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Author Topic: Web site for scrutiny  (Read 4823 times)
djgarcia
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« on: December 08, 2009, 12:38:17 AM »
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As a glutton for punishment I'm submitting my web site for your (hopefully) enjoyment and appraisal. I'm interested in how the user experience comes across, what works for some people but not for others, what's too much or not enough.

It's goal is not so much to be accessible to everybody but to provide a better than average user experience in the evolving technology, hopefully for at least 60% of potential users. I'm also trying to make accessing over 1000 images a user friendly and enjoyable experience.

Some caveats:

- A modem connection will very likely be too slow.

- You need to have Javascript enabled, as the whole image section is script driven. I've actually used this as my Javascript training so I may have gone a bit too elaborate.

You can get to the image galleries by clicking the front picture or the Beauty link on the left.

http://islbeauty.net

Have a wonderful holiday season,

DJ
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LoisWakeman
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« Reply #1 on: December 08, 2009, 08:22:32 AM »
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I find the user experience rather unsatisfactory - the way that the main content often stays the same although the top banner changes when you click the links is mildly disconcerting, and the mixture of unrelated topics is somewhat puzzling. I don't have a clear picture of what the site is about or what you want it to do for you. But as a web developer, I am probably far more concerned about such arcana than the average bear, or your intended audience.

The cryptic labels are a no-no: the fact you had to explain in your post how to get to the galleries is a clue there! The navigation should support rather than obscure the content IMO - though you may well have a different aim here than straight usability of course. (Have a look on the web for 'mystery meat navigation'!)

The way the galleries work needs a bit of tweaking: as soon as you select an image from the left pane, it scrolls right up to the top one again. And if you flip back into the galleries after looking at another page, you can't get back to the top level if you jumped out from a sub-level.

There is a mightily impressive number of controls - but that showcases your programming skills more than the images: to repeat myself, the controls should ideally (IMO only of course) be an almost invisible aid to navigation, rather than the dominant element of the page. There are lots of elegant and unobtrusive CSS-based lightbox and gallery applications on the web - not as satisfying to you as rolling your own of course, but IMO a better way to focus attention on the images.

Appearance: I personally don't like the blue, pink and brown theme - but that is entirely your decision.

Under the hood: you use framesets  - aaaaaaargh    And you really need a more comprehensive (and consistent) set of fonts in your style declarations - may I recommend the font stack selector at codestyle.org if you need help in choosing a reliable set for all platforms, rather than just Macs.

I'm sorry to come up with such a long string of observations - but my overall impression is of a very cleverly programmed personal project rather than a photo web site. But like I said, I am probably a few hundred miles away from your intended audience - I'll get back into my dark cupboard now  
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Les Sparks
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2009, 09:49:30 AM »
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Using firefox and vista64. Both up to date.
When I click on options and go to monitor setup and then come back to the gallery, I can not get an image displayed in the main window. Just some text, for example:

Click the border to change its color
Gallery : Navajoland: Arizona & Utah — Oct 2005
Canyon De Chelly (Chinle, AZ) (31 images) : AZ_05_Chinle_01.jpg
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II  •  Carl Zeiss 85mm f1.4 / DSLReXchange Adapter
Exposure  1/1500 @ ƒNA  •  Bias  0  •  ISO  100

Returning to your home page and then going to the gallery doesn't help.
Going to the work section is jarring. The white background totally kills the idea that the website is a unified whole.
Navigation needs some work. When I hit the browser back arrow, I don't get consistent behavior.

I did enjoy your photos.,
I'm not sure what your plans are for Spirit and Self. When you click on them, the only thing that changes is the top banner (also pointed out by LoisWakeman).
Do you plan to add pages here or what? Because Beauty (your photos) is the main thing completed, perhaps it should be first. A visitor might click on the first thing and finding nothing may then go to another site.
You've put a lot of work into this and with some tweaking it should be fine.
Les
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djgarcia
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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2009, 11:19:37 AM »
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Lois - an excellent observation! Please don't go back into your cupboard. I appreciate the very constructive comments and time spent. The website is as you mention, a personal project about my main interests originally intended mainly for family, friends and associates, but the main thrust is to share my photos. As a (predominantly non-web) developer I'm always struggling between how quickly you can do something and how busy the GUI looks. My next phase will be to streamline the navigation visuals. And you would've totally cringed at my previous framework - I went from 3 framesets and 8 frames to one and four . I've streamlined the frameset navigation but it still needs work. Your comments are very helpful.

Les - interesting! Using Firefox 3.5.3 in Windows 7 64-bit I get a different hiccup when coming back from monitor setup - the image displays but the options close (expected) with the Close Options link still showing instead of Click for Options (unexpected). I have to say getting this thing to act the same in both IE & Firefox has been a daunting experience! As mentioned above, I've mainly worked on the image area (I had a different framework from which I've been converting). Your comments on Work are on target. And I will take you up on moving beauty to the top. I need to remind myself the web site is not me (I?) and viceversa .

Thank you for your comments!

Edit: Les, I was able to recreate the no-pic. Thanks! I've incorporated changes based on your comments.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2009, 12:01:13 PM by djgarcia » Logged

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djgarcia
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« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2009, 10:21:16 PM »
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I made several changes based on your feedback, cutting down on unnecessary visual clutter. Thank you again for your valuable comments!

DJ

Edit: Also corrected a problem in Firefox for the Self and Spirit sections.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2009, 10:55:24 PM by djgarcia » Logged

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Chris_T
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« Reply #5 on: December 09, 2009, 07:53:08 AM »
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Try posting at the User Critigues forum instead. There you will get feedback such as these:

http://luminous-landscape.com/forum/index....showtopic=13890
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Les Sparks
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« Reply #6 on: December 09, 2009, 11:13:26 AM »
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Checked back to see how your site worked after the changes.
It appears that you removed the options.
When I clicked on Beauty, I found that the left side menu disappeared and the page background colors changed. This is a jarring experience.  Not sure that it is what you want. Especially the change in background color--I found this sort of disconnected me from the photos. The change called more attention to the page than to the photos.
None of the other sections Spirit, etc. have this behavior.
When I went to Coffee database and then clicked on Beauty the image in beauty did not display. On trying again I had to got to Coffee database, then what's new then Beauty to reproduce the behavior. Trying a third time the behavior did not appear. Might be a hard bug to track down.  Reproduced it by closing your site then reentering it. Clicked on what's new then Beauty. Instead of image got dark brown square.
Les
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djgarcia
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« Reply #7 on: December 09, 2009, 12:49:28 PM »
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Chris, thanks for the tip. I'll do that.

Les - since the left is where the thumbnails come out that's why the background changed. But you are right in that it is jarring. I should probably change the thumbnail background color. I was trying to make it less boring, but sometimes I guess that's what you need. And maybe I should probably load a selection of images when you first go in.

When you say I removed the options, not sure what you mean. I now hide the gallery buttons when you go into a gallery section and the thumbnails display on the left but the Show Options link should be there next to the Prev and Next. I'm checking with Firefox and it's there, but I'll check various conditions and see if something breaks it at times. Good catch on the Coffee DB behavior.

Thank you!
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djgarcia
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« Reply #8 on: December 09, 2009, 02:11:18 PM »
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OK, caught a nice timing hole - thanks Les! Should be fixed now along with some minor color adjustments  - don't forget to clear your cache - the thumbnail space should now be light beige instead of light blue.

I'm going to post this now in the thread ChrisT pointed out and get some more punishment ...

Thank you for your time and energy spent, and have a wonderful Holiday Season.

DJ
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tokengirl
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« Reply #9 on: December 09, 2009, 03:57:21 PM »
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You have lovely photos.  

The functionality of the site is a little off-putting, but not really a deal-killer for me.  However, the background colors are just dreadful.  In my opinion, these peachy/fleshtone colors should be reserved for painting doctors offices.  A white (or black for that matter) background would draw the attention to your photos rather than compete with them.

I'm sorry to be so blunt, and if your photos were crappy I probably wouldn't have even responded at all, but they're not crappy at all, they're very good.  I think they deserve to be showcased more effectively.
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djgarcia
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« Reply #10 on: December 09, 2009, 05:52:18 PM »
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Tokengirl, blunt instruments are often the most effective - I really need to take a hint . And here I thought these sky and nature-friendly colors would be so pleasing. OK, I will start concocting a new color scheme that's different but not off-putting (is such a thing possible?) - I'm trying to avoid a "me-too" site. Maybe something in a green pastel - just kidding.

Thank you for the nice words and good advice. Lois is right behind you there! I re-posted in the Art of Photography / User Critiques forum and will concentrate there - I'm sure to get more color comments so I'll hurry up! Have a great Holiday Season,

DJ
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Les Sparks
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« Reply #11 on: December 10, 2009, 11:13:19 AM »
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Just checked your latest version. Really nice. However, with Firefox 3.5.5 I tried this:
Clicked about, then Spirit, Self, Work, What's New, Coffee Roasting and then Beauty and got no main photo. Just a dark gray almost black box.
OS Fully patched Vista 64.
I closed Firefox and then reopened it and got same behavior.
I tried the same thing with IE-8 and everything worked. Also tried on my laptop with Windows XP and Firefox 3.0.14 and everything seemed to work.

Updated Firefox to 3.0.15 on my laptop and now get same behavior as on vista. (Been a while since I've used my laptop)
When I updated my laptop to 3.5.5 it behaves the same as noted above for 3.5.5 with Vista64.

I like the way you resize things for various screen sizes. Really nice.
Les
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djgarcia
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« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2009, 12:16:42 PM »
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Thanks, Les! State management has been a real challenge. I need to download FF 3.5.5 and debug it. Also the multi-column thumbnail alignment needs fixing. Getting there!

Cheers,

DJ
« Last Edit: December 10, 2009, 12:18:58 PM by djgarcia » Logged

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djgarcia
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« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2009, 09:35:44 PM »
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OK, I think we're good - neutral color scheme in the galleries and I believe the previous problems are fixed. Thank you again for your feedback.

DJ
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BlackSmith
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« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2009, 11:05:05 AM »
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When referring to thumbnails, it is grammatically incorrect to use 'less'. Rather, use 'fewer' since they are discrete items.
Examples:
A gallery with less space will likely display fewer pictures.
A website that attracts fewer viewers will result in less revenue.
Also, in the last few years grocery stores across the country have been changing their signs from the incorrect "10 items of less" to the correct "10 items or fewer" after letting them hang incorrectly for decades. Have they corrected it at your grocery store?

Sean
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Les Sparks
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« Reply #15 on: December 11, 2009, 11:46:15 AM »
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When I go to your site, I immediately get beauty. When I click on the Improbably Structured Layers box (Left side of title banner) I get ISL webmaster.
No way can I get back to your home page.
Tried clearing cache and everything else I could think of but no joy. (Firefox 3.5.5) Looks like Firefox changed something in their update.
Les
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djgarcia
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« Reply #16 on: December 11, 2009, 12:34:29 PM »
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Quote from: BlackSmith
When referring to thumbnails, it is grammatically incorrect to use 'less'. Rather, use 'fewer' since they are discrete items.
 ...
Sean
You are of course absolutely correct - it really refers to "Thumbnail Space" which I thought was too long a caption - they don't really get more thumbnails, just more to look at a time . But I'm grateful for the observation. I do think the languages are getting murdered in the Internet Age and don't want to contribute.
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djgarcia
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« Reply #17 on: December 11, 2009, 12:39:05 PM »
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Quote from: engineer
When I go to your site, I immediately get beauty. When I click on the Improbably Structured Layers box (Left side of title banner) I get ISL webmaster.
No way can I get back to your home page.
Tried clearing cache and everything else I could think of but no joy. (Firefox 3.5.5) Looks like Firefox changed something in their update.
Les
No, Les, that's its actual current state. I'm in transition ...
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Les Sparks
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« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2009, 10:38:21 PM »
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When I look at your great photos, I think you should take your camera and take more photos and relax a bit from working on the website.
You've got a lot of really nice navigation features in your site--but the photos are the real meat.
Thanks for sharing them.
Les
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djgarcia
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« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2009, 01:54:41 PM »
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Les, thank you very much. Yeah, it's a problem when you like both photography and software development . Plus I'm a compulsive optimizer. But I'm with you.

I've tweaked access to site functions from the gallery proper and fixed a few quirks. It seems to be working in a fairly user-friendly way in both IE & FF, but I'm sure somebody's bound to find something. And things van always be improved. I already have a couple of ideas, but I'm letting it rest for a bit. For now I'm leaving the personal areas off - maybe I'll re-integrate them tomorrow. Time to get out some.

Cheers!

DJ
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