Web Design Goodies Critique #14

By Joe Burns

Concern #2: I'm still on the drop-down menus at the top. You've chosen a series of drop-down menus that do not work when the pointer is over the text. Try it: You have to be just off of the text, yet still near it, for the box to function.

Suggestion: People click on text--not areas. Get a different menu system or repair this one so that people can click on the text.

Also--the menu takes a while to load. Can you find one that loads a little quicker, or will at least stay cached? Even when I reload, it stops and loads again.

Concern #3: You have a very nice bar of letters running just under the plaid square and the train image. I'll bet that took you a long time to code out. It really is attractive. I just have no idea what it does. I found that it performs a search for everything on the site starting with a given letter. For example, if I click on "P", I get a list of activities including "Paper Bag Piqatas" and "Pumpkin Art."

Suggestion: This is a great idea. Keep it. Just make a point of labeling those letters. Tell me what they do--don't assume we'll know, because most people won't. I would suggest putting the label within the bar, either right at the beginning or between the "M" and the "N". Keep the same text font and just nestle the label right in there.

Concern #4: You have gone to great lengths to make sure that the site only goes so wide. Each of your tables is set to a specific pixel, except the second table (the one with the navigation bar that begins "Map, Home..."). That navigation bar is set to 100%, so it spans the width of whatever screen setting I have. That looks great as long as my screen setting is 800X600 or less. If it's larger, then that bar runs way off the right side of the page. It looks out of place.

Suggestion: Get in there and set the width of that table cell equal to the other table cells so it stays in line.

Concern #5: I am concerned about the section that reads "Mommysbiz" and has the image of an infant, with the large train right below it. I think that's backward. The train, which is a navigational element, appears more important than the name of the site. The site itself is important, and you need to make a point of "branding" when the audience first arrives. Tell them the name of the site.

Suggestion: I would reverse the sizes of those two elements. Make the name and the baby image the size of the train, and make the train the size of the logo as you have it right now. If that means losing the train, do it. The name of the site is more important. Go with text navigation for those links in the train, if you need to.

Overall: The site is just beautiful, but it contains a few navigational problems. Design is more than just creating a visually pleasing layout; design must be both beautiful and functional. Which is more important? I would suggest function first, and then design. However, that said, no one likes a functional, unappealing site.

Ah, the life of one who decides to design a Web site....

That's that.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

Always Remember: When it comes to designing your Web site, the most important person is not you, but your user.

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