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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast chickaboom's Avatar
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    Ready for review - A World War II site

    Hello,

    Well, I'm close to finished. I'm ready enough for reviews. Two things I should tell you...

    First the intro page is not yet linked to the site so I need you to click separately to go to index and index2. You see, I'm having a great problem with Swish. It sometimes uploads properly but more often, not. It took me four days of repeated uploads to make it finally work. I dread revising it which I must do before launching the site.

    Second, in the POW Search I only have the list of names ending with letter A up. The rest will follow but you can see what the layout looks like.

    Lastly, I must say in my heart of hearts I want very much for the site to not look amateurish. I made it for my mom and she said most of the WWII sites she's seen felt very "sterile" to her. I didn't want to make it too fancy as it's not meant to be entertaining, and I fervently hope not to offend any veterans who might view it, so I went with a simple design but one that I hope has a feel to it. It's been a challenge as I've only done feminine sites up to now.

    Please view it and tell me what you think. I give everyone permission to not sugar coat their replies.

    Thank you SO much for your time!

    http://home.earthlink.net/~tstjohn

    http://home.earthlink.net/~tstjohn/index2.html
    The circle of life

  2. #2
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    I'm not a big fan of most splash pages. They are problematic for search engines to index.

    For starters, your title "The Oryoku Maru Story - Coming in May" (it's June, drop the "coming in may" part) isn't very descriptive. I've never heard of Oryoku Maru and these would not be terms I would search with if I were looking for something to do with WW2 or POWs. How about something more along the lines of "A World War II POW Hell Ship Survival Story - Oryoku Maru"?

    You have no meta tags or text on the page to be indexed. Think of keywords that people would search with to find your site. And include variations such as World War II, World War 2, WWII, WW2, WW II, WW 2 because people will use different terms in this case.

    And please, oh please, make the flash optional. I'd have something like "View 125K Flash Intro" and "Skip Intro". Don't make me wait if I don't want to. I'm not sure what the size is (I just made up 125K) but I'm on a dialup.

    On to the next page. "o r y o k u m a r u o n l i n e - Thank you for the bookmark." Again, your title isn't going to help with search engines. Maybe have a "bookmark this site" link on the page, but it's rather presumptuous of you to assume I've bookmarked it.

    You've got some meta tags here, but words like "deep respect, love and loss and heroism" I don't think are optimal.

    On hellships.html you have a link to radiogram.html but no link back, forcing the visitor to use their browser's "back" button to return to the hellships page.

    oryoku_maru_story.html - Oh, darn! This looks important but I won't be able to read it because I don't have MS Word. (Okay, I have an older version for Mac but it makes a mess out of Word8 for PC.) Why not save it as a plain text file instead? Actually, you say documents (plural) but there is only one link. Or better yet, why not have the text on the site?

    You say these are "informational summaries from the war crimes trial." This appears to be some kind of government legal document. I'd also give it a more descriptive title than "file.doc" so if one downloads it, they have a clue remembering what it is on their hard drive later.

    Where is the original story written by the four survivors? I thought that was going to be the meat of the site but it's not here. Is it a book one can purchase? Link? You've enticed me to want to read their story but I can't find it, so in that sense, the site was a let-down to me.

    The forum takes you off-site to bravenet and it wasn't immediately evident to me that the dogtag image was a link back. Put a "return to" link as well. Can you change the title of that page so it doesn't say Bravenet Web Services? I'd also drop the animated gif link and just go with text.

    Consider having a horizontal row of text links at the bottom of pages or at least a "back to top" link so one does not have to scroll a lot to get back to the navigation.

    Serif fonts like times are harder to read large amounts of text with on a monitor. I'd stick to sans serif.

    I do not think your site looks amateurish at all! I think it looks quite professional.

    I've spent more time at your site than I would with most because I'm the volunteer webmaster for a Korean War veterans group so this is right up my alley. I think it's important that history like this be kept alive so that people never forget the sacrifices that have been made for our freedom.

    Best of luck with your site!

  3. #3
    SitePoint Zealot Rocko's Avatar
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    chickaboom,

    I'm going to give you an overview of the feel and impression of the intro and site, not so much details. Also:
    If you have any questions pertaining to Swish, let me know. I'd be glad to assist you.

    --------------
    Splash Intro
    --------------

    I like it alot. Fact is, I watched it twice in a row. It's short, but delievers a strong message; it made a big impact on me.
    Many intros don't, but yours did. Awesome Job!

    --------------
    Site (index2)
    --------------

    Really Nice. The overall feel seems appropriate for the message. I like the scheme and love how it ties well with the splash intro. Compliments to the top-most frame with the message of,
    "God Bless Those We Have Lost But Not Forgotten"
    That is really important and you want that to stand out, it does. Job well done.


    I want to say: It's Great to know there are still those who
    dedicate themselves to maintaining awareness of events such as these. I give thanks everyday, and I hope my generation doesn't forget the sacrafices that were made for our freedom.

    // -->Rocko

  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    Swish is easy to spot
    Quality, Professional Web Hosting
    www.host-tastic.com

  5. #5
    You talkin to me? Anarchos's Avatar
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    Yep, a bunch of pretty simple tweens.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Enthusiast chickaboom's Avatar
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    JeromeQ - You have given me much to work on!

    I hadn't thought about how the Swish animation would affect indexing. That's a bummer to realize.

    First and foremost I want people searching for info on Oryoku Mau to find the site so I think I will leave that as the first word in the meta tags. People who are searching for WWII sites are secondary. I can get some links from other WWII sites and that will be a good source of visitors - hopefully. And submit it to About.com and such.

    Naturally I'll delete the Coming In May before launching the site. I had to leave that page as is for Web reviews because once I FTP to that page it'll be screwed up and I wanted you to see the animation for the review. For some reason, a bug in Swish I heard, I have to upload and upload and upload (it's mind numbing) until for some unknown reason it decides to work. Definitely I will put in Skip Intro (it's 63k) when I revise it and meta tags.

    Re: thanks for the bookmark. I thought people wouldn't see that unless they did bookmark it. It was on a bookmark that I had for another site and I thought it was nice. I'll delete it.

    Re: saving Oryoku Maru Story as a text file. I don't know how to do it but I will certainly find out!!!! Next to the POW Search it is the very most important thing. It's 12 pages long and the reason why I don't want to put it online is because people don't read 12 pages online. It's too hard on the eyes and people simply aren't inclined to read such long articles online. The printed page is more appropriate. Thank you for checking it because that would have been terrible for visitors to not be able to download it!

    The downloadable informational summary *is* the Oryoku Maru Story compiled by the four survivors. It's not in a book, but from a photocopy pamplet they put together. I will make that more clear.

    I cannot get rid of the Bravenet Services info since it's a freebie message board. The Earthlink guestbook is just as bad and I couldn't decide between gb or message board. I'm not happy with either but I have to pick one.

    JeromeQ - thank your for your review. I will be checking out your site post haste!
    The circle of life

  7. #7
    SitePoint Zealot strangealienmagic's Avatar
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    My impression of the site is that you have just the right degree of emotional impact. It certainly doesn't seem either sterile or amateurish at all - and definitely connects with the viewer! It certainly did with me.

    I agree that the the Oryoku Maru story should be offered as a plain HTML doc, so it's accessible to all visitors. From what I read it's really the core content of the site.

    If possible, install your own forum board. Arriving at the Bravenet board is sort of a shocking departure from the feel of the rest of the site. (I've seen some lively discussions here at Sitepoint as to which board is best, but I would think one of the freebie boards would do nicely.)

    Overall, a really effective job!

    It's amazing how these horrific war stories are lost to succeeding generations. I'm glad you're keeping this one alive.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Enthusiast chickaboom's Avatar
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    Rocko,

    Thank you for the compliments. I wondered it anyone would comment on my cool CSS top frame. I am so proud of it. lol! When I first made it I knew it was the one to keep!

    Re: the intro - I've tested it with a lot of people and have gotten such positive feedback on it. In fact I got so much positve feedback that I almost nearly choked on designing the rest of the site to go with it.

    I give thanks everyday too for the sacrfice of all those men and women in WWII and all the wars. Since making this site it fills my thoughts. We went out shopping for flag poles today! We are buying a flag pole and an American flag for our front yard!!!

    Thanks Rocko. And I may take you up on that Swish help.
    The circle of life

  9. #9
    SitePoint Enthusiast chickaboom's Avatar
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    To xwebdesigner and Anarchos,

    Re: the index page

    True it is only cheap Swish and simple tweens but I cannot afford Flash. I've been asking for it for awhile but haven't gotten it yet. Still, the Swish software is quite adequate for what I wanted to do and the average Joe or Jane doesn't know Swish from Flash - it's all animation to non-techies.

    Some of the Swish stuff I've seen is cute and fun to watch even though it can't do what Macromedia Flash can do. It depends on what the designer makes.
    The circle of life

  10. #10
    SitePoint Enthusiast
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    >>I can get some links from other WWII sites and that will be a good source of visitors - hopefully. And submit it to About.com and such.<<

    I'd consider renaming your "web resources" page to something like "links and resources". Surfers are used to the term "links". Then actively seek out more links from like minded sites. Reciprocal links are important. Why should someone give you a link if you're not willing to give one back? This means being careful to not get too far off-topic with your links. It's a delicate balancing act. One of the best link exchanges I ever made was with a site that specializes in "nose art" reproductions. We get a ton of referrals from them!

    Consider applying to the History Channel Network: http://network.historychannel.com/

    >>Re: thanks for the bookmark. I thought people wouldn't see that unless they did bookmark it.<<

    As it is, that's in the *title* of your site in your html doc. Easy to fix.

    >>Re: saving Oryoku Maru Story as a text file. I don't know how to do it but I will certainly find out!!!!<<

    I believe that in MS Word you would simple go to "save as" and then can select the document type, where "text" should be an option. You can't save any fancy formatting, though. Perhaps offer both text and Word as download options? Only make sure you state what version of Word you're using. (MSWord 8.0 for Windows 98? or whatever? That would let me know it's not a version compatible with my Word 5.1 for Mac, for example.)

    >>Next to the POW Search it is the very most important thing. It's 12 pages long and the reason why I don't want to put it online is because people don't read 12 pages online. It's too hard on the eyes and people simply aren't inclined to read such long articles online. The printed page is more appropriate.<<

    No, I really think it needs to be on your site. Break it down into smaller pages and warn people first how many pages it is. Intersperse images and such to break it up and make it more interesting. But it *needs* to be there. Give visitors the option of a download, but most surfers don't want to download a file they have to open in another program off-line. This is the centerpiece of your site!

    >>I cannot get rid of the Bravenet Services info since it's a freebie message board. The Earthlink guestbook is just as bad and I couldn't decide between gb or message board. I'm not happy with either but I have to pick one.<<

    For the amount of traffic you can expect, at least initially, I'd think a guestbook would be the better option. I'm using one from http://htmlgear.lycos.com/ Not the most elegant solution perhaps, since they put a banner ad on it, but it simplifies things from the programming end.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot Rocko's Avatar
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    I agree with chickaboom, to non-techies, Swish looks as good to them as anything. Besides, you can do some amazing stuff with Swish, and the 2.0 version will be more advanced than ever. If it makes an impact, what difference does it make?

    // -->Rocko
    "If it's taking up my time, then it must be good!" -Rocko

  12. #12
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    The first thing I want to say is that I absolutely loved your site and I'm not easily impressed. You can be assured that you did accomplish your mission. The second is that this review is presented from the viewpoint of a visitor to your site, not a web designers viewpoint.

    Goal accomplished! This site in no way looks amateurish. Your design talent is evident in every aspect of the site.

    I generally detest splash intros because so many, if not most, are so poorly done. Your site is an exception to the norm. I would NOT eliminate it. Do what ever you have to do to make it more search engine friendly and stable! It sets the mood for the whole experience of visiting your site. It is essential. Without it, you would lose the feeling of passion and respect that went into the development of the site. You had me in the palm of your hands with that intro. I knew this site was going to be something I would want to experience. I also don't think that is makes one iota of difference to your audience what program was used to create it.

    I also love your colors and the water graphic is perfect. It doesn't hurt to leave just a little bit to the imagination. I can just imagine a ship sailing on those waters.

    For your target audience, you have achieved just the right balance between respect for the seriousness of your topic and not going off on the deep end of martyrdom. This keeps things light and inspirational. With a subject like this, I'm sure this was no easy feat! Had you presented the topic differently, it could have been downright depressing in which case, people would have exited your site.

    The only time you lose the mood is when going to Bravenet services page. Perhaps someone at this site can give you some good advice on what to do to remedy that. Just look for some way to achieve some semblence of continuity.

    The sailors on that ship as well as all WWII soldiers and their families should feel honored and uplifted by your efforts.

    You should be proud of yourself! I'm sure that you put your heart and soul into this project. It shows!

  13. #13
    SitePoint Enthusiast chickaboom's Avatar
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    Allie. You are really sweet. Thank you so much for writing today. My optimism was somewhat dampened because I expected more reviews than I got and I was just fixin to delete my post and take my toys and go home.

    Guess what. What you saw was not the Bravenet forum. I changed it last night to a BeSeen guestbook. Looks like I'm still striking out there. I can put a nice header in the guestbook but that won't make a huge difference I'm afraid. I really like guestbooks where you can view comments all on one long page and all the free ones (except this BeSeen one) let you keep only 5-20 messages per page. Call me lazy but when I view guestbooks I like the ones that require no click-through. Also the design options are so limited. The only way I can keep the black background on the gb is if I go with white text. I'm not crazy about white text on black background. Seems too depressing or porno-like.

    You say I put my heart into this - Yes I did. Even got bad dreams from reading the content. I read it once and told my mom I am not reading it again.

    Per my mom's request, she did not want the site to be political, or have the martyrdom you refer to. She was really clear that she wanted to separate the Japanese *captors* from the Japanese people whole.

    Nobody mentioned the pop-up window on the index2 page. See the little blue star at the top of the menu? Click on it and it's a verse from Psalms. Maybe that's not a good place for it.

    Thanks again Allie. The rest of my day is going to be great I can tell! My family has said it's a fine site but what do they know? They're FAMILY!
    The circle of life

  14. #14
    SitePoint Enthusiast chickaboom's Avatar
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    To strangealienmagic

    Neat nick. I like it.

    I took the Bravenet forum down and I'm working on a guestbook instead. The site is on Earthlink free Web space so I found out I can't install any CGI. Big bummer.

    And you think I ought to put that big old honkin 12 page document in HTML eh? Hmmm. That makes two people. That's a bit of work we're talking about to make it so it's not torture to read. I'd need more graphics and ALSO I'd still have to have the file available for download for people who want to print it. Those rounded corner tables look pretty on screen but are terrible for printing out.

    I think the site is on the right track based on the feedback here. Just have to work on this darn gb predicament. Thank you so much for your opinion!
    The circle of life

  15. #15
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    Nice to know I did my good deed for the day!

    What ever you do, don't get discouraged over this wonderful site! I can just see it growing. It may surprise you!

    Regarding the Bravenet page, I didn't actually view it today because I had viewed it earlier so didn't know you had changed it. If you can somehow just coordinate the colors, it should be a winner. There is no way a page like that can entirely keep the mood. No one will expect it. Don't sweat it. Just have to come as close as you can. Black text on white wouldn't be bad or perhaps a light gray with black text would work. Others here certainly know better than I how you can make changes. White text on black is awfully hard to read. I would think the key is just to keep the coloring consistent with the rest of your site.

    Regarding the little star, I did click on it and thought it was one of those little surprises that made good use of a popup. You could even change it from time to time with another inspirational picture or message, perhaps from the feedback of someone who visits your site and provides input. Just don't get too mushy, if you know what I mean. On the other hand, you would never miss it if it were not there. This one should get an entirely different reception from your audience because it is not an ad. Everyone hates those.

    Also, don't assume the lack of reviews to this point means lack of interest. I find that Friday is just a bad day for forum responses. Everyone is tired and busy at the end of the week and anxious to head home for some relaxation. Just ask specific questions when you want answers. I have never visited a forum that gave more professional and complete reviews than this one.

    Will definitely visit again to view any changes in your site.

  16. #16
    We like music. weirdbeardmt's Avatar
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    I don't think there's too much to say as most people have already said it.

    The overall layout is good and certainly do not ditch the intro, it makes a good point and made me want to find out more.

    The "An Essay" link didn't make me want to click it (perhaps a little more description) and well, clicked it anwyay and it didn't work!

    Good work - I think it is a fitting tribute.
    I swear to drunk I'm not God.
    Matt's debating is not a crime
    Hint: Don't buy a stupid dwarf Clicky

  17. #17
    SitePoint Enthusiast Sebioni's Avatar
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    Site review

    I like your site : the intro animation is good (you could perhaps do with a bit less text at the beginning of it) and the design is pleasant.

    As far as personal sites go, it is a very good effort.

    For the sake of criticism, I will just say that I would have gone for a different display for headers and subheaders. The fact that everything is centered make the site look a bit more amateurish...

    Well done and good luck.
    Seb

  18. #18
    Non-Member mmi's Avatar
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    let's keep things peaceful in the Pacific

    I'd say this is an excellent site - I'm more of a copyeditor than a web developer, so... on About This Site, could ya go with simply "containing the names listed in The Oryoku Maru Story" and "Provide access to the results of..."? also, at this point, I've never heard of this publication; perhaps this page should be restructured to introduce the book first - on About Us, "I have the comfort, though, of knowing what transpired..." - "...although it may have happened a long time ago, those who never returned did not die in vain..." - "The reality is not the same for me as it is for her." - "I want to do something positive and proactive to preserve the tragic record of what all these courageous men went through." - I'd look to drop that last "accessible" with something like, "It's equally important to all the rest of us." - and then perhaps append the next sentence with a semicolon - in Historical Context, didn't the Phillipines become an American possession as a result of the Span-Amer War? - "able bodied" is typically hyphenated - "...will leave no doubt that this was and will always remain a true characterization." - I'll go through the rest of your text soon - bet ya can't wait - didn't think to click on the star; I guess you should try to do something with it - I thought your film was very good - fwiw, you can get Flash free for thirty days - you won't need to reshoot this (it looks fine), but you can have fun foolin' around! - I guess my last point would be one that I don't want people to misunderstand - my family has suffered from war - I feel very strongly that we need to hold our elected representatives responsible for developing and implementing a foreign policy that can preclude such outcomes - war is hell, everywhere it takes place

  19. #19
    SitePoint Enthusiast chickaboom's Avatar
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    MMI!

    I am so lucky you reviewed our site. Amazing what changing a few words does. I could see that your suggestions would definitely sharpen things up. I think a fresh eye helps. I value your opinion greatly and I appreciate that you bothered to not only visit but read the text so closely.

    Re: the essay. If you indeed follow through and read any other pages, please don't bother with the Essay because actually that's a letter my mom wrote to my boy so I would not change a word of it.

    You are right about how I need to clarify where The Oryoku Maru Story came from. Well, it's not a book. It was a photocopied pamplet that the four survivors (and a fifth man) actually compiled themselves, (summary of legal proceedings, detail of the defendents, and the list of 1600 names). They were selling them to raise money for a memorial but the memorial would break your heart to see. Not much to look at. My mom has someone who sent her a pic which she's sending to me, but she says it a great disappointment. A small gun from the Oryoku Maru mounted somewhere in Manila. Before he died Mr. Brown tried to get it mounted on a base, but was told he couldn't. Somehow I'd like to remedy that someday. Back to topic - it was pure luck that my mom got herself a copy of the OMS during her research. She's had it since '89 and has fielded emails from many family members who wanted her to check her list for someone they know.

    Re: Flash - currently I'm in dire straits with my movie page. I cannot get my movie to upload. I didn't know that most free Web hosts don't allow movies to be FTP'd. Last night I signed up for Crosswinds and Angelfire to see if it would upload there and it doesn't. Gettin stressed because it'll break my heart to leave out the movie.

    To Sebioni,

    You know, when I first made the rounded corner table I didn't realize I could put more tables inside to avoid all the centering. lol! Too late now. I want to get the site done and off my mind. If ever I revise it I will
    change that for sure, but for now it's more important to get the content online. My mom is receiving emails on the topic as I write!

    Thank you!
    The circle of life

  20. #20
    Non-Member mmi's Avatar
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    "I feel like I owe it to someone"

    You're quite welcome - I meant to say (sometimes I forget) that those edits are suggestions only - granted, some of them may be valid "corrections," but often there's more than one way to communicate a thought - I know what you're up against with your interest in an appropriate memorial; I grew up on a Naval Air Station and found that base administrators can be somewhat "inflexible" - my only suggestion would be to get "pressure" groups involved - I'd start with vet orgs - when you get some noise and interest from bigshots, go to the media and politicians - I don't see how people can say these guys don't deserve it - along those lines, you might be able to get a vet group to help you pay for the cost of hosting the site on a server that allows for film links - you might even be able to develop a useful database or bulletin board for families - just an idea


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