‘Least Viewed’ might mean ‘Most Deserving’ – but it effectively comes across as ‘Most Unpopular’. In addition, the ‘View Our Sponsors’ link just links straight back to the homepage itself.

In terms of design, the homepage is dominated by the vivid navigation bar, and a photograph, which, although appropriate enough in subject matter, is low resolution and poor quality. There are also wide expanses of redundant white space, some of which it appears that the designer has filled with a (currently empty) news and events area, and a (seemingly redundant) calendar. The text on the homepage is poorly formatted, and a contact email address appears twice, but is not a hotlink in either case. The design looks OK for a portal site but I guess more information should be provided to fill up the empty spaces.

The inner pages are fairly simple – HTML textual information interspersed with links – although links for websites and email addresses are missing in some of the content sections. Many pages have long text and abit boring at times. Some of the English is conspicuously written by a non-native speaker (understandably), and there are some errors in vocabulary, spelling and capitalisation. The footer also contains unnecessary long description.


Overall, HATI has the look and feel of exactly what it is – a small charitable site, run by volunteers – and while it would be unfair to be overly critical of such a noble venture, the fact that the HATI Forum has only ever received two postings, both over six months old, speaks volumes for what visitors think. Perhaps abit more marketing can bring in more traffic to the site.

An empty about us page

Harrisville Fire District


Harrisville Fire District is located in the heart of the Town of Burrillville, encompassing the historic villages of Harrisville and Glendale. The website is very informational but the design and layout is a little confusing.

Form and Function

The author has done a good job in explaining what the website is about in the index page. The title “Harrisville Fire District” is almost impossible to miss. However, I have to admit that the animated fire engine (with the sound) across the screen is very irritating. Every time I returned back to the homepage, the animation started all over again . I also realised that the the website does not seem to work on my firefox browser.

The left menu is straight forward and easy to understand but the text links in the footer is too long. The author could have just use “Water Department” instead of “Return to Harrisville Water Department Home Page”. The author might also want to consider adding a section on “user privacy” or “terms of use” to make the website more official.

Alot of images in the website could have been replaced by text links which is good for SEO. For example, the header title and the top navigation menu. It is also a good practice to add alt tags for all the images used in the site.

It seems that the department pages are maintained by different parties. I feel that more coordination is needed as the look and feel of each department pages is so different from the home site (The first image on the right shows the fire department landing page). From the web design point of view, this is not healthy as it is confusing for the user. In fact, I prefer the clean home page design as compared to the department design.

The website contains incredible amount of information for the local community. The fire department especially, is just like a website on its own. It talks about the department’s history, equipment, stations, membership, recruitment …etc. I hope that the water department pages can be as informational.


In conclusion, Harrisvilleri.org is a website with good content. The homepage design is fine to me except for the animated fire engine across the screen. The author might consider having more consistent menu and design across all the pages in the website. Lastly, firefox should be supported as more people are using it as their main browser.


Educational High School Mathematics Website


Math10.com is an online mathematics education portal. The site itself provides many math lessons, formulas, theory and even a forum for people to ask questions. The website focuses on high school mathematics, targeting at internet users ranging from 12 to 20 years old.


The website as a whole looks very technical. I am more of a graphic design person and is very tempted to ask the author to work more on the colors and inject more graphics. However, having said that, I also realised that the website’s focus should be on the content. It is possible to get dedicated visitors if the content is unique and interesting. I feel that the author has done a good job in providing interesting content for high school maths students.

Like I mentioned before, the aesthetics of the website is probably irrelevant here and I do not want to dwell into it.

The menu list is long and could be confusing. This could pose a problem if the author wants to add more topics in the near future. To solve the problem, I would suggest to use javascript or collapsible menus. Other than reading the title header, there is no way I know which topic I am in after clicking on the links in the menu. It might therefore be a good idea to highlight the topic after the user click on it.

The menu and some web pages have links to the forum but clicking on the links will take the users directly to the forum. I strongly feel that the use of pop up windows will justify here because I want the users to visit the forum but I do not want them to leave my main site. I would also prefer the forum to be fully English. There is only one forum and the language should be internationally friendly, ie English.


Web pages that contain mathematical theory probably need no changes over a long period of time. So, the greatest challenge for math10 is probably to sustain its visitors by providing updated maths questions and tutorials. Instead of having the questions together with the theory page, It might be a good idea to have another section to focus on questions for certain topics. For example, under “quadratic equation”, the author might provide a link to more quadratic questions in another section of the website.

After browsing through the web pages, I spotted serious language problems in the whole website. The homepage itself already contains errors. It could be typos and I might be wrong about the author’s language ability. An example is the introduction text:

” In the furture for every theme there will be many interesting tasks with decidions. ”

I would love to see more text, descriptions and examples under each chapters. The introduction of each chapter is too brief for me. The short test is a good way to gauge the student’s understanding of the different topics and I would recommend the author to add more self evaluation tests.


Overall, I would love to see more topics, questions, tests, and a more organised menu. The website does not look appealing, so the author must work very hard on the content. Driving traffic to the website is probably the biggest challenge. The author needs to find ways to get traffic for math10.com by liasing with educational institutes or other educational websites.