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  1. #1
    Non-Member canadaka's Avatar
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    [Critique] Canadaka.net

    Hello all, first time posting in the reviews forum, its pretty cool, I like looking at some new site designs.

    So I figured I had might as well get some reviews and critiques on my site, i am always looking for ways to improve it.

    My site is not a new site, thats for sure. It has existed in some shape or forum since sometime in 1998. Since then I have slowly built it up and now its become a fairly large site, both in content and visitors.

    The site is Canada Kicks *** www.canadaka.net

    Canada Kicks *** or CKA is a site to promote Canadian pride and show the world why Canada Kicks ***! A Canadian content portal offering news, pictures, jokes, downloads, shopping and Canadian babes! Canadaka.net also has one of the largest and most active Canadian forums on the internet that welcomes all!
    Over the years the site has had dozens of different designs, but the current one has been more or less simular for most of this year. I actualy just added 60 custom header graphics that are randomly displayed.

    The Forums of the site have a slighly different look, a little more streamlined, but msot of the forum features you will not see unless logged into the site.

    So anyway have at it, pick er apart!

    The site looks better with no ads, which is what I and Gold Members see, but its the fact of the internet, need to pay for costs somehow.

    Thanks for your time.

  2. #2
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    Well, this is the kind of website I dont like: with a lot of disorganized contents, where you fill absolutly lost like a peasant who arrived for the first time into the big city. Even worther than Yahoo...

  3. #3
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    What a bloody mess. You may aswell have gouged my eyes out, parachuted me into a foreign land and told be to make my way home by sunset.

    Sorry for the bluntness of the comment, but all I see is a confusing mess of links, garish graphics and crappy ads. Whats the purpose of the site? How do I go about finding any information? Why would I want to give it more than 2 seconds of my time?

    I'm sure there is content in there, probably some very good content, but I just cant be arsed to work out how to find it.


  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    This site actually does a good job of packing a lot of information into little space.

    Unfortunately, that isn't entirely a good thing, it leads to the clutter and information overload referenced above. Also, some things seem to overlap incorrectly in Firefox, the cornucopia is obstructing the poll question and the rollover text on the ads near the top drift out of their white boxes.

    It would seem like this could look better with some (any!) empty space. Right now, it's information overload.
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  5. #5
    Non-Member canadaka's Avatar
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    thanks for the comments, wow.. a bit harsher than I had expected. Its the struggle with a large site with so much content, how to oganise it and make it accessable and noticealbe without being to confusing. I really don't know what else to do, and what you see now is vast improved from previous navigation.

    I personaly think it works ok.

    The main Horizontal menu is broken up into large categories, with drop down menus to key areas under thoser categories. The main "tree" menu on the left of the site has links to most sections of the site.

    How else could I organise it? its using a hierarchy system. I would not say the site is disorganised, just too much info to present.

    garish graphics and crappy ads
    I don't think the graphics are garish and no one hsa ever made any complaints over the past 6 years. The ads are crappy and i hate them, but its the fact of the internet that bandwdith csots money and has to be paid for somehow. Gold members of the site get an ad-free site, its much nicer and faster loading. I attached a screenshot of the site with ads disabled.

    the cornucopia is obstructing the poll question and the rollover text on the ads near the top drift out of their white boxes.
    Yah it was, was just a grphic there over the weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving) its gone now.

    Whats the purpose of the site?
    Whats the purpose of any site? most sites don;t have a big "this is our purpose" text on there front-page. I do sometimes display that on the front-page though, in a rotation with other stuff. There is an about page, and the name pretty much tells a visitor that its a pro-Canadian site of some sort. I have been thinking about making some quick flash videos to show new visitors the features and areas of the site. And make a proper introduciton page for them.


    I appretiate the comments and have worked a lot of the years to make the front-page of the site less crowded, but most the comments were negative and offered no advice or guidance... so i guess that would have ben nice to invluded with negative remarks.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
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    Check out some news websites from the major media companies like your herald or sun and see how they do it. They pack TONS of information in without ... losing the browser...

  7. #7
    Non-Member canadaka's Avatar
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    when i look at sites like www.canada.com , www.cnn.com www.msn.com only thing majorly different I see is the search. I do have a site searhc, but its way down the left side of the site. Maybe I should incormporate the search into the top of the site.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    I hope I didn't sound unnecessarily negative, I'll try to be a bit more clear as to nudge my comments into the "constructive" category. Also, I'll mention that your site seems to have a good bit to offer... there is a fair amount of information in your site and much it doesn't look totally feed driven.

    I think you could make a positive improvement by switching up your menus.

    The left-hand menu has over a dozen choices, some of which also have subfolders. It's just too much, and some of the choices don't make sense. For example, "Discussions" is immediately followed by "Forums". What? Then there's "Content", why isn't "jokes" in there? What goes in "more stuff"? "Info" about what? It's confusing to someone looking at your site for the first time.

    I would suggest going with one of two approaches: apple.com or fark.com. Ignore the specific look of each those sites, I'm going after a basic concept from each. Apple has a million subpages in a variety of topics, but includes at most 3 concepts on the main page: often just one. When you click on one of 7 header tabs, there will be another 7-10 contextual tabs available, getting you to any of 70 categories in 2 clicks. Fark has a number of ads and categories but primarily streams them down the side columns providing a clear list of news items that is the real focus of the site.

    My instinctive suggestion would be to parse the menu into 5-7 main topics, like the menu you currently have in the header. Rename "content", that heading means nothing. Move the header menu down so it replaces the black bar with the viva la canada stuff. Completely remove the side menu. Create a flow of dominant items down the center of the page.

    But really, there are any number of ways to go about formatting the page. More whitespace is what I'm thinking would improve the look.
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  9. #9
    Non-Member canadaka's Avatar
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    Thanks for replying, your comment was alright, you started of with something positive and constructive.
    None of the content is feed driven, its all member submitted and content made by myself and other members. (except the sports scores).

    Yah the tree menu on the left is a bit confusing, Just not sure the best way to sort things, one thing i was looking for input on. I don't know if i have the time to impiment a tab based nav system like apple.com, plus i kinda like being abelt to get to most places from one spot, and might be plus for search engine spiders. Thats why I went with the tree menu. But I can definatly condense and rework the tree menu.

    I'm not sure what I could replace the word "content" with. And I also use that work because its one of my main keywords so i want it to show up lots for the spiders.

    I also don't know what to do with regards to more white space. I changed the site to a mostly light/white color sceme to make it look more open. A lot of the content is only shown on the front-page, like all the recent blocks. Recent reviews, pics, jokes. Meant so a visitor can come to the page and quicly see if there is anything new.

    But you gave me an idea.... Maybe checking to see if stuff is new is something a return visitor who has registered as member sould do. SO maybe I should disable all the recent blocks to guests/annonoumos visitors. That would cut down on a lot of stuff. just like some of the stuff is no longer visible once you login (link to us, Link Xchange, ext)

    Move the header menu down so it replaces the black bar with the viva la canada stuff.
    Why do you recommend this? just curious as to the reasoning

    I will work on that stuff now, here are 2 new stat pages I added recently
    http://www.canadaka.net/modules.php?...&file=topbabes
    http://www.canadaka.net/modules.php?...nks&file=stats

  10. #10
    Non-Member canadaka's Avatar
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    On the front-page I made the "Recently comments pics", Hockey scores and forum surveys only visible to registered members as well as removed the "total Site Hits" and "Guest map" boxes.

    disabled all the content and information shown in the "User Info" box when not logged in.

    Also the front-page used to show Max 7 days or 50 news links, for non-registered users I have lowered this number to make the page not as tall, and less database queries.

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard samsm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by canadaka
    Why do you recommend this? just curious as to the reasoning
    Just one way to create space. Also the top menu is very crowded between ads and in the black bar below I think if you were to give the viva text enough padding, you'd find the bar to be too large for its purpose. Oh yeah, I think you need to give the text more padding in the black bar, that's one item guilty of crowding things up.

    Is "content" as a keyword valuable for you? Are there people looking up "Canadian content" and getting to your site? I'm generally ignorant on the topic, but I can't imagine using "content" as a search term in any context where I'd want to get to your site.
    Using your unpaid time to add free content to SitePoint Pty Ltd's portfolio?

  12. #12
    SitePoint Addict Green Beast's Avatar
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    Too much for me, too. Waaay too much. I though Canada was more open and pristine. Your site doesn't convey Canada to me. So while it may kick ***, I didn't stay long enough to learn how or why.

    I had a really crappy website for years (for one company that I own). Two people mentioned it in the seven or so years it was up (I redid the site and it's gone over very well... it has copious amounts of content.) Most people won't speak up. I'm not sure why you're asking for reviews, but the information you're getting is golden and as truthful as you'll get anywhere. I'd be very open to it, even if you disagree with some of the comments becuase it's those comments none of your users will likely share. If they don't like your site they'll leave and never come back. Simple.

    To disagree with many of these comments is as foolish as trying to convince your doctor that being an overweight smoker (not that you are) is healthy and that's he's wrong... all because you feel great now.

    In a nutshell, it's time for a re-work. Organize from the ground up. It may be time.
    Sorry to be negative.

    Mike

  13. #13
    Non-Member canadaka's Avatar
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    I Guess i just don't share the same views, I am very open with my site members and visitors they give lots of feedback. I don't find the fron-site overly crowded. The front-page is a news portal, looking at other news portals its about the same openness.

    I don't disagree with everything, I have already made some changes from this thread, i guess people just reading it now can't really see those changes.

    Naturaly people not interested in Canada or not Canadian won't give the site much time, probably ould never visit it, its not meant for them.

    I am going to look into possibly going with a tabular navigation system, with the secondary tabs/links dependant on what section the suer is in.

    Also soon i am going to get rid of one of the banner ads, it was just there for awhile to pay of a deficit from the previous month

  14. #14
    SitePoint Enthusiast reedy's Avatar
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    Hi

    Well I like the colour scheme. The site comes across overal as welcoming, however there simply is too much information there.

    Off the top of my head I would suggest losing almost everything to the left and below of the Canadain Daily News Links. If you dont think the Canadian Daily News Links is important enough to take up so much space, then lose that and replace it with something else.

    The menu and login boxes need to be moved up the page and made more prominent.

    I would say sit and look at your page. Consider what are the most important items on that index page and have only them displayed. Polish the navigation and people can then find what they are interested in rather than having everything thrown in their faces!

    I think the site is a great idea, and wish you all the best of luck.

  15. #15
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    There is alot of things goin on in your website, I think a redesign would be in your best interest. I would suggest a color scheme, and a dynamic layout as well. Good luck

  16. #16
    Non-Member canadaka's Avatar
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    I would suggest a color scheme
    what do you mean? the site has a colour sceme, Red and White with black.
    It will always be Red and white because those are the colours of Canada. And black is a good inbetwen. Tried blue forawhile, but then looks to American.

    I don't know when i will have ample time to redu the entire navigation system, but do you think that scrapping the main tree menu on the left and just making a larger horizontal menu on the top would be better?

  17. #17
    Non-Member canadaka's Avatar
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    UPDATE
    www.canadaka.net

    I am reviving an old thread, but I thought it was better than starting a new one.

    In late July I did a complete make-over of my sites design, I cept in mind some of the comments I received here. I think the new design is much nicer, more open and easier to navigate.

    It still is confusing to new comers I know, but I think its better than its ever been for.

    I did away with the 2 menu system, and now the entire navigation is contained in the horizontal drop down menu.

    There is alot of things goin on in your website, I think a redesign would be in your best interest. I would suggest a color scheme, and a dynamic layout as well. Good luck
    The new colour scheme is very simplistic and there is more spacing between sections. The layout is also more dynamic than ever. guests, members, and donating members all see slightly different layouts.

    additionaly each section of the site has a different configuration of side blocks, it is very customizable.

    -----

    Comments on the new look of the site would be much appreciated!

  18. #18
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    My views on Canadaka.net

    Well since I'm Canadian I already like your domain. I like the soft colours of the site and find that the colours goes well with the entire site, and you make the ads blend in nicely .

    I haven't read all the reviews but people have commented on that the site is very cluttered. My initial thoughts when I visited the site was that I too found it very cluttered and information overload. But now that I have been jumping from page to page it is actually not to bad at all. I like how the you designed your layout, you definitely had in mind you are attracting repeat visitors not just one time viewers. So your stickyness is good.

    I use opera brower and have no complaints with anything in that aspect. I also enjoy the flash drop down menus.

    Nice site and awesome page rank!

  19. #19
    Non-Member canadaka's Avatar
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    thank you for the comments. Actualy the drop down menus are not flash, CSS with a little javascript. I will have to check out the site in Opera again, I am sure there is some small layout bugs with Opera, thanks for reminding me about that.

  20. #20
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    No problem man - and check your email


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