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  1. #1
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    Critques on layout, color scheme, and navigation, etc please. Thanks.

    Hi all,

    Been working on a site for about a year now, through many changes. I've asked friends for advice but I get the feeling they are just telling me what I want to hear so I'm looking for independent critique from others who have similar interest. The site is www.simba-judah.webs.com

    Thanks for your time.

    cows

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot RyanKing1809's Avatar
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    I think you're website looks cluttered, over-complicated and looks like it dates back to the 1990's. I apologise but I have nothing nice to say and my best advice would be to start your styles again - this time avoiding photoshop headings, gradients, drop shadows, bevels, glows, clipart & messy backgrounds. Type something like 'good css' into google and you find a myriad of great examples to learn from and a quality to aim for.

  3. #3
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    Hi Ryan. Thanks for taking the time to look at my site, though I find it hard to accept just about any kind of advice (including stuff unrelated to web design) from people who can't see anything good at all about whatever particular topic is at hand. Anyway, I guess we all have our idiosyncrasies to deal with.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot RyanKing1809's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cows View Post
    Hi Ryan. Thanks for taking the time to look at my site, though I find it hard to accept just about any kind of advice (including stuff unrelated to web design) from people who can't see anything good at all about whatever particular topic is at hand. Anyway, I guess we all have our idiosyncrasies to deal with.
    No worries. I don't think this is a idiosyncrasy. Maybe I was a bit more insulting then I realised...

    Anyway, take it or leave it, if you want to produce a good design you're going to have to start looking at how other people produce good websites.

  5. #5
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    site is awesome ......amazing.You have done a lot of hard work.
    At the time of reading this you have only 2 posts. If you are trying to reach the 3 post minimum quickly I don't think this will count! (but good luck anyway!) haha

    No worries. I don't think this is a idiosyncrasy. Maybe I was a bit more insulting then I realised...
    I don't think criticism in general is insulting. I know how to dish it out and I've taken a fair bit of it in lots of other areas. However, I've had some bad experiences with people who can't see anything good in what they are critiquing. I don't think demanding compliments is okay, either, and I don't get the impression that you were trying to be insulting, but your critiques were kinda all-inclusive in a very broad way which didn't seem to justify the work it would take to throw everything out and start all over again.

    I don't know what "over-complicated" means because you didn't give any specific example.

    Probably the criticism of yours I can relate to most is the one about being cluttered. I generally have a problem with that and, even as I'm writing this I'm trying to imagine ways to implement the criticism.

    Anyway, thanks again for taking the time, Ryan.

    For example, I have no idea what it means to have a website that looks like it is from the 90's.

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    Hey there. Generally I'm not a big fan of those tool-bars at the bottom. They seem to slow the site down a bit. Color scheme seems fine.

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    It is cluttered, personally I'm not a fan of justified type, the grey text on black looks too dark imo and overall the design is too dark, there is too much equilibrium - nothing jumps out, I wouldn't know what to look at first because everything it pretty much the same size/colour in terms of individual content links - sorry just my honest opinion!

  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot RyanKing1809's Avatar
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    Ok, I'll try again, hopefully I'll be bit more insightful this time.

    I find your site is a collection of incoherent features. Each element fighting for attention rather than working together, as elbot says there's no hierarchy. You seem to be continuously adding features to your website rather than considering how it is experienced. I'm not saying don't use these features (ok maybe you should stay away from some of them) but they shouldn't be used without reason. If you don't use these in careful manner you're going to get some ill-considered effects.

    For example, drop-shadows are a great way of differentiating space, especially the case in areas of low contrast and is best used subtly. In your case you've used them around the edge of elements which have what is already a high contrast, they're dark and heavy, they draw my attention more then the content (the most important element on a website). Same with gradients, yours are dealt with a heavy hand and really draw my attention to areas that are not needed - not only that you can't even read the text written on top of it. I'm focusing on the features of your website rather than the content, and when I want to read the content it is an extremely unpleasant experience.

    Remember the content is the most important thing on your website, it's what you want the users to read, it's what they want to read and it's your goal as a web designer to make it as easy as possible to read. And there's plenty of features on your website that prevent that from happening. To name a few:

    - There's a blue icon the appears next to your links - I can read it more clearly than the links themselves. Why is it there? Is it important? It doesn't appear to be.
    - You've created many headings in photoshop, I can't read these with glows and bevels and fire effects, they're just 'flashy' useless graphics. Do the enhance me experience? No - nor do they look good.
    - And by far the most dominate feature of your website are your borders, they're barely necessary at all, let alone big fat ones of ones with bright shiny bevels. Is that what you want you user thinking about when they first see your website?


    You current layout is clumsy at best. Each time you add a 'feature' to you website you need to consider how it is read. What would be even better is don't add features to your website. First think what you are trying to achieve than implement a solution. And user experience comes first.

    I'm sorry to say this but I do believe the best solution would be to throw it all away and start again. I can barely read this layout and it's not worth taking the time, if it can be done, to fiddle with it till it's right - it was built with the wrong frame of mind. It would be best to start from scratch and only add things the right way - with a good solid reason.

  9. #9
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    Thanks Ryan (and elbot),for elaborating on your thoughts.

    I do have a weakness for "flashy graphics" and I had a lot of fun playing around with them in photoshop, but ok point noted. I'm not sure I see the issue with contrast, but I definitely get the point about equilibrium and clutter/space managment.

    I'll do as you earlier suggested and have a look through some css templates for a bit of inspiration.

    Thanks again for taking the time to review my site.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Zealot RyanKing1809's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cows View Post
    I'm not sure I see the issue with contrast.
    A significant change in contrast will draw the readers eye- use it as a form of direction. What do you want to draw the readers attention towards?

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    SitePoint Zealot irishman's Avatar
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    Its a very dark website, not what I would have expected for that topic. The page took over 21 seconds to load, mainly due to the background.png

  12. #12
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    Hello again.

    The website is simba-judah.webs.com

    Ok so it took me 3 months to get around to it but I made a lot of changes to the website. I assume Ryan is still around (at least I hope so) as he was the most volatile critic I faced (haha).

    I didn't do a complete reboot as he suggested, though I made what I feel are significant changes. I reduced the clutter and changed up the contrast a bit.

    The navigation bar at the bottom isn't my choice. I have a very serious problem with electronic payments as well as commitments to payments in the future, so I decided to build this site dependent on a free host (i.e. webs.com). As a result the navigation bar at the bottom is unavoidable and totally dependent on the whims of my free host. It may bother some people but personally I feel it's a very small price to pay for free hosting and I'm happy with the results. This isn't an ad for webs, btw, but just me appreciating the free service I get.

    Also, to Irishman (don't know if you are still around, but still...), yes I realize it's a bit dark, but I don't think Christianity needs to be fluffy white clouds all the time. After all, light shines the brightest in darkness! If you don't believe that, try creating a glow effect in photoshop against a plain white background! lol

    Speaking of which, I asked some friends and they liked the "photocshop headers" I created, as opposed to plain text headers, so I kept them. Ryan, you are overruled on that point! (though I still appreciate your effort to point it out).

    As usual, please let me have it without any compromise and I'll decide if I want to accept the criticism or not, and thanks very much for the time anyone spends giving advices.

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    I'm happy to offer some thoughts, in no particular order.

    The first thing I like to see when I arrive on a home page is an answer to the question "What is the purpose of this site?" I expect to find it somewhere at the top, but I realized yours is along the left sidebar, down, so I'll have to scroll below the fold to read it. I was reading the words "cornerstone of Christianity," and an ad for Call of Duty Black Ops popped up over your site purpose. That seemed more than a little incongruous to me.

    I would put the purpose in the center column, and move the study pages links to the left sidebar, especially since people are used to having links there. I would also re-consider whether having ads is appropriate for this kind of site.

    The hover over color is a blue that might be too dark given your background color--it makes the link you're considering hard to read instead of inviting to click.

    Your page WWFJD is easy to read, because you have a nice light background with dark text. However, the links on the menu above it are pretty dark text on pretty dark background, which makes them hard to see.

    I notice your headings are in a different style and color (WWFJD is orange, Books is black/red, Money is green, and so on). Although I understand the temptation to make each one unique and "fun," I think it's better for users to have something consistent, and ensure each one is easy to read (Books is a little tricky).

    I like your symbols on the top right area. I wasn't sure why all the symbols aren't included in that area on all the pages.

    I notice some of the pages still have a lot of content to be developed (when I click on Books, for example, there aren't any yet).

    This is an interesting concept for a site, and I think you can make it work with a dark, dramatic background, but I would seriously re-think the use of pop-up ads on every page (or even any page). The text invites people to ponder big questions in life, and the ads are encouraging people to spend money on earthly concerns.

    Good luck!

  14. #14
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    Hi J. Thanks for your iinput. The pop-ups are not my idea. It is something I must accept in exchange for using a free host (like webs.com). I know it's annoying but as it is now I can't see any way around it. Because of my beliefs against on-line banking and credit cards I'm not in a position to pay for an upgrade to remove the pop-ups. It may be possible to pay via snail mail, but I also do not want to be in a situation where my website is dependent on payments.

    I put the study links in the center of the page and up at the top because I received some advice elsewhere about how I should make the most important part of the site the most prominent. Those links are the only reason that site exists. However, I get your point about an explanation for the site being prominent too. Ahh, I know! I will remove the rather large "contact" image at the top, use that space for the search box, and then bump the "welcome" explanation up a bit so that it's closer to the top, just under the logo on the left.

    Regarding the logo's issue in the top right corner, once again, because I'm using a free host, I can only manipulate one file at a time. I can't change all my files off line and then upload them all at the same time. I must surf into the web host site, open each individual folder and upload/save at which point I am returned to the main folder and have to surf in again through the various folders to upload the next file. It becomes very tedious.

    Since this is a work in progress, I uploaded the studies over time in various layouts, which have gone through changes. What I've come up with now happened as a result of manipulating the css rather than the html. In order to change the layout to what you've suggested, I would need to manipulate the html, which would require surfing into each individual file manually on the webhost and I don't want to do that!!! (*cries*)

    I'm not sure why you didn't see any entries in the books section. There should be three.

    I know what you mean about all the various headers. It's criticism I've received before and I think it's understandable. I did have a lot of fun playing with them, but I can also see how it can make the site appear a bit disjointed or maybe even a bit childish (though I don't see that as being such a problem). I did try a layout using text as the header (rather than an image) but a friend said he likes the images better and this is a joint site so I'm a bit limited in that sense. There are some changes I can't make arbitrarily. However, perhaps if I play around with sprucing up the plain text header concept he will change his mind.

    I'll think about the link-hover color. I'm so bad at organizing color schemes. I've been through thousands of changes over the past year.

    Thanks again for your comments, J. I appreciate the time you took.

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    Hey matey,

    I think enough has been said in this thread, and I agree with everything. It's cluttered, the colours clash, and the graphics are very 90s clip-art-esque. So instead of a mass rant, I'm going to say:

    Less is more. Start again and only pick what you really need. Don't box things in so much. look up whitespace.

    Cheers.

  16. #16
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    Hi harly. Thanks for your sans rant.

    I looked up "whitespace" as you advised and found something about "cookie cutter". Go figure.

    It's great that you agree with everything; I wish I had the same...err...ability...

    With 1 post, (at the time of me writing this) it's hard to believe that you are actually sitepoint staff, as well as considering the rules about the content of website reviews. If a new member comes to this section, wanting a review for his own site, but needing to fulfill the mandatory number of reviews before submitting his own request, and makes a post as you have here (i.e. I agree with everything that's been said, trash it) would you feel that's a critique applicable to forum standards?

    Jus sayin...

    (btw, regarding your "90's" comments, if this site utilizes 'smilies' emoticons in any way, I want to hear an apology from you)

  17. #17
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    Well, I have to say that my first impression is that I'd stop there to look it over because it is quite dramatic in contrasts. I'm not sure, however, that the drama quite fits the content. It is a bit foreboding rather than enticing. I think that be the flat black page background. A particular part that I can identify as not being enticing is the "Volunteer" section colors. It reminds me of flames from Hell engulfing the word. Friendlier colors there, please!

    I could be wrong but I think the reference to "white space" has to do with having more space that is not busy with text, images, gradients. ("White space" does not have to be white necessarily.) "White space" is a very powerful part of a design's composition in drawings, paintings, and web pages. I've heard it referred to as "negative space" because there is nothing "inside" but "nothing" can be very powerful. I don't know if I've given a good explanation, sorry.

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    Hi crumbles. Thanks for you thoughts. I've made (what I consider to be) some dramatic changes to the site today. I've moved the study links to the far left and the explanation blurb to the center, as J suggested.

    I took the explanation blurb out of it's box as well as the "featured articles", in the spirit of what some others have suggested about the site looking too boxy. I think this creates a bit more of the whitespace people were talking about.

    I removed the large "contact" graphic at the top and replaced it with the search box.

    I removed the dark background graphic and replaced it with a css gradient to lighten things up a bit.

    I also changed the volunteer section at the bottom to something a bit more plain. It's interesting that you mention the fires of hell because another friend of mine said something similar. Since I've got two witnesses I've changed it to something a bit more in conformity with the rest of the page. I also removed it from it's box, kinda. I left the shadow on it jus to play around with something a bit different.

    Thanks again for taking the time.

  19. #19
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    I like the background change and the Volunteer change. On my screen the title of the first featured article overlaps the title of the second article. I really liked the study pages "bowed" and in the center. The current content in the center is not long enough - to me it unbalances the page too much. I do like the other changes a lot.

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    Ugh, yeah the title of the first featured article looks okay on my 10'' netbook screen, but on my friend's screen I noticed the same overlap you mentioned. I'll try playing around with it.

    I also liked the study links menu in the middle. I'll think about changing it back. I kinda didn't save the code I used to stick it in the middle so I'd have to play around a fair bit to get it back to how it was!

    I ready increased the font size of the site explanation and it's still not long enough? Haha I don't know what else to add to it without making it seem like I'm, just trying to pad it out! I think it will look better as an aside, on the side the way it was before I moved it.

    Anyway, thanks again for your feedback, crumbles.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by cows View Post
    Ugh, yeah the title of the first featured article looks okay on my 10'' netbook screen, but on my friend's screen I noticed the same overlap you mentioned. .... I kinda didn't save the code I used to stick it in the middle so I'd have to play around a fair bit to get it back to how it was!
    I spent my first 2 months teaching myself html and css on my laptop. When I thought I had something decent I viewed it on a desktop monitor. Total disaster. Had to start all over again. It was all learning, but . . . I also thought I was saving code at times but wasn't. Oh well. Maybe you can take screen shots at times to help in going back to something you liked better before you made changes, to help you remind yourself what you liked before.

    I know what you mean about trying to pad for more content. Seems like most people are trying to reduce content clutter -- not me! I think it would be better back as the aside.

  22. #22
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    My advice is to start again with a template theme, there are many you can download and are free.

    Overall it is dreadfull on the eye - which is a shame as the content is very interesting and will apeal to readers of your topic.

    There is way too much colour and it is more like a games website than the more serious thinking of your content.


    Think about creating a mood, you need calm and peace for your subject site, nature, images of serenity.

    I am sorry it is brutal my friend, but its a shame because it is interesting content.

    I completely rebuilt my site recently after someone honestly told me what what was wrong.

    I think you will get allot of visitors as your topic is interesting and popular, well worth the effort of starting again IMHO
    Last edited by brigzy; Jul 27, 2012 at 11:58. Reason: removed template link - not releveant

  23. #23
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    Hello,

    I like the fade effect of links in your page. But the style of you site was too old and mess, I think you should redesign it.
    and also there are some errors in you site, for example, when I move the mouse cursor on "Luke 8" of "Volunteer" Block, the text and link overlap.

  24. #24
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    Followings can be improved upon:
    1. List link can be kept in footer or header. With content, it is coming all over the content.
    2. Too much use of colours like in MILK vs MEAT in http://www.simba-judah.webs.com/milk...meat_home.html
    3. On searching some keywords, new pop-up window opens. In my understanding your searched page should come in the same window.

    Regards,
    Savepie

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    Okay, I like the lighter background a lot, and I really like the explanation (site purpose) in the middle. It's the first thing my eye went to, and it should be what I read first.

    It is obviously your website, but I have to reiterate--the ads are completely subtracting from the purpose of your site. Your text says that you want to "focus on Jesus, without distraction," and right next to those words, there's an ad. In the long-term, that's just not a tenable arrangement. There are free hosting sites available, so you don't have to be stuck with whatever you have now. Weebly and WordPress both offer free site development with template designs--and with WordPress, you can convert your existing site into their system. My site is educational, so it was very important to me to be ad-free, and there are companies out there who offer free hosting without ads (or, they ask you to include a small, discreet footer message with the name of the web host--much preferable to a pop-up, and similar to what you already have at the bottom where it says "Get a free website with webs.com"). I won't bring it up again, but I think it might be something you're used to, so you don't realize how jarring the ads are and how much they take away from the message you're trying to offer your visitors. If you wanted to monetize a separate site with ads, or possibly have your visitors pay to have access to special features, like studyguides or other resources, that would be a better way to go. If your site didn't have that ad there, your links would all be visible as soon as users arrive, and they're in a logical place (as opposed to the center of the page).

    One other suggestion is to move your search box from the top center to the upper right area, switching places with your icon links.


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