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  1. #1
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Smile Gaming Fansite Redesign (Strategic Command Center)

    Hey,

    I have been working on this redesign for almost a year, and I am finally planning on releasing it most likely this month. But before I do, I'd like to get any last minute suggestions/critique etc from the members of SCC.

    The site is a fansite for Strategy PC Games, focusing mainly on Civilization 4 and the Total War series. The logic of the site is that the home page is the center, from there you can click the tabs on the banner to go to each game for its specific content.

    Please keep in mind usability, the layout, design, etc.

    http://www.stratcommandcenter.com/redesign4
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"

  2. #2
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Btw, I should probably mention some of my 'competitors' or sister-sites which are focused on the same subject - just fill the spaces between the letters:

    www. civ fan at ics .com
    www. tw ce nt er .com
    rtw. he aven gam es .com
    www. a poly ton .com
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"

  3. #3
    Non-Member Egor's Avatar
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    • Operating System: OS X Tiger (10.4.6)
    • User Agent: Safari 2.03
    • Screen Resolution: 1024x768
    • Connection: Dial-up equivalent



    Hi,

    Overall, it looks fine to me. The loading time is excellent. With that said, there are a number of smaller issues that bug me:

    Typography
    Throughout the site, you use: Gill Sans, Verdana, Arial, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, Myriad. This is far too many! As a general rule, you should never go above three, unless you can either justify a the larger amount, or the nature of a project specifically calls for "type soup".

    I sit down and take a serious look at your type, removing anything unnecessary. If you don't have a good reason for having, say, Arial in the upper right block on the Index page (where Verdana is used for pretty much everything else but the titles), drop it.

    Pick a couple of fonts—one for titles and another for the content—and use them consistently throughout. Why not attempt to maintain that 'aged' look and feel by taking a Serif face beyond the header.

    Scalability
    On the Index page, if I bump up the text-size even once, the content in the "Recent Discussions" box disappears. It is understandable that keeping a flexible height on elements such as your header navigation isn't easy, but why use a fixed-height on your boxes and side-bar titles?

    Anchors
    Again, there are far too many colours and styles.

    • Why does the right side-bar have under-lined links but not the left one?
    • Why are the links in the Welcome/Recent Discussion boxes darker than those in the box directly underneath them?
    • Why are certain links bold but not others?


    I'll also suggest that you make your logo a link to the Index page. It's common practice these days and many visitors are used to it.

    Egor
    Last edited by Egor; Jul 24, 2006 at 04:29.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Member philwill4u's Avatar
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    I quite liked your site. As a Civ owner from the very first game to todays, I was extremely motivated even before I visited to the site.

    Your use of colours is fitting with the core game and similar off shoots. They compliment each other (brown hues). Graphics are clean and crisp. Fonts - I must agree - try reducing the number you use.

    Links... need to be consistent with the decoration.

    Wording - the wording that introduces the site and what its about, could be more focused. 'High quality coverage' for example, doesn't really tell me much - is it about reviews, latest news, forums etc.

    Hope this helps.... overall a good site that would benefit from some minor tweaks.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Thank you for the great reply Egor, wouldn't have expected less. As for the typography, your right... I find myself having great trouble sticking with one, since there are several I like alot.

    I think I might stick with the Georgia as is for the navigation, since the style fits well, then Arial for headers and verdana for text everywhere else (excluding the banner, which should stay the same I think).

    EDIT: Just noticed a problem.. seems my fonts are more tangled then I thought. I would definitely be able to shrink down the site's typography from the others just to Verdana and Arial, BUT I doubt I will be able to find consistancy with what will be for headings and what will be for text as I just thought. For example, most of our pages like this have Arial as the heading AND as the text. The only place where there is Verdana is on the links around the site and in the front page news, etc. Is this logically ok?

    Also:
    Why not attempt to maintain that 'aged' look and feel by taking a Serif face beyond the header.
    You are saying to use a font like the "Strategic Command Center" in the banner for my other regular page headers? Not sure what other fonts which are good for the web are available that look like that. Would you know of any?

    As for scalability, good point, I never noticed that. I'd have to make some more fundamental changes to the whole structure for that to happen unfortunately.. I'm definitely going to have to do something about it though.

    And the anchors will be changed shortly.

    @ philwill4u, thanks for the comments and welcome to Sitepoint! So you have Civ4? How do you like it? Btw, when you first entered the site, did you notice the news section at all? Thats what I am fearing with this design is that the news might just be completely overlooked since you will have to scroll a bit. About the wording, I agree, I should iron that out.
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"

  6. #6
    Night Elf silver trophybronze trophy Varelse's Avatar
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    I remember your thread with asking for feedback for the header design.
    And it's almost perfect now The image is excellent - adding the worn-out effect was a great idea and I think you've just nailed the subject.

    You could make the "Strategic Command Center" a little bigger, and probably pure white should be replaced with other color.
    Eger is 100% right with his comment about the fonts. Pick 3 and stick to them.
    Leave the "Strategic Command Center", as it's classic one and matching the theme very well, pcik the second for headings and 3rd for the body. I'd try Trebuchet for this, as it's less "technical" than Verdana.
    Do not use such a modern font as you have now for "Featured Games" and 2 featured Game Sites banners. They don't seem to work well with your classic design.

    I'd work on colors a bit more. The general look is OK (very nice background pattern for side columns), but some of them have olive, some beige and some orange shade - I's try to make them more consistent. Especially the orangeish main column background requires tweaking, as it doesn't match the color scheme of the whole site.

    Also work on the bolded text colors - you have dark orange/red and dark blue - they aren't the perfect selection either.

    Very nice work
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  7. #7
    Non-Member Egor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amirsan
    For example, most of our pages like this have Arial as the heading AND as the text. The only place where there is Verdana is on the links around the site and in the front page news, etc. Is this logically ok?
    Using two sans-serifs is generally not a good idea. Do you absolutely need to have both Arial and Verdana?

    Quote Originally Posted by Amirsan
    You are saying to use a font like the "Strategic Command Center" in the banner for my other regular page headers? Not sure what other fonts which are good for the web are available that look like that. Would you know of any?
    You have Georgia, Times and Palatino to work with. All three are available on Windows and OS X. You could also try using:
    Code:
    font-variant: small-caps;
    Oh, if you decide to use Trebuchet as Arthur has suggested, please do us Mac people a favour by specifying Lucida Grande in front of the font-family. Trebuchet looks horrible anti-aliased at smaller sizes.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Egor, I was just attempting to take a look at my fonts.. which may take more time then I thought, but it seems that you are suggesting that I use a style almost identical to this site:

    http://aoe3 . he aven ga mes .com (fill in the blanks)

    Am I right? Look at their pages under "Game Info" in the left column.
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"

  9. #9
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Varelse
    I remember your thread with asking for feedback for the header design.
    And it's almost perfect now The image is excellent - adding the worn-out effect was a great idea and I think you've just nailed the subject.

    You could make the "Strategic Command Center" a little bigger, and probably pure white should be replaced with other color.
    Eger is 100% right with his comment about the fonts. Pick 3 and stick to them.
    Leave the "Strategic Command Center", as it's classic one and matching the theme very well, pcik the second for headings and 3rd for the body. I'd try Trebuchet for this, as it's less "technical" than Verdana.
    Do not use such a modern font as you have now for "Featured Games" and 2 featured Game Sites banners. They don't seem to work well with your classic design.

    I'd work on colors a bit more. The general look is OK (very nice background pattern for side columns), but some of them have olive, some beige and some orange shade - I's try to make them more consistent. Especially the orangeish main column background requires tweaking, as it doesn't match the color scheme of the whole site.

    Also work on the bolded text colors - you have dark orange/red and dark blue - they aren't the perfect selection either.

    Very nice work
    Hi Varelse, thanks for the reply! Maybe I should replace the pure white to silver, like the banner text in the site that I showed Egor above in the post before this one?

    For the game featured, good idea, I might just copy the same font I used for the main site banner.

    As for color, well yes, this (and fonts) is what I have the MOST problems when designing this site. I can't seem to get the right mix. What color would you suggest for the center column?

    As for the headings and h3 headings, which are dark orange, you dont think this is a good pick? I thought of it because its noticeable.

    I am the worst when it comes to colors! lol
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"

  10. #10
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    The site is completely broken for me on safari (version 2.0.4). I attached a screenshot.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  11. #11
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Hey dbirider,

    I can't see your screenshot.
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"

  12. #12
    Non-Member Egor's Avatar
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    Amir, yes, kind of. It makes sense to use a serif font for headings on your site. You want to maintain the 'aged' feel throughout, as I said earlier -- not just in the header. Personally, I would have gone with Georgia or Palatino for the main content as well, but that's just me.

    This brings me to another suggestion I forgot to mention. Your borders around the boxes and columns are a bit too dark. This, I feel is taking away from the mood you set with the header. Lighten 'em up a little!

  13. #13
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Ok, I am working out some changes.
    Last edited by Amirsan; Aug 23, 2006 at 00:21.
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"

  14. #14
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Guys, I just updated the body text to Trebuchet, I have to say I like the change, looks more livlier:

    http://civ.stratcommandcenter.com/general/history/
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"

  15. #15
    SitePoint Guru dojo's Avatar
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    I really love the way the main site looks. very nice. But then I go to the forums and I'm dissapointed. You need to try put the same design elements in the forums too. They look like a default IPb and it's a pity not to use that nice desing on them too.

  16. #16
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dojo
    I really love the way the main site looks. very nice. But then I go to the forums and I'm dissapointed. You need to try put the same design elements in the forums too. They look like a default IPb and it's a pity not to use that nice desing on them too.
    Hi dojo,

    Thanks! I appreciate your comments. I completely agree with you 100% about the forums. I am too dissapointed - I know that we are losing many potential members because of its tacky design. Though I am not very well experienced at all (or have the time) to work with IPB templates, so we are raising money to get a very talented designer to design it for us. It will have the same banner as it has now, but a new color scheme, buttons, etc that will fit the theme.
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"

  17. #17
    SitePoint Guru Amirsan's Avatar
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    Ok, I have made some changes.

    I have changed the content pages font to Trebuchet. However, I can't find a better font for the menus and the main page... I mean, as far as I know, verdana looks the best in its small fonts. I will also consider changing the headings to Georgia if I can find the right variation.

    As for the banner, I made the text bigger, but I am not sure what you mean Varelse about a different color. And for the center content color, what color would you suggest?

    Btw, as for the borders on the boxes, I will try that. Also, I have added several ads around the site, let me know if they fit well.
    Strategic Command Center

    "What's a small napoleon and where would i find one"


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