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[web] Opinions on my site

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Well, I've been working very hard to get to this point but I'm finally done (hopefully) with the CMS for my site (except for the documentation part...). My CMS generates the static pages on my site. Regardless, the current state of visitor side of my site is: 1) Content - in demo stage, all of the words you see will change 2) Event's calendar - doesn't do much other than show an alert message (that will change of course) 3) CSS themes - later I'll add other CSS themes as options to visitors (if I can finish everything in time), right now its on the default gray theme 4) Galleries - doesn't show up yet (have to come up with an HTML presentation for the XML data). 5) Every other feature - works just as I plan the final version to Please leave feedback. Link - DeVry Crystal City AITP Note: The site is still under heavy construction

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Just a suggestion. The header on your updates sort of distracts the reader from the actual information. If I were you, I would make them much smaller, and maybe a less eye drawing color.

It's coming along well though. Keep it up.
Levi

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Just my humble opinion but:
  • The cyanish colour on the calendar looks out of place, I would change it to a shade of the blue you have used for your headings such as "Jan, 28 2006 Updated site links!"

  • Again colours, the main banner image at the top of the screen looks a bit cheesy. I would use a shade of the aforementioned blue to do both the dots behind the "DeVry Crystal City AITP Chapter" text and the gradient fill of the text itself.

Apart from that, looking good!

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First off, don't take this post too harshly. I mean it to be constructive.

When I opened the site my first impression was ugly. The logo is something that does not get me thinking of anything proffesional. It looks like a hobby site for gaming. The next thing that I noticed was the color scheme:black, white, grey, blue and ... cyan. I would advise getting the color scheme more from the logo of the aitp. Meaning instead of blue in the logo and cyan for mouseovers/titles have it blue for all of it.

Next, the ability to 'minimize' the bar on the left and the calendar on the right is pretty cool. A bit useless, but cool. I see it as superflous, and I would take it out.

So,

  • Create a better logo, one that looks proffesional (look at the AITP's website for example)

  • Fix the color scheme, remove cyan. Maybe replace with the blue for the logo?

  • Remove the 'minimize ability, it is superflous. Maybe create a full column on one side for additional links and the calendar?


Again, don't take this too badly. These are my comments, not everyones. I commend you for the work you have already put in to it.

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I made the cyan more bluish except on the rollover affects. Also, I tried to use the colors of the logo more. It doesn't work, those colors are too dark and it only impedes on readability. I do plan on making different themes where the gray can be replaced with different colors and the visitor can choose which one they view.

As for the collapsable menu. It may be superflous, but its not forced on the user nor is it imposing. Also, the site will have much more content and more links on those menus. Allowing it to collapse may later be useful. Although some pages do not have any links on there. I think I'll change it so that those pages do not have a menu.

On the log issue, the AITP site is not much of an inspiration.

Look at it
http://www.aitpwashingtondc.org/
The one for international site is better, but still no help
http://www.aitp.org/index.jsp

Actually, those sites are horrible references for web design.

*edit*
I removed the collapsable menu feature, although I left that on the calendar since that takes up a lot of space.

[Edited by - T1Oracle on January 28, 2006 9:06:52 PM]

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Hrm.

- The calendar links have a mouseover effect (a box around them) in Opera that isn't present in IE or Firefox. Not really an important issue, but I just thought I'd note it.

- The font used for "DeVry Crystal City AITP Chapter" in the title banner looks quite unprofessional in my opinion, as does the background behind it (the gray with scattered blue pixel-blocks). It's probably a matter of preference really, but I'd go for something simpler if I were designing the site, rather than the gradient and the odd background.

- Your javascript links (left menu) are an accesibility nightmare. The added functionality (appears to just be so you can display the message box) isn't really very useful, but prevents opening the links in a new tab and makes the links completely useless for any visitors who have javascript disabled (yes, it's unusual, but is adding that messagebox really worth breaking the site for those people?).

- I think it looks slightly odd that the header ends where it does and the content extends as far as it can. I think it would probably look better if you either centred the header, or restricted the size of the content area to match it and then centred the entire page (although this would cramp the layout, especially where that calendar and nav menu are).

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I changed the colors on it to a all blue theme. Although I'm keeping a copy of the gray theme.
Quote:
Original post by Kazgoroth
- The calendar links have a mouseover effect (a box around them) in Opera that isn't present in IE or Firefox. Not really an important issue, but I just thought I'd note it.

I know, I've been testing in IE, Firefox, and Opera. I'm trying to get the best look possible/functionality (the mouseover makes it more evident that those number are clickable) for each individual browser without imposing on ease of use.
Quote:
Original post by Kazgoroth
- The font used for "DeVry Crystal City AITP Chapter" in the title banner looks quite unprofessional in my opinion, as does the background behind it (the gray with scattered blue pixel-blocks). It's probably a matter of preference really, but I'd go for something simpler if I were designing the site, rather than the gradient and the odd background.

I'd rather be unique and still efficient and productive.
Quote:
Original post by Kazgoroth
- Your javascript links (left menu) are an accesibility nightmare. The added functionality (appears to just be so you can display the message box) isn't really very useful, but prevents opening the links in a new tab and makes the links completely useless for any visitors who have javascript disabled (yes, it's unusual, but is adding that messagebox really worth breaking the site for those people?).

Those are intentional. I have javascript links so that google doesn't spider them. Those are only for links that go to another domain.
Quote:
Original post by Kazgoroth
- I think it looks slightly odd that the header ends where it does and the content extends as far as it can. I think it would probably look better if you either centred the header, or restricted the size of the content area to match it and then centred the entire page (although this would cramp the layout, especially where that calendar and nav menu are).

The layout is liquid. It's not going to look the same at every resolution, I tried to optimize the use of space.

*edit*
Tomorrow I'll make the buttons more grayish (except for the roll over versions, those don't pose legibilty issues as I see it).

[Edited by - T1Oracle on January 29, 2006 12:40:19 AM]

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That blue theme looks a lot better. One more small thing: the calendar minimize has a '+' when it is big and a '-' when small.... shouldn't this be opposite?

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I agree, the new colours look a lot better.

Oh, and one other problem relating to that calendar mouseover effect in Opera, I believe a screenshot will illustrate it nicely - it's not a real issue, but you can get some weird rendering out of it...

Without the mouse over it:


and with:


It seems to be changing the widths just enough to push things around. Not really a problem, but it does look a little odd.

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I'm going to add to the logo comments. It may be unique, but it doesn't look good. Maybe it would be better if the pixelation were smoother, but that would only help a little. The logo text doesn't stand out very well, either.

My eye, however, is not drawn to the logo, so maybe it doesn't matter. My eye is drawn to the giant hunk of empty space to the right of it. I hate to say it, but the site might look better with a fixed maximum width.

I'd add some extra padding around your body text, as well. At the top, and certainly to the left and right, which jam up against the sides.

So long as you have rollover images, how about rollover text links? The standard blue-to-maroon link doesn't exactly scream 'click me!'

The javascripting on the buttons annoys me greatly. I would like the link opened in a new tab. Others might prefer a new window, but you don't allow that. Why don't you want google involved?

The gradient on the calendar is unusually strong. Also, the +/- seem to be backwards. Perhaps you intended this, but it seems counterintuitive.

My other problems with the site are more large-scale lack of design design issues.

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My impression is that you know how to write websites, but you are quite unfamiliar with basic concepts of Graphic Design.

I made a random googling for 'basic graphic design' and found Basic Graphic Design. It is quite short, but if you read it you will find several things you didn't think about in your design.

Some of them are:

  • You want to fill the whole page with information; don't forget to keep some space unused!

  • Where's the uncolored parts of the site?

  • The lines in a graphic design should not need to be accentuated, but rather inderectly formed by content. On your site you have lots of relativly thick lines that separetes things, for instance between news items.

  • The text line width is waay to far, at least on 1024x768. It worsens the readability. This can be solved by increasing font size (I think too many websites have to small fonts), and creating a column for the calendar on the right. Keep some space unused, remember?

  • One very obvious 'line breaker' is the first news item. Each news item should have a rectangular space, but the top news item is ruined by the calendar and the link menu. I don't think the links should be that accentuated btw.



So the most obvious mistake you have made is the basic graphic design idea of lines. Lines is the thing that users of your site unconsciously follows, but the lines on your site is a bit messed up, and also they are graphicly implemented which they should't need to, at least not that much.

I hope I was more constructive than mean, but to tell you the truth, the site needs some redesign, not technicly, but graphic designly.

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Quote:
Original post by Enselic
So the most obvious mistake you have made is the basic graphic design idea of lines.

Graphic Design is not science, it is art. You cannot make a "mistake" in it, you can only make a descision and from there it's quality is almost entirely subjective. Of course if it impedes upon usability then it is a flaw from a accessibility perspective.

I did take your advice and reducing line thickness. The liquidity of the layout will remain however. The user can always adjust the width of their browser window. They can also adjust the display size of the text in their browser settings. In IE and Opera this will not break the site, and in Firefox there is plenty of room for usable adjustment.

Also, the link you posted was on the design of ads. My site has no advertising, it is not a commercial site, it is for a non-profit club at my school.

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The banner looks a bit better now that it's 'background' stretches all the way across rather than cutting off, although personally I think it looks like it was made with the spray-can in MSPaint and doesn't look particularly professional.

The changes to the main page look a bit better too, it looks more like a coherent page now rather than a series of blocks jambed together.

The re-drawing with mouseover issue I mentioned with the calendar appears to be fixed

Overall, it looks much better than how it started off, keep up the good work.

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Quote:
Original post by T1Oracle
Quote:
Original post by Enselic
So the most obvious mistake you have made is the basic graphic design idea of lines.

Graphic Design is not science, it is art. You cannot make a "mistake" in it, you can only make a descision and from there it's quality is almost entirely subjective. Of course if it impedes upon usability then it is a flaw from a accessibility perspective.

I did take your advice and reducing line thickness. The liquidity of the layout will remain however. The user can always adjust the width of their browser window. They can also adjust the display size of the text in their browser settings. In IE and Opera this will not break the site, and in Firefox there is plenty of room for usable adjustment.

Also, the link you posted was on the design of ads. My site has no advertising, it is not a commercial site, it is for a non-profit club at my school.


Art and Graphic Design are two diffrent things.
Making good Graphic Design is art.

Graphic Design is the practice of designing ads, newspapers, websites and all sorts of work that contains graphics and/or text. To do this there are some simple guidelines that is recomended to follow.

These guidlines can ofcourse be stretched if it makes for the better, but I don't think ignoring these guidelines made your site look better.

The news items look better now. I would, however, add a little padding above and under the header text, and then some more padding between the news items.

I also think your point of letting the users adjust the webpage and increasing the font size manually is on the complete wrong track. The responsibility of a good looking and easy to use site lies on the graphic design guy, not on the users.

Since you in your OP explicitly said you would like feedback, I find it strange and a bit sad that you reject it most of it [sad].

And also, the article I linked to is general, not only for ads...

Now don't get me wrong! Your site has potential, but there is still room for improvment on the graphic design side. I don't want to sound negavite, but I really likes to put my finger on what I think could be done better, so I guess my posts sometimes sound 100% negative, which is not the case here, it is just that I bring forward the negative sides.

References:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graphic_design - Graphic Design is maybe not science, but I would not call it art...
http://slashdot.org/ - An example of clear lines in the design, and a good balance of informationn space and unused space.

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Quote:
Original post by Kazgoroth
The banner looks a bit better now that it's 'background' stretches all the way across rather than cutting off, although personally I think it looks like it was made with the spray-can in MSPaint

I used Photoshop CS2, the intent with it was to get a digital look showing a transition of sampling rates. If you have a better idea on how to achieve that effect I'd love to hear it. I searched good-tutorials.com for some help and found none for the effect I was going for. Anyway, the text also mirrors this theme with a gradient that has a low sampling rate.

Quote:
Original post by Enselic
Since you in your OP explicitly said you would like feedback, I find it strange and a bit sad that you reject it most of it [sad].

Actually I've followed most of it, even the things I rejected initially. I am pressed for time on this task however, and the CMS is the more important part that needs to be rock solid and complete. I'm trying to do both and finish it so that my school can have this site before I leave for a year. (I hope the site is still there when I return.) I posted a thread on here about this depature (check my profile).

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Quote:
Original post by T1Oracle
Graphic Design is not science, it is art.

Wrong. Graphic Design is an application of cognitive science. It is the structuring of visual data in a manner that is objectively aesthetically pleasing and semantically meaningful.

Don't be so quick to dismiss things you don't know anything about.

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Quote:
Original post by Oluseyi
Don't be so quick to dismiss things you don't know anything about.

Wow, do you not see the hypocrisy in that statement?

Regardless, the quality of a given graphic design is still measured largely by opinion. You cannot assign meaningful numbers to the quality of a given graphic design. Furthermore, every form of art has its objective aspects and underlying structures.


Back on the the subject at hand.

The AITP History page has an example of my layout without the calendar. The calendar only appears on the home page, and the events page (and I may remove it from there). All of these pages are generated from the same XSL and CSS stylesheets. To make separate ones for each page would be counterproductive.

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Quote:
Original post by Dhadson
T1Oracle,
I like what you have done with the site. It looks very professional.

Dan

Wow, thank you so much! Some one appreciates all of the sweat and work I put into it.

Not that I haven't found the criticism helpful too, I appreciate all of the responses here that present possible improvements to my site.

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Quote:
Original post by T1Oracle
Wow, do you not see the hypocrisy in that statement?

No, I don't. Would you care to articulate? Can you?

Quote:
Regardless, the quality of a given graphic design is still measured largely by opinion.

Again, I think you are conflating two distinct aspects of graphic design. The aesthetic impact is purely subjective. The structural, however, is not.

But, hey, it's your site.

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Wow. You really don't want criticism on the design, do you?

Also, I see the sight as a bit unprofessional.

Quote:
I used Photoshop CS2, the intent with it was to get a digital look showing a transition of sampling rates. If you have a better idea on how to achieve that effect I'd love to hear it. I searched good-tutorials.com for some help and found none for the effect I was going for. Anyway, the text also mirrors this theme with a gradient that has a low sampling rate.
So do it manually. Blend various ones together. If Photoshop doesn't have a 'Make the perfect image for my site function,' then make it yourself. Yours is simple enough that you could draw every individual block if necessary - there are easier ways than that, but you will find yourself having to edit it manually.

A big part of the current problems with the gradient is the abrupt changes in block-size.

Quote:
Graphic Design is not science, it is art. You cannot make a "mistake" in it, you can only make a descision and from there it's quality is almost entirely subjective. Of course if it impedes upon usability then it is a flaw from a accessibility perspective.
I don't know. I've seen some sites that just scream 'mistake' to me.

Quote:
I did take your advice and reducing line thickness. The liquidity of the layout will remain however. The user can always adjust the width of their browser window. They can also adjust the display size of the text in their browser settings. In IE and Opera this will not break the site, and in Firefox there is plenty of room for usable adjustment.
This is stupid. I don't want to resize my browser for the one site on the web that forces me to. Your site simply does not look good when it's too big! GDev is fine larger, but your site is not!

Quote:
Also, the link you posted was on the design of ads. My site has no advertising, it is not a commercial site, it is for a non-profit club at my school.
I don't even know how to address the blatant... well, you're purposely ignoring (or you're just stupid, I choose to believe you are ignoring) the similarities and usefulness of the advice provided to you.

Please add the damn padding around the text!

Thank you for removing the javascript alert, reversing the +/-, and fixing the text size.

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Avatar God and Oluseyi please stop posting in my thread. I have made every attempt to remain pleasant and you have exhausted that patience. Nothing is more unproffessional than bringing insult into an otherwise respectful debate. In a week I won't see this site for a year so save your replies until then. Thank you.


To everyone else who has provided constructive feedback, thank you rating++ to you. Hopefully I will be able to finish this before I leave.

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