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Author Topic: My website - comments / criticisms? Thanks!  (Read 2118 times)
jim.batzer
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« on: January 28, 2009, 12:12:37 PM »
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I've had the site up for a while, but I haven't gotten much useful feedback from family, friends, etc. I made the site in dreamweaver, but don't have much html experience (although I am willing to learn). I'm getting ready to update / redesign the site with newer work.

What do you think? Any suggestions for improvement? I'd love to get some suggestions / criticisms about the design of the site, but I'd also welcome any comments about the images, image categories, etc...

Thanks!

David James Batzer

www.batzerphotography.com
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2009, 08:21:33 AM »
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Hi David - or do you prefer Jim?

You might look at some of the other web site threads here - as I don't really want to say the same things again! I'll just summarise the main points and you can do the legwork to see why I said them  

Before I start - the images are lovely. But you do hide them away (see third), which rather defeats the purpose of a photo site.

First - use of frames to organise the content - no, no, no.  And no.

Second: combine the splash screen and the one with the icon explanations. An extra click for nothing. But see fourth.

Third: streamline the navigation so it's easy to get to the galleries from the home page - not home > icons > images > gallery. An important principle of information architecture is to get the most important content in front of the reader quickly, not impede his/her progress learning your site design!

Fourth: don't expect people to learn an icon scheme just to use your site. Usability studies show that they won't: that's why the top commercial sites (like Google, Amazon, etc.) use text links except for very commonly recognised things like shopping carts.

Fifth: white on black is quite hard on the eyes for some people - and the use of italics makes it worse. Think about not using such a small base font size: about 90% is quite small enough for us over-50s!

Sixth: why's the text on the images page done as a (fuzzy) graphic and an image map? This is the most important page on the site and you make it inaccessible?

Have fun learning HTML! And have a look at this thread for more pointers
 
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jim.batzer
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« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2009, 12:36:00 PM »
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>>Hi David - or do you prefer Jim?

Jim is fine.

>>You might look at some of the other web site threads here - as I don't really want to say the same things again! I'll just summarise the main points and you can do the legwork to see why I said them  

Thanks, I will.

>>Before I start - the images are lovely. But you do hide them away (see third), which rather defeats the purpose of a photo site.

That was pretty much the issue the made me want to redesign. Looking at the server report on hits and pages viewed, I noticed people only viewed one or two clicks deep.

>>First - use of frames to organise the content - no, no, no.  And no.

Ok, ok, ok. and ok. Worst. Website. Organization. Strategy. Ever.
Got it... Any recommendations other than frames? I didn't want to reload the navigational links with every page...

>>Second: combine the splash screen and the one with the icon explanations. An extra click for nothing. But see fourth.

Ok.

>>Third: streamline the navigation so it's easy to get to the galleries from the home page - not home > icons > images  > gallery. An important principle of information architecture is to get the most important content in front of the reader quickly, not impede his/her progress learning your site design!

Completely agree - excellent point. Thanks.

>>Fourth: don't expect people to learn an icon scheme just to use your site. Usability studies show that they won't: that's why the top commercial sites (like Google, Amazon, etc.) use text links except for very commonly recognised things like shopping carts.

I agree here as well. I think my "looks cool" hat and my "looks different" hat ganged up and ate my "sensible website design" hat. Taking a fresh look at the sites I frequent, I noticed they do things very simply - this site, Outback Photo, Alain Briot's site...

>>Fifth: white on black is quite hard on the eyes for some people - and the use of italics makes it worse. Think about not using such a small base font size: about 90% is quite small enough for us over-50s!

Agreed and thanks.

>>Sixth: why's the text on the images page done as a (fuzzy) graphic and an image map? This is the most important page on the site and you make it inaccessible?

Ok. In fact, all the text on the site is a graphic. I was trying to use a font I liked (not on most computers) and trying to maintain its size regardless of browser settings. But I have to agree that allowing people to clearly read the text and adjust the font size is more important than a font preference on my part.

>>Have fun learning HTML! And have a look at this thread for more pointers

I will! Thanks so much for the advice.



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AndyS
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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2009, 01:35:10 PM »
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Hi Jim,

I won't repeat Lois' comments - I'm in agreement with post of the points made. That includes the fact that your images are lovely - which is always an important criteria in my book!

Quote from: jim.batzer
Ok. In fact, all the text on the site is a graphic. I was trying to use a font I liked (not on most computers) and trying to maintain its size regardless of browser settings. But I have to agree that allowing people to clearly read the text and adjust the font size is more important than a font preference on my part.

I would really recommend against this for two other reasons as well - 1st it makes it very hard (impossible) for google to index the content of your site. The search engine can't read any text that in images. Secondly use of images will also increase load times for all your pages - text will load much faster than any image.

Using text should also help you worry less about reloading the naviagtion bar for each page - if it's mainly text based then load times won't be a problem.

I took the route of learning HTML and CSS, and enjoyed myself, although I'm a bit of a techie at heart really. Anyhow, it's not too hard once you get your head around the basic concepts, and you'll end up in full control of everything you do. Learning from the output of Dreamweaver would be a good starting point, as it has a reputation for producing relatively 'clean' html - particularly compared to the likes of Front Page Express!


Hope those comments help a bit,

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jim.batzer
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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2009, 06:52:02 PM »
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Thanks a lot Andy.

That makes sense. I was a bit scared off by CSS, but I guess I'll give it a go and jump right in.

Thanks again.
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Eric Myrvaagnes
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« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2009, 07:53:19 PM »
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Quote from: jim.batzer
That makes sense. I was a bit scared off by CSS, but I guess I'll give it a go and jump right in.
Jim,

You may want to look at the thread I started when I rewrote my website recently: My New Website is Up


I got many helpful suggestions from the forum, and early on Lois Wakeman suggested I learn CSS and get rid of the frames. I had no idea what CSS was at that point, but with a little googling for web tutorials I found it was really quite manageable. As a result, I am now able to make changes pretty easily, thanks to the people here. I still use a generator (BreezeBrowser Pro) to create my web galleries, but I have customized the Chris Breeze's templates so that even they match the "look and feel" of the rest of my site.

Besides the (free) web tutorials I have also invested in a couple of books that Chris_T suggested: one is called "Don't Make Me Think" by Steve Krug, and the other is Elizabeth Castro's "HTML, XHTML & CSS", which also discusses javascript. These have both been quite helpful.

Good luck!

-Eric
« Last Edit: January 29, 2009, 07:53:54 PM by EricM » Logged

-Eric Myrvaagnes

http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my website. New images each season.
LoisWakeman
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« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2009, 04:55:37 AM »
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Quote from: jim.batzer
Ok, ok, ok. and ok. Worst. Website. Organization. Strategy. Ever.
Got it... Any recommendations other than frames? I didn't want to reload the navigational links with every page...
Hi Jim, glad you found my suggestions useful rather than overwhelmingly depressing!

There are several strategies for that. First, if you can use some kind of server-side scripting on your host (PHP, ASP(.net) etc.), you can use "include files" to pull in the contents of a standard file on each page - that's a technique I use a lot on my sites for headers and footers f'rinstance. (Please excuse the missing examples later down on the page I link to - my host changed the server settings so they don't work any more, and I am still waiting for the round tuit to turn up!)

Second, most site management (rather than web page writing) tools such as HomeSite, Expression Web or Dreamweaver, allow you to do global search and replace, so you could put a place holder called - e.g. - [menu] in your pages while you develop them locally, then replace it by the HTML code for your menus once you are ready to go. Some also offer dynamic navigation generation tools as well.

Thirdly - you could use a content management system (CMS) or photo gallery application that will automatically update the menus for you whenever you add a new page etc. Perhaps others here will suggest systems that work well for photos, as I don't have any direct experience.
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joergen geerds
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« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2009, 07:53:47 AM »
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I wholeheartedly agree with lois. well summarized.
I would like to add that we have the year 2009, so there is little reason to code a website to 2001 standards. I would strongly suggest to look into content management systems (CMS), that allow you to organize your content through a web interface, rather than handcoding everything. they usually also use the latest/easiest CSS/DHTML. I would look into wordpress.org or pixelpost.org for example. also look what themes they have available, maybe one that is easy to modify already fits your taste/needs. they all offer nice ways to display images, through javascripts like i.e. lightbox. you also shouldn't worry about download speed too much, most people have some form of broadband by now, and the few people who have dialup, well, don't worry about them. (but do not bog things down with too large jpgs (i.e. 1MB).

I have 3 sites, two use a blog engine (wordpress) as CMS, and I am in the process converting the third site also to a wordpress backend. it makes life so much easier, since I know it takes will power to fire up the text editor and edit something in html, and upload new images manually, but it's so easy to write a new blog entry from your iphone... also, google loves blogs.
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jim.batzer
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« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2009, 12:01:36 PM »
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Thanks so much for the advice. I'll look into the CMS approach.
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