I've been working on a site that is a social network for business listings. It's like your yellow pages, but everything is submitted by users. You need to become an "expert" of the city you know about before you can start adding listings. As well, you can review, rate, edit, and favorite all the listings.
I was aiming for a simple, but not too simple design. I was thinking craigslist meets a paintbrush.
Review the navigation through the site. Pretend your trying to find a restaurant in the city.
Review the search box. The search box searches for tags that are associated with listings. So, if a restaurant is tagged "mexican food" that restaurant will come up in an AJAX drop down menu. Try searching "mexican food" and you'll see what I mean.
Try it in different browsers. I don't have IE7, so I'd like to hear some functionality in there.
The first thing I'd focus on is whitespace. As it stands, the page seems pretty pushed together. There's not much distance between your right hand column and your central content column.
I'd recommend trying to space things out more, as well as playing with padding and line spacing. The site does seem to expand well with font size increases.
Also I'd want to see what happens when you kill those hr type lines for separation. I think that the grouping of the header and the text will still show for the relation, without the distraction of the line.
I agree with chris_fuel, a bit more whitespace could do wonders here. Besides that, the "no image, add one" image could be better, the text looks pretty bad (it seems done with MS Paint). The other thing I'm not sure about is the lime header on the right, I don't think that red-lime-blue is a good combination, but that's just my opinion.
The name is pretty poor. Unpronouncable. You won't be getting it mentioned on radio much, and if you do, no-one will spell it correctly!
As instructed I tried to navigate to a restaurant. There was nothing obvious in the navigation that led me to one but several spins of my mouse scroll wheel revealed some restaurant links at the bottom.
Initially when the page loaded I saw some text telling me about Madison. Good, I thought, then a ruddy great picture appeared and pushed the interesting text that had caught my eye, down the page (I'm on a data card in a laptop).
"craigslist meets a paintbrush"
That's the best line I have read in a forum in a very long time!
Hey, unlike these guys I really like your site design, it's simple and to the point. Seems very professional and business like. I think you can appeal to the pro user and the novice user as well. I also like the domain you have chosen, in today's online environment it's very difficult to find a good name, but I like the way you have thought outside the box to get a good name. However, I am a young user that understands web 2.0. depending on your market you may have trouble connected to an older crowd with that domain name.
I think as long as your technology holds up you have a chance at a successful site, right now your site just seems to needs more users and cities. I'll keep an eye on it!
thanks goatsboy. I wanted world.com, but you can imagine it was taken. The name was an issue for a while for reasons brought up already, but the name won't matter if people find the site worth their time. One of my favorite sites is del.iciou.us. Now that's a name.
For razor, the images have bothered me. It makes a clutter feel. I think I'm going to remove them from that part of the page.
the site looks really good!
i like the design, its really clean!
maybe you can make the "W1RLD.com - Your City, Your Community, Your World " or at least the W1RLD.com a link back to the homepage? i find myself sometimes trying to click on that while navigating your site. hihihi
I like the concept, but you have several design issues,
I don't like how to browse places, instead it might be easier to have a drop down menu of cities and then an option below this that was a map where the state hovers a certain color as the cursor goes over it - something like this.
I would increase your logo size to help brand your website and also work on making your menu stand out a little more (the blue doesn't really work all that well in my opinion).
If you're going to keep the current homepage format then you have to add photos yourself. It looks terrible having a site that is empty of content, and this includes all your subpages. Add at least SOME content or people will leave and never come back.
I think the whole website looks a little squashed up, as chris_fuel said.
I have some suggestions on the website though:
Make the background for the main content area slightly darker, right now it hardly stands out from the main white background.
Change the search box so it doesn't always clear the search whenever you click in it. I tried to type something, made a typo and tried to select it with the mouse, and then it cleared the whole search box!
btw, if I search 'mexican', it doesn't come up with any results, only if I search 'mexican food'. Is this meant to happen?
As for the idea of the website, I think it's great! I'd love to use it if it ever goes international and starts covering where I live I'm not so adventurous when going out, so it would be great to know what other people think about particular places, and it would be very easy to discover new places to visit.
I'd like to offer some comments on your W1RLD site. As I'm a n00b to the web development world, I'll ignore technical features and attributes and focus on content and presentation.
In general, I think you have an interesting and engaging idea and a fairly accessible website in the sense that one can get around, form a mental map of the site, and formulate an understanding of its contents. I particularly like the idea of employing wiki functionality, as the whole notion of distributed user participation resonates with me. Wiki-like structures offer a great medium for remote, group problem-solving. (As an aside, I've been thinking of incorporating a wiki page into an energy policy website I've been planning. Is the combination of conventional and wiki websites common?)
I also appreciate the simplicity of the presentation. I don't really like flashy, whizzy, noisy sites, as I usually enter a site with a particular objective and clear out as soon as I've accomplished it, and the common do-dads merely distract and annoy me. (I'm a difficult consumer.)
I do have some constructive comments in regard to your text and presentation. In reference to your home page, as I noted, I like the simplicity. And, I notice that you employ the key block space to offer your reader a summary introduction of what the site is all about. However, I find the message to be oblique and not directly to the point, and therefore somewhat distracting. I'll try to explain myself.
In literal terms, w1rld is a website. It's a website that shares user-donated information about features of included cities. It's an information exchange system. But, as written, the first sentence -- the sentence occupying the position of "topic sentence" -- immediately sets up a slight ambiguity and therefore a tension. We (or I) don't quite know what "it" is... but we know what it is about. Relying on subsequent information, the reader can conclude that w1rld is an information sharing network, but must do a little extra work to reach that conclusion. Rather than resolving the tension in the subsequent content, you take the explanation to a further level of abstraction, telling us that w1rld is a restaurant or a hotel or even a jogging experience, when actually, it is an information-sharing experience. Of course, the reader will realize you're using a figure of speech, and will be able to figure out what the page does. (It organizes and shares information about an entity; it isn't that entity.) However, that process of momentarily pausing and "figuring out" takes time and energy; unnecessary ambiguities definitely create inefficiencies.
Rather than an oblique approach to this introductory text, I would suggest an active approach that tells the reader exactly what the site does. The document should almost take the readers' hands and walk them down the merry path, step by step (yet not be patronizing or condescending). In this regard, I would recommend using a strong topic sentence at the beginning of the block, something like (but better I hope), "W1RLD is a site where users can find and share information about the kind features of their favorite cities," or some similar statement. A good topic sentence summarizes and forecasts a paragraph, and usually offers a transition from or conceptual link to the document as a whole or the preceding paragraph. All that and it should be succinct, too. It's a very important sentence that occupies a very important position in the document flow. (Offhand, I would even consider slightly enhancing the font, maybe increasing it by a small measure, sort of visually treating it as a bi-line; I wonder how it would look that way.) Subsequent sentences should expand upon and develop that topic sentence.
In general, I would suggest a more active approach to writing than you've employed. (Generally, these are easy fixes.) For instance, rather than using the expletive, "there is a stadium," I would write, "Madison's stadium is...." or something like that. I think that active structures might be even more important in a sales context.
Further, I would try to make sentence structure more effective in other ways. One important function of each sentence is to relate itself to the previous sentence. That is, the writer must be sure that readers understand the relationship between a sentence they are reading and the last sentence they read. Usually that link is implicit, but it has to be there. In reference to the Madison page, note these two sentences: "On game days the downtown area will be full of the school's colors, red and white. If you like to have a good time, Madison has a an array of bars in the area." The second sentence implicitly introduces a topic change, even though the topic was already about having a good time. So, what does, "if you want to have a good time" really mean? Maybe something like, "And, if you like to have a drink after the game," or something like that. (Technically, the "And" is a coordinating conjunction, as it were, and shouldn't start a sentence. However, practically, it looks and reads well and writers commonly use the construction.) Also, your sentence structures are a little repetitive. You might want to revise them to make them less "list-like." (Notice length and cadence.)
(BTW, usually I won't comment on content. But, in this case I'll note that the ordinary non-drinker, female, or grammarian might not be especially impressed that Madison is a "a drinking mans town." Audience analysis is a key step in planning an effective reader-based doc.)
And, in regard to grammar and text, I would highly recommend (to anyone) a competent proof-reader. During the writing process, one reads and rereads and revises and rerevises 10,000 times. After the first few readings, punctuation and spelling errors become sentient beings and make themselves invisible, but ONLY TO YOU, the writer. To everyone else, they become shiny, bulging zits. I'll give you a hint: I see two possessive conflicts in the first "Madison" paragraph, in addition to the one quoted above.
Finally, I want to comment briefly on the visual presentation of the home page. To my eye, the block sort of flows out of the "box" on the lower, right side. My eye begs for some sort of visual, spatial closure. The tremendous negative space below the page is made especially apparent by its spatial connection to the large negative space in the main block, again to the lower right. And, the subtle but distinguishable difference in hue between the two columns introduces a spatial ambiguity. I had to look twice, but I'm sure I discern a faint break. Again, it's a bit of communicative friction, but not the end of the world.
Well, I hope these comments help. I appreciate all the help this forum has offered to me, so I hope I can return the favors in this way.
thanks guys for all your reviews. I've done some work on it. I fixed the search box. Now if your search isn't found, it will try to find a close match. This way if you search "mexican" it will suggest "mexican food" and "mexican restaurants." As well, I made the right side bar more organized. I added DHTML box hovers that will hopefully add a nice effect, but all keep the clean layout without all the text. thanks and more reviews are welcome.
Your site is becoming more "accessible" and inviting. For one, it meets my friend's "three-click rule." If he doesn't find what he wants in three clicks he's on to another site. (A highly literate gent who tends towards information and ideas that are substantial... even when merely shopping.) The home page is self-contained, all above the fold (unlike mine, which is unfortunately too long). I'm guessing that you'll be filling up the space to the lower right with more "Our biggest networks." Is that right?
BTW, I think perhaps Farrhead has a point in regard to the green. Step back 15-25 feet from your monitor and look for balance. A doc author or artist can use balance and lack of balance to accomplish this or that objective (same with negative space). Whatever the choice is, though, I prefer to make it consciously.
The text looks better, more active. I'm wondering if you want an article before that "community yellow pages," like "...a community yellow pages" or if you intend it to be read as is. Also, the
Am I also right in thinking that you trying to reach users with monitors set to 800px resolution and that you're using a fixed width structure. This makes me wonder: in the future, do you plan to make this site accessible to mobile phones? It seems like a perfect application of that possibility. (But, my noob understanding is that such accessibility requires flexible widths.)
In regard to the "Our features" block, a couple of observations. Are you resolved to using a command-like sentence structure? An alternative (that is not necessarily better but worth considering) is something like "you can... (do this or that)." Also, you might think of a modifier before "local businesses," since it makes the point a little more clear, and you use them below. Eg., "Add your favorite..."
And, the sentence "There's no reason to not come to Madison" is problematic for two reasons. Firstly, it's a double-negative that is awkward to read and process. Secondly, it makes you sound ambivalent about Madison. I get this message, "Well, it might not be that great, but there's no reason not to visit."
In that same regard, by the way, perhaps you could broaden your appeal. For instance, I'm completely bored with sports. When I think of Madison, I think of the intellectual climate. (The association goes way back... to where I don't know.) Or I think of Aldo Leopold (who taught at the U.) Or, I think about the Forest Service research facilities. Or, the great prairies (that Leopold loved). And... I've never been to Madison, but if I went on my own accord (ie. not for a conference or funeral or whatnot), I would probably head straight to the university library.
Finally, in reference to text, whenever possible, have someone read your text out loud to you, while you make notes on your own hard copy. That's an important and easy strategy that filters out a great amount of problematic sentence structure, paragraph structure, and content malaprop. Good luck.
Hope this doesn't sound pedantic. Just trying to contribute. Hopefully, folks will continue to "kick down" in my direction.