Web Design Goodies Critique #12

By Joe Burns

Greetings, Fellow Designers,

When I teach HTML to a class, the final project is always for the student to build a Web site of their own. Often the students will want to build a personal site, but somehow feel a personal site is not "as good" as a site for a business or an organization. I disagree. A well done personal site can be great, and can get you in touch with others on the Web that enjoy the same things you do. Students who are looking for work can use their site like an expanded resume.

Today we'll look at personal site that has a name that jumped out at me when I saw it: Charlotte's Web.

Now the obligatory release statement...

>>>>The critique below represents the opinions of Joe Burns, Ph.D. Feel free to disagree with, argue about, forget, or accept anything he writes. The purpose of the critique is to offer examples that you may use to revise your site, or forget about when it comes to your own Web site. As always, remember that there are simply no hard and fast rules to Web design. Any choice is the correct choice as long as that choice aids the user and fulfills the site's purpose.<<< <


Title: Charlotte's Web / Author: Charlotte Dickte
http://home.thirdage.com/Travel/chado63/ Load Time: 21 Seconds, 56.6Kbps modem, cleared cache, 9/4/00 11:06 A.M.
My Screen Size: 1024X768
Browsers Used: Internet Explorer 5.5 and Netscape Navigator 4.5

Concept: This is a personal page, nothing more, nothing less. It is everything Charlotte wants it to be and it contains the content she wants it to contain. That's good. Too often people believe the Web must be reserved for great pages that talk about great people who do great things. Bunk. Charlotte has a Web site and her Web site is made up of what she likes. She even has a page dedicated to her new puppy. Good for her.

Praise: First off, I really enjoyed reading through some of the pages. The narrative is pretty good. I enjoyed that fact that there were a ton of photos, but I didn't have to look at any of them unless I wanted to. That showed some concern for the viewer. The pages loaded quickly and I found myself moving around pretty easily. That's good.

Concern #1: Let's begin with what I see when I first come into the site. Here's the home page:

Click for larger image

I have my monitor set to a larger setting, 1024X768. The vast majority of people on the Web have their monitors set to 800X600. I need to scroll down at least one screen to get to your banner header. Here's the banner header:

Click for larger image

Suggestion: Your home page should be a welcome mat. It should scream out what the page is all about, and it should do it quickly. At the moment, yours doesn't. My assumption is that you simply add items when they become available without considering the rest of the page's design. Something new simply gets stacked on top and all other elements move down. You can't think that way. You must see the page as a whole. When an element is added to the page, the design must incorporate that element.

Incorporate. Don't simply add.

Concern #2: I know it looks good, but a black background causes so many problems. Printing is the biggest. Now, you may say that no one would want to print any of these pages. That may be, but even so, you have text in a myriad of colors from page to page, and if a print did occur, the page would print with a white background and oddly colored text.

Suggestion: I'm not telling you to get rid of the black background, but think it through a bit. If no one ever prints, then maybe you're good to go. If they do, there may be problems.




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