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Author Topic: Website Critique Request  (Read 6567 times)
AndyS
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« on: September 06, 2007, 01:54:12 AM »
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Hi,

I'm looking for some useful critique on my website: http://www.astannard.com

A bit of background....

I first got the website up and running about a year ago, as a means to display some of my photos, but also as a means for me to learn something about web design. I've recently made a few changes/updates and am looking for peoples opinions.

It's a non-commercial site at the moment, but the option is there for people to contact me if they're interested in any of the images. In the next couple of months I'm looking to add PayPal integration and to 'commercialise' some of the text on the site.

All comments appreciated, I may not necessarily agree, but am interested in others thoughts on the design and the images.


Thanks,
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 01:54:26 AM by AndyS » Logged

Chris_T
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« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2007, 07:08:14 AM »
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Finally, a site that I really like. Well, to an extend.

Simple and elegant design. Contents well organized and easy to navigate. Nice contents, both text and images. Fast loading. Meets the photog's stated objective. Congratulations for taking the time to hand code it.

Great use and control of background and text: minimal and consistent color, size, and style through the site. The exception is the galleries' descriptions: the text font color, unlike elsewhere, is not black, making them less legible against their background.

The News page is terrific, but can be simplied or better organized. Now it reads like a blog, and that's fine. But to really assist visitors, provide them with a concise but accurate  revision history (i.e. without how they are done, future plans, etc.). IOW, tell them what's new and link them there. That's the best way to keep their interest. Most web sites do not bother to provide revision histories, or to date their articles. This is a huge annoyance to returning visitors. How are they supposed to find out what has been updated and when? If they don't know, they won't have the patience to go through each page and would simply leave. This is especially important for web galleries that are updated frequently. The LL site has a What's New page, and that's great. But none of the articles are dated. At this fast changing stage of digital imaging, how can the readers tell which  articles are stale and which are not?

The right angle pointers of the menu buttons are misleading (and unnecessary?). They imply there are drop down menus, but the only one that works this way is the Galleries button.

The menu column is wider than necessary. Slimming it down can free up more horizontal real estate for better use.

Gallery thumbnails:

- less on a page will allow larger sizes

- portraits are stretched into landscapes

- how will you handle a big gallery, say with 30 images?

Enlargements:

- portraits are significantly smaller than landscapes. I suppose this is done to prevent the need of vertical scrolling. But I would layout the gallery page differently to make optimal use of the premium vertical real estate. For example, the large title and caption, the large back/forward arrows, the description and the thumbnails are all taking up vertical space. They don't need to be.

To a new member like you, my comments may seem harsh for a site that I really like. But you'll feel better after reading what I had to say about other sites:

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=13890
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2007, 10:06:11 AM »
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This is a very nice site, and Chris (who is the LL forum's best Resident Web Critic) has covered most points well, as usual.

I agree that the site looks a bit busy when I'm looking at an individual image. One fix might be an option to click on an image (or a reasonably discrete button below it) that would open a slightly larger image in a new tab/window against a plain background. Just a thought.

It is one of the best photo websites I've seen: simple, elegant, easy to navigate, few unnecessary distractions.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 10:06:46 AM by EricM » Logged

-Eric Myrvaagnes

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kikashi
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« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2007, 10:59:22 AM »
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Quote
Hi,

I'm looking for some useful critique on my website: http://www.astannard.com
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=137637\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I like it. I'm particularly enamoured of the fact that when looking at full-sized shots, the "next" button stays in the same place whatever the size of the pic, so I don't have to move the mouse as I navigate forwards. I'm not sure I've seen that before.

Jeremy
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alainbriot
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« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2007, 12:21:05 PM »
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Hi Andy,

I like that you have a photograph of yourself. It is important to have one but too few photographers do. I also like your series on Aigues Mortes.

Keep up the good work!

ALain
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 12:22:10 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
Author of Mastering Landscape Photography, Mastering Composition, Creativity and Personal Style., Marketing Fine Art Photography and How Photographs are Sold.
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AndyS
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« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2007, 03:31:20 PM »
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Hi,

Thanks for the comments, much appreciated.

Quote
To a new member like you, my comments may seem harsh for a site that I really like.

No problem Chris. I'd looked around a bit on the forum before posting, and to be truthful I was hoping that you would respond. Your style of criticism is very constructive, which is a rarer thing to find on forums than it should be! Glad you like the general design and layout.


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...the galleries' descriptions: the text font color, unlike elsewhere, is not black

Good point. Looking at it, neither is the text on the News page. This should be easy enough to fix.


Quote
The News page is terrific, but can be simplied or better organized.

I've thought this myself. It's OK at the moment, whilst there isn't too much to look through, but it could become a pain over time. I'll consider some ways of changing this. Maybe having a condensed list, whereby each item can be expanded if desired by clicking on a '...more' button?


Quote
The right angle pointers of the menu buttons are misleading (and unnecessary?).

Can see what you mean. They were there to give a visual indication of the currently selected menu item (you will see that they depress for the current page), but maybe I should think of an alternative way of doing this.


Quote
Gallery thumbnails:

I need to think about a way to handle more thumbnail images. To be honest I don't want galleries with too many images, would rather expand by having more galleries, although would need some redesign of the page linking to the various galleries.

I like having all the thumbnails the same size, but maybe I could consider cropping rather than compressing those for the portait pics?

Quote
Enlargements:

You are right in pointing out that the vertical space could be better maximised, The titles and previous/next arrows could certainly be made to take up less space, and I will have a look at doing this. This combined with a reduced width menu should allow me to increase the image size.

Note ( and this is to Eric really), that you can already click on the image to obtain a larger framed view of the image. Couldn't think of a way to make this obvious to the user (other than the fact that you do get a hand pointer over the image). Any thoughts? Also, currently the larger image opnes in the same window, do people think it would be better in a new window (or tab in newer browsers)?


The comments have been really useful and I will look to take on board what I can. Thanks to the other repsonses too. Alain - It was your Lens Baby images that inspired me to buy one, so glad to see that you like my efforts!


Cheers,
« Last Edit: September 06, 2007, 03:55:44 PM by AndyS » Logged

feppe
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Oh this shows up in here!


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« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2007, 04:23:40 PM »
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Really good site. The simple design speaks, the design palette is well thought out, and photo viewing is unobtrusive. I wonder if there'd be a better way to let people know that they can get a bigger version of the photo - the only reason I noticed was when I clicked on News.

And beautiful photography, I especially like your atmospheric landscapes.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2007, 04:36:37 PM »
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Note ( and this is to Eric really), that you can already click on the image to obtain a larger framed view of the image. Couldn't think of a way to make this obvious to the user (other than the fact that you do get a hand pointer over the image). Any thoughts? Also, currently the larger image opnes in the same window, do people think it would be better in a new window (or tab in newer browsers)?
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=137756\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
Oops! My bad. I guess I had returned to your home page before trying clicking on an image to enlarge it. Yes, it works just fine as is. I should have noticed the arrow changing to a hand when hovering over the photos.

IMHO, opening it in the current window is OK, because it is easy to tell modern browsers to use a new tab. It might be nice to have left-up-right buttons above or below the enlarged image, to move to the next or previous enlarged image, with "up" meaning back to the gallery-with-snapshots view.

Nice images, too. And your website has given me some good ideas for when I get around to designing my own.
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-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
LoisWakeman
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« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2007, 12:09:33 PM »
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Andy - how nice to find a site that I don't feel compelled to go on about in terms of usability, web standards, or business nous. Chris has already said plenty - so I want to congratulate you on doing the job so well - and learning properly how to do it to boot.

And also for featuring some lovely places in England too!
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AndyS
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« Reply #9 on: September 07, 2007, 01:05:30 PM »
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Lois,

Thanks for the kind comments, much appreciated.

The South West of England is a long drive from Lancashire. Looking at your own galleries has made me wish it was closer! I don't get down there very often, and it offers so much great landscape.

That said I get to be within an hours drive of The Lakes, so won't complain to much!

Cheers,
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AndyS
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« Reply #10 on: September 09, 2007, 10:36:44 AM »
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Hi,

Just to let anyone following this know....

I've updated my 'News' page a bit. By default it now shows a concise history of changes, but you can expand each news item to obtain more information, simply by clicking on '...more'.

Modified News Page

Interested to know what people think,

Cheers,
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #11 on: September 12, 2007, 03:06:39 AM »
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Andy: much easier to see at a glance. The only minor annoyance is the way the page loses focus after you click "more", so you often have to scroll down again after expanding an older item.

I imagine once you have the site how you want it, there will be more photo news and less technical news - which is what I guess most visitors (other than geeks like me!) want to read.
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etrump
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« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2007, 10:14:11 PM »
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Just a suggestion, you might want to force the thumbnails to crop or maintain aspect ratio.  They don't do the wonderful photographs justice when they distort the image.

The Flamingo Walk is a really great look.
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Ed Cooley

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« Reply #13 on: September 19, 2007, 08:31:11 PM »
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Excellent website. User friendly and good looking. Good photographs.

If you want to sell photos off your website, design it for customers. If you want to make it a place for other photographers design it for that. But don't try to mix the two. They have nothing in common, and you end up selling a lot less than you would with a strictly customer focused site.
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Joseph T. Sinclair, Author
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