TITLE:introduction/newsletter_archive/design/design05A.html

By Joe Burns

Concern #1: The background on the home page is stunning, but the background changes on each page after the home page. There is still a consistency because the backgrounds are all sidelines running down the left side of the browser screen, but I still would have liked to see the same, or at least a similar, background used across the pages.

Suggestion: Pick a background and stick with it. I see that you use the title to keep a sense of consistency, but I don't think that it is enough.

Concern #2: Look at the page that appears when you click on "Journey." The background is repeating itself at the 800-pixel mark.

Suggestion: If you use a sideline background format, make the background image at least 1600 pixels wide to allow for all screen sizes, or you'll get that repeating syndrome.

Concern #3: You have a hit counter on each of the subheading pages. It's down at the bottom and it reads "Enter." That was rather confusing since you have an "Enter" page at the beginning of the site. You have a page that simply explains what the site is and then asks the user to click a button to enter. Since you did that original "Enter" page, when that hit counter appears at the bottom of the subheading pages (Essays, Journey, Poetry, etc.) and says "Enter," I think I have to click on it to enter. I do and I'm taken off the site. That's not good.

Suggestion: First off, I would lose the original enter page, but you may not want to. Whether you do or don't, please pull the hit counter image down. It doesn't go with the rest of your site and can confuse the audience.

Concern #4: The site wants to be its own domain. I think you want the site to be its own domain. It appears to be its own domain, but it's really a redirect to the Angelfire servers. I can tell it's Angelfire from the many banners you are required to use, plus the status bar that shows Angelfire every time I put my pointer on a link. Finally, because the redirect must happen every time I click, the site loads very slowly. A couple of times, it slowed to a full halt. I gave up and chose another link.

Suggestion: Either set it up as its own domain for real, or just use the real URL. Angelfire may be free, but the banners look way out of place and the site is slowed considerably.

Concern #5: This is the concern I had when I first entered the site. It's also the concern I mentioned way at the top of the newsletter. This is what I call a "stacked" format. A stacked format is one that has little or no left-to-right movement across the pages. It's stacked. The HTML code is

[element]
<P>
[element]
<P>
[element]
<P>
[element]
<P>

It forms a page that moves vertically only. I must scroll to see new things. The pages take two browser screens to display. If you actually made it so that text ran alongside the logo and items stacked more in columns than one on top of another, you could easily get it all on one browser screen.

Suggestion: The eye wants to move from left to right down the page. Let it. Try to avoid simply stacking one element on top of another.

Overall: I like this site. You may notice that I like all the sites I critique. That's on purpose. It's hard to critique a site you dislike and stay objective. This site represents what a lot of people believe the Web should be, a place where people can come together, share information, and be the better for it. Bravo for this site. Hopefully my comments can help you make the site better, faster, ten pounds lighter, two inches taller, and a better dancer.

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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