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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot Overgrow's Avatar
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    I run one of the largest, most active sites for Cannabis growers on the web... Over 1.5 mil hits from 3.5 mil page views per month, 2500 to 3000 uniques per day.

    Currently the magazine takes 20+ hours to update each issue. My goal is to reduce that time by going from a serialized-release schedule to a constant-update database backed site.. pulling the most current content from mySQL and then updating the front page appropriately.

    The current site, please view first:

    http://www.overgrow.com


    The first draft redesign, now in PHP. I haven't done the NS styles yet so please IE only:

    http://www.overgrow.com/iss5php


    The links and such on the new page don't fully work, I just finished cutting this up and gluing it to the database. I'm looking for reviews comparing the old site (large photos, hand-worked, customized for each issue) to the new one (database backed, simple to update).

    Check out the forums too if you like, I'm kinda proud of the VB template work and custom hacks.

    thanks

    Overgrow the Government: The Edge Forums
    presented by Overgrow Marijuana Magazine

    *warning: adult content

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot Isaiah's Avatar
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    Ok folks, I am going to take a leap here and risk posting a review on a VERY controversial type of site.

    First of all, let me say this: I do not condone the growth of cannabis (marijuana) or the use thereof. (In fact, I will be fighting the use of it in my future career in law enforcement.) This is strictly a review of the design, I won't even go off into the controversial world of the content.

    That said, let's take a peek at the design.

    I am running on a 28.8bps modem, 800x600 screen resolution w/ 16 bit color, and IE 5.0.

    The design loaded fairly fast with about a 15 second load time on my machine.

    The new design is definitely an improvement over the old one. Navigation is much easier to grasp (maybe for your visitors who are high, no offense intended, I just had to say that ).

    The colors used are definitely easy on your eyes and as far as layout goes you can easily find what you are looking for.

    The smaller pictures and images definitely give you more room for content above the fold (at least on my screen).

    That's all I have to say.

    P.S. How you can run such a site is definitely beyond me. The only reason I can see is if you are a user/addict yourself.
    <Edited by Isaiah on 01-04-2001 at 08:31 PM>
    Isaiah Walter
    Owner / Visionary
    White Wonder Studios - San Diego web design & graphics
    www.whitewonder.com

  3. #3
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    Is it not illegal to have a site like this? I'm surprised that you have so many posts on your message board I also doubt this is even allowed in SitePoint.

    The design colors are pretty nice but I think you need to line up the images a bit more..

    Good design, but I'd use your efforts somewhere else.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard edshuck's Avatar
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    Hi

    Welcome to SitePoint. I hope you will find the information we share with to be useful and your time with us to be productive.

    I am going to take a look at the code that holds the site togeather and will be back in a bit with a revision to this post.

    Other members are invited to review this site. It is very well done.

    Code for the main page

    There do not seem to be any errors. There almost always is a problem. But there are none.

    There is a difficulty. The accessability items are not complete. None of the alt= are completed and none of the longdesc= are used and none of the accesskey= are used.

    There is a possible problem with the depth of the table nesting and the use of 3 (or more) deep.



    <Edited by edshuck on 01-04-2001 at 10:28 PM>

  5. #5
    SitePoint Zealot Overgrow's Avatar
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    Hi Ed,

    I wanted to PM you but that is one feature SitePoint lacks. It is a great service this forum provides, especially you who takes the time to actually pick apart everyones minor code typos! I hope you will be gentle, this is an absolute first draft as I just finished it this morning.

    I've already enjoyed my time here at SitePoint but I probably should've lurked longer to get a better feel for the community's attitudes. My forum site has been well received at VB.com and I've gotten several requests to do redesigns for others. Not one word about the site's content, but then again there we've also contributed code to the community.

    Anyway, let me say, I am not put off by your response at all.. I'm just a humble graphic designer trying to get feedback on my work. I'm currently working consultancy (read dot.commer) so I don't have any of my friends to bounce the layout off of. I normally would never show a site at an early stage in a public place-- my users don't know that link exists...

    I found SitePoint while looking for the Karma hack... I suppose I will have to write my own! I doubt we're upgrading to 2.0 VB so it won't matter to us. I was very impressed with the level of community here and I don't mean to offend anyone with the content of the site. It is one of many, I do have efforts elsewhere




    AAAAND.. having said all that... Good to hear the load time is decent, I was worried about it with my normal graphic bloat and the fact that I added mySQL and 5 queries.. more to come when the articles get tied in.

    Any more comments? Thanks!

    p.s. Our forum archive would be twice the size but we changed from WWWB to UBB and there was no import. Normal forum stats: 60-80 users, 500 posts a day is not uncommon. If you'd like to explore the site further:

    http://www.overgrow.com/backiss.html

    http://www.overgrow.com/edge
    Overgrow the Government: The Edge Forums
    presented by Overgrow Marijuana Magazine

    *warning: adult content

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot Overgrow's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments on the code Ed !! I know about the accessibility stuff, it's as incomplete as my cross-browser compatiblity-- I'll do that at the end. I'm really proud of that code if you said that; I typed every character myself including the PHP

    ps. If I didn't nest tables I wouldn't be me.. It's a lovely breeze compared to some of my previous nightmares-- now that I can use div-margins and they work most places.

    [edit: OOPS I freely admit ImageReady cuts up my tables now and I didn't type the capitalized table code. I don't manually slice-- that used to take hours]
    <Edited by Overgrow on 01-04-2001 at 10:40 PM>
    Overgrow the Government: The Edge Forums
    presented by Overgrow Marijuana Magazine

    *warning: adult content

  7. #7
    SitePoint Wizard edshuck's Avatar
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    Hi

    Thanks for the nice comments about the forum. But the thing that makes this forum work is the member.

    Please check back at least each day. There will be other replies. Not all of our viewers get to the forums daily.

    If you have not had time to check, you owe yourself a trip to Server Side Scripting forum - right here in Sitepoint. The forum has kevin yank, vinay and karl as advisors and a whole bunch of really talented and very active code writers.

    Your site has very impressive coding.


    peace

  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot Overgrow's Avatar
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    Hi Ed, I will check out the scripters forum, thanks.

    I must say though, I've only been here a day, posted a few friendly reviews, maybe a bit helpful I hope-- and I already have negative 7 karma points-- just for my site content!

    WELL to show you all, I'm going back through this thread and giving everyone who responded a big fat kiss of positive karma to show my appreciation that you at least told me how you felt and that I just have love in my heart for you. (LOL!)

    OG
    Overgrow the Government: The Edge Forums
    presented by Overgrow Marijuana Magazine

    *warning: adult content

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard
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    First of all, I like the site (coincidentally, the owner of Smokedot.org who I chat with sometimes posted the URL in my chat room...freaky)

    I would make the logo stand out a bit more on the article pages. It's green and so is the background, and I think the logo is great and should be on every page.

    When I clicked on "Pot pictures and strains" I was taken to another page within the domain with a completely different design. I at first thought I was in a sub-site of some sort.

    Also, I don't think this is innapropiate for SP. It's legal in Holland and this is certainly not a US-, UK-, and Australia-centric forum. If the US suddenly outlawed Javascript, would it be OK for us to use it on our pages (although on second thought, I wish JS were outlawed)?

    Last thing: you shouldn't have negative karma. Karma is supposed to be given based on how informative/funny/interesting/insightful the post is. NOT WHETHER ANYONE AGREES OR DISAGREES. Whoever rated you down must think that the last posts you've made are worthless, which I don't think is true and I think most people agree with me. I think whoever rated you down is abusing the karma system so that their opinions can be seen as more important.

    <Edited by qslack on 01-05-2001 at 03:03 AM>

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard edshuck's Avatar
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    Hi

    I am not used to the positive posts you have been so generous with.

    I do not see the purpose for negative karma on your post.

    That is something that is usually reserved for someone providing a "catty" review. You have not done this.

    You have followed all the member guidelines.

    The boss, here abouts, is Wayne Luke (wayne@sitepoint.com). If you feel the karma count needs to be addressed, he is always available. (I am not really sure he sleeps).

    peace


  11. #11
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Links to sites outside the SitePoint Community.
    Linked sites are not under the control of SitePoint and SitePoint is not responsible for the contents of any linked site or any link contained in a linked site, or any changes or updates to such sites. Sitepoint is not responsible for webcasting or any other form of transmission received from any linked site. SitePoint is providing these links to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by SitePoint of the site. This includes links promoted in Community Member signatures and in the Web Site Review Forum.

    With that out of the way let me say that I was asked about this request before it was approved by the Advisor's and I gave my go ahead on it. The reason for doing this is the simple fact this is not illegal. The possession of Cannabis is illegal in many places but discussing the growing of Cannabis falls under freedom of speech. From what I can see, Overgrow.com is not selling marijuana nor the equipment to grow it, they are however protesting the illegalization of a plant which has many beneficial uses for societies around the world.

    If you disagree with the content then merely write a review based on the merits of design.

    I personally find the forums at Overgrow to be one of the best implementations of vBulletin available.
    <Edited by W. Luke on 01-05-2001 at 12:24 PM>
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  12. #12
    Skills to Pay the Bills Sparkie's Avatar
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    Hello Overgrow and welcome to the SitePoint forums.

    First let me say that your website coding is exceptionally clean. Everything in the design fits together well. Good work.

    I noticed on your /iss5php/ that the smaller font you use for "more information" links and article descriptions is very difficult to read. I would boost it up to the next larger size.

    You definitely need to add more keywords to your meta tags, right now you only have two.

    Otherwise the layout is well-organized and developed. Nice choice of colors and good use of graphics.






  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard westmich's Avatar
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    One observation: the site has a clean, sharp look, but is inconsistent. The main page, search page, and discussion board all look good, but different. It gives you the feeling that these are three different sites.

    IMHO, the look and layout of the discussion board looks the best. If you can mimick that look throughout the site, it would be a great improvement.

    Westmich
    Smart Web Solutions for Smart Clients
    http://www.mindscapecreative.com

  14. #14
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I clicked on a link to http://www.overgrow.com/edge and immediately my browser started refresing and refreshing. It was as if one page told it to go to the other page, and the other page told it to go to the first page. You might wanna check on that. I have IE5 with JS off.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Zealot Overgrow's Avatar
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    I don't want to sound defensive so I am glad others have posted on the free speech issue and I am really impressed with the amount of support shown in this thread after the first few replies. My karma went from -7 to 68 overnight I know how hung up users can get on their title or ratings, but really I wasn't out for cheap karma.. I just wanted to point out that I thought I was getting bad points for the wrong reasons.

    And again thank you for the positive comments on the redesign and the forums (but I'm always happy to hear more!)... In regards to the poor continuity across the domain, I totally agree. I will soon be progressing it to be more in style with the PHP front page while still keeping the slick feel of the forums. But really there is something about the forums that grates on me when I look at them now..

    I haven't nailed it down yet.. It could be a bad combination of greens in the upper left corner-- the leaf doesn't pop and the title green might be a bad mix. Also the UI is too cluttered though it is smoother than most bulletin boards... I intend to really reduce it that while not intefering with the current setup (it is the main traffic draw of course) or making the users learn a new interface yet again. (And we need a karma system...)

    The whole magazine article look and inner static pages are also going to change.. Strainbase was done by a totally different fellow and growFAQ I designed in about an hour so I could finish the programming work (wrote my first PHP search engine and it bites, no relevance yet). They are intended to be sister but separate sites though as they have their own domains.

    Sparkie: since you noted a font might be too small could you please post specs of your review equip: monitor size, resolution, do you normally wear glasses, etc It looks good to me but then I've never checked it on any other system or with any other eyes.

    Qslack: thanks I will check, I know we use jscript and meta refresh at the same time, maybe the meta one has a bad link.


    OG


    [edit: btw, I *really* like the forums here, wluke.. I know you from the vb forums but I never checked out your link. I wish I had before, this ranks in the top 3 easily-- Your header bar / icons + logo are absolutely first rate, something I would imitate if I accepted 468's :]
    <Edited by Overgrow on 01-05-2001 at 01:06 PM>
    Overgrow the Government: The Edge Forums
    presented by Overgrow Marijuana Magazine

    *warning: adult content

  16. #16
    SitePoint Zealot Overgrow's Avatar
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    <offtopic>
    This is not the time or place to discuss it, but if you have a beer after work or on weekends watching football or you have a glass of wine with dinner, you are just as much of a drug user to me as I am to you. Please feel free to jump in our Shark Tank if you would like to continue in a friendly debate. The Tank is an off-topic chat area and is unmoderated-- it's not often we get to talk to people in there who think so differently.
    </offtopic>

  17. #17
    Your Lord and Master, Foamy gold trophy Hierophant's Avatar
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    Sparkie uses a 640 X 480 resolution monitor. THe fonts would look the biggest at this size.

    Why she uses this monitor is a mystery modern science hasn't yet been able to unfold. Either she is a purist or a glutton for punishment.
    Wayne Luke
    ------------


  18. #18
    Skills to Pay the Bills Sparkie's Avatar
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    I use it because I don't like to squint I cant imagine how someone could read at 1024x7xx without getting a headache!

    Overgrow, I cant believe I didnt post my computer's specs when I reviewed your site. I nearly always do, sorry about that! Here they are:

    640x480 screen resolution
    IE 5.0
    Javascript On
    56k connection
    Win 98 SE

    W. Luke is right, normally the fonts would be biggest at this screen size, but they look tiny and crammed together. If you want, I can take a screenshot of it. Also I'm glad to hear that the karma thing is straightened out now. That just goes to show you that the maturity level and mutual help of our community put SitePoint leaps and bounds ahead of the rest!


    Sherice Jacob - Web Improvement Expert
    Improve Website Conversions | eBook Covers
    Follow Me on Twitter!

  19. #19
    SitePoint Guru CJ's Avatar
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    Disclamer: I'm not related to the site, nor do I approve the content of this site (OverGrow.com).

    This said, I'd like to point out the following thing. There is a rather big problem with a table or cell being out of place in:

    MS Internet Explorer 5.5 @ 800x600 on 17"

    Click here to see what I'm talk about.

    I really like the design of your site and of the vBulletin. If you need more info about the problem IE5.5 has with your new design feel free to ICQ me on 65564679.

    Quinn: I don't think growing Cannabis is legal in Holland. Smoking Cannabis, or having canabis with one is legal though, but you can't have more than a certain amount. In other European countries Cannabis is illegal, but the Police doesn't punish small users anymore.

  20. #20
    <? echo "Kick me"; ?> petesmc's Avatar
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    Sparkie - In IE, under View > Text Size, what size does is say your text is?

    People can read at resolution of 1024 * 768 because we usually have bigger monitors which means the dot pitch is usualy larger or the pixels are further apart.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Member
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    Hi OG,

    While I'm not much on the content, you've got a really tight-looking design going on, and a fast load on a dialup 56K connection as well. And you're right, the PHP will save you a lot of time in updating for new issues.

    The look of the site is very clean and professional, and the layout is very logical and usable. There is a missing "valign=bottom" on the <td> element of the second slice of pictures at the top, which throws off IE 5.5 at least - I saw this mentioned above but didn't see the solution posted.

    I too had the text problem, I am looking right now at 800x600 on a 15" monitor, and normally have the text size set to "Smaller" on IE5.5 (glasses but they don't give me a problem). On that setting the smaller text looked a bit crushed together on your site, but on raising the text size to "Medium" I found it made everything too big - I don't like the feeling of reading a "picture book". I opted to just leave it at smaller, it wasn't a huge deal.

    I also looked up the "mainstream" competitor(? - hightimes.com) to your site when I had some friends over who were into that scene - it's where they said they look, anyway, and you've got that site beat hands down as far as my general impression of looks - not being into the content and all probably doesn't go towards lending a lot of credibility to my opinion, but what the hey... the navigation on your site was much more logical and easy to pick out what was what - which were forum posts, which were articles, and where the main sections of the site were, as opposed to that other site's apparent interspersal of ads everywhere and no apparent clear navigation. And for what it's worth, those friends took the URL home - they refused to believe "you found that site while you were working?"

    djslack
    no known relation to qslack

  22. #22
    SitePoint Zealot Overgrow's Avatar
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    Thanks CJ and DJ for the comments and for pointing out that mis-aligning <td>. It could probably be fixed with a valign=bottom but I believe the real issue is that the top right text-nav is spilling on to two lines... caused by font sizes but easily fixed by spanning that <td> out to the right so it can spill wider.

    I think I've fixed it now... it already had a colspan but was hard-widthed. Can you tell me if still see the problem?

    Thanks for the comparison to our mainstream competitor! It is helpful, whether you're into the scene or not. We have about 1/4 of HighTimes' traffic but they've been in print for 30 years? Our more recent competition includes:

    http://www.cannabis.com
    http://www.cannabisworld.com
    http://www.hempcultivation.com

    One thing we do need.. which I'm obviously not very good at.. is search engine placement. No one outside of our community really hears about us. High Times had us linked at the top of their "cultivation" section.. they were sending us 100 new registers a day... until they got it in their heads that we are competition even though we make no money and have no real staff.

    I will post again soon when I have the redesign complete with guts.

    Overgrow the Government: The Edge Forums
    presented by Overgrow Marijuana Magazine

    *warning: adult content

  23. #23
    SitePoint Wizard TWTCommish's Avatar
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    I'm not an advocate of Marijuana legalization, but I'm sorry to hear of your negative Karma.

    That said, I don't know if this is useful or not, but I think your copy of vBulletin looks nicer and cleaner than just about any other.

    In fact, I emailed you awhile back asking if you would mind me using a similar, inspired color scheme someday - thank you for your permission.

  24. #24
    SitePoint Zealot
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    Originally posted by Sparkie
    I use it because I don't like to squint I cant imagine how someone could read at 1024x7xx without getting a headache!

    Overgrow, I cant believe I didnt post my computer's specs when I reviewed your site. I nearly always do, sorry about that! Here they are:

    640x480 screen resolution
    IE 5.0
    Javascript On
    56k connection
    Win 98 SE
    About the headache, is it because everything is too small?
    If so, you can just go to View>Text Size> and Increase it. Believe me, 1024x768 is a lot better. I bet you have to scroll side-ways on almost every page with your res.!

  25. #25
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    You have a wonderful site BUT I still dont think your content has anything to do here and I hope that SitePoint removes this post. There are a lot of young people who come here and just say... NO!

    And to all of you who are helping him improve his design, I've heared enough people tell me they started on that kind of crap and went on to completely ruin their lives to not support this crap.

    I consider myself to be somewhat of a liberal but not when it comes to drugs. This post is really offensive to me.

    /Anders


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