I've been playing around with a complete re-design of my site and would like to know which one people prefer. The original layout can be found at http://www.dvdlard.co.uk and the new layout at http://www.dvdlard.co.uk/index2.php.
The new design seems to be significally faster than the old one. I'd be interested to hear what you think of the relative loading speeds.
I prefer the original layout, it seems cleaner somehow.
I have to agree, I like the layout of the 1st site better.
One problem with the first page, though, the formatting is all screwy on my Macintosh (IE 4.5).
There's a big blank space at the underneath the navbar, so you have to scroll down to get to the body, then there's a block of whitespace to the right, so that horizontal scroll bars pop up, even though there's nothing there.
Lastly, on my site, all the pages are php too, but I added this the the htaccess:
AddType application/x-httpd-php3 .php .php3 .phtml .html
It tells the php interpreter to look at .html files too, so it's more transparent. (plus people will instinctively add .html to all the page links when they re-enter your url)
I was thinking of using it to add keywords to the url, ie
AddType application/x-httpd-php3 .keyword1 .keyword2 .etc
but I decided it would look spammy :-)
Anyways, that's my diatribe for the day!
If it ain't broke, don't fix it?
that can't be right... ;-)
Yep, I like the original one better too :)
I'm quite surprised by the responses because I prefered the new layout, maybe I've just been looking at the old one too long.
Is it because the new layout is too angular? I've been experimenting with rounding the corners off. You can see this at http://www.dvdlard.co.uk/index3.php.
I'll admit, I like #3 better than #2, but here's why I still like #1 better:
A) #1 Leads off with a headline and a short body of text. The row after row of cover art and white space is a little akward for an opening page.
B) The green bar is better along the right-hand side of the page, this way it doesn't look as weird when people have smaller or larger screens. (By the way, #2 and #3 are too wide, your site should be no more than 640 pixels across for people with smaller monitors)
C) There's no strong visual layout. The navigation buttons are centered, the text is left-justified, and the background is right-justified(with the green bar on the right). I'll admit, the first page has some problems along these lines too, but they're not as over-powering.
If you want to improve the site, here's my suggestions.
1) Keep the left-justified background (like Page #1)
2) Use the entire second column for one body of text
with an interesting "H1" Headline. (Maybe you're newest review)
3) Across the green bar at the top (where you're nav buttons are now in #1) put:
Browse our Reviews: All Titles | New Titles | 5-Star Ratings
After all, reviews is what you're there for. Put the other links (in smaller type) down the green bar, underneath your newsletter sign-up
4) A lot of your reviews sound like the came off the box cover. If they do, say "From the Box Cover", if you wrote it say "My Review" or "Gelf's Review", otherwise it's not clear if that's promotional copy, or a real review.
5) Each review should have a link saying "Buy (Title Goes Here) from Amazon.com" or whatever your affiliate is. By the way, pick 1 affiliate and stick to them. Amazon's probably the best because they'll have nearly every title, but there might also be a better one for the UK(I'm assuming that's where your based)
6) Keep you new reviews where they are running down the green bar (under the other links), but make the titles into links so people know that you can click on the picture to go to the review. (Also use hspace and vspace attributes in your IMG tag to give some space around the cover art, the titles are hugging too close).
There, those are the major things I would do (but I'm not you, and it's your site) :-)
I think you have a very good base here to build up a valuable, interesting site, best of luck!
PS. feel free to return the favor, I know my site needs a lot of work too! :-)
I think the main reason I like the first design is because the nav bar in the other two just seems to be hanging in mid air rather than form part of the actual design.
Thanks for all the replies guys (especially growspot). I had a good think about how I wanted it to look and took in some of your suggestions. The result can be found at http://www.dvlard.co.uk/index2.php.
The one thing I really like about this new version is the Feature Review section. This grabs the first few paragraphs of a random review with every page load. (try a few refreshes and you'll see what I mean).
Anyway let me know what you think.
I just noticed that there was a typo in that last url. It should be http://www.dvdlard.co.uk/index2.php
I like this layout much better!
(Even better than the 1st) :-)
Sorry to give you such a hard time over all of it, but that's what we're here for right? :-)
I checked the site on IE 4.5 for the Mac and Netscape Communicator 4.7 for the Mac.
On both of them it was just slightly too big to fit in the window. I'm on an Apple iBook, which has a slightly larger-than standard monitor, so think about all the others out there with the EVEN smaller monitors :-)
I noticed you had the width at 760, but I really think it should be at 640. (I promise, that's the last time I'll say it) ;-)
The other option is to use percentages instead of pixels (which some pros say is best), but I hate using them, because then you can get funky effects on different monitor sizes.
Other than that, the layout was still kind of funky on a Mac, but I'll but it looks a lot tighter on a Wintel box.
You have the right idea, keep updating the site, forever...
A website that's "finally finished", is just that "finished" (forever)!!!
PS. I liked the idea of the rotating reviews at the top, but I couldn't get it to work, it kept giving me American History X. (A good movie!)
And the text was smack up against the cover art. (Really, use the hspace and vspace, if only at 1 pixel.) :-)
Thanks once againg for the repy Growspot. Don't worry about the hard time, thats the whole point of asking for reviews :)
To run through some of your points:
I don't know why the rotating reviews didn't work as it works on all machines I've tried it on (they are all windows machines though).
I'll have to try the width at 640 and see what it looks like. I originally set it as just under 800 because I did a site survey and over 95% of visitors were running at least 800x600. I guess it's unfair to ignore those with smaller resolutions though.
Thanks for the vspace and hspace tip. I've never really used these tags but I can know see how much better it looks with a little white space around images.
Okay, I've had some really big problems even getting to your site. I've had several traffic jam warnings, which I only seem to see while visiting sites created by swirve entertainment.
The only portion of the site that I was able to access was the mainpage, which was a redirection. The redirection doesn't look to good and it would turn away a lot of visitors. I know that I won't venture any further into a site past a redirection at times, depending upon my need to go there. I don't like redirections, because I know redirections are usually done for some sort of covert purpose, for example, taking information through cookies, snagging email addresses, spamming search engines, scamming banner exchanges, etc. Others aren't going to relate it to such, however if I go to a site I want to go to the site, not to a site leading to the site. Okay?
Otherwise, the site looks good, what little I did see of it anyway.
No Don't switch to a new layout the one you have looks pro I really like the one you have