Web Design Goodies Critique #17

By Joe Burns

Web Design Goodies Critique #17

Published January 11, 2001 By Joe Burns, Ph. D.

Greetings, Fellow Designers

Hey buddy...wanna buy a condo? I'm writing this critique the same day my mother and father will arrive in their new Florida condo. After 30 years in Cleveland, Ohio, the Burns parents are picking up and moving to the sunshine state. While going through my list of possible critique sites, I ran across the Destin Condo Search page by Isabel Smith Art & Design Studio.

It seemed like fate...let's take a look.

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 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 sites purpose for being.<<<<

Title: Destin Condo Search / Author: Isabel Smith
http://www.destincondosearch.com/A> Load Time: 12 Seconds, 56-Kbps modem, cleared cache, 12/3/00 7:39 A.M.
My Screen Size: 1024X768
Browsers Used: Internet Explorer 5.5 and Netscape Navigator 4.5

Concept: Its time to give up that cold northern climate, move south, swim in the ocean, and complain about the voting system. When you move, youre going to need a place to stay. Thats what this site is all about. The Destin area is a real hot spot these days. I live in New Orleans and every time I talk about a weekend getaway, two areas always come up as suggestions: Biloxi for gambling, and Destin for fun in the sun.

This site is made up like your traditional real estate site. The listings are posted and the user gets to look a little bit before they buy. I used just such a site when I was looking for homes before I moved south, and I have a list of things I like and dislike about real estate sites. Allow me to apply them here.

Praise: First and foremost, the site is fast. Maybe its just that I am on a DSL, but I dont think so. The pages are not filled with image after image. They load quickly and fully. Also I like the hierarchical format you used for navigation. I can easily get around the site. The navigation has an intuitive feeling to it. Its almost as if you know what I am going to want next when I click to a new link. I dont remember coming across a link that didnt offer what I wanted next. My guess is that you designed the navigation as if a realtor was taking me around in a car to see the properties. Which leads me to my next point...

Any time you put together a site that is to be a mirror of face-to-face contact, you must at least equal what the -face-to-face contact will be. This includes any business site, any retail site, and, of course, a real estate site. If what I find online isnt as good as what I can do in person, then its quite possible that I will feel my time in the site was a waste of time because I have to go to the realtor anyway. In all business site construction, I strongly urge against using the site as little more than bait to get the people to come to you. If you create a site that gives just enough information to whet the persons interest, but no more, hoping to get the person in front of you, you probably wont succeed. I get irritated at that. My thinking is, If I wanted to come see you, I would have come to see you. I want to look on the Net first. OKlets start looking.

Heres the home page:

Design Image

Concern #1: The home page is sleek, and the navigation is easy to figure out. I also like the rollover image that goes from a ball to an arrow. I just think the page is dull. Theres a lot of white space...probably too much.

Suggestion: In e-business, your home page is your storefront. Stopping into a home page is a lot like window-shopping. You are a realtor. Use that white space to give the reader a good bang. On the right side of the links, put the Deal of the Week. or The Most Expensive One We Have, or something to that end. Dont laugh at that expensive statement. I wrote commercial copy for a long time and price sells especially a high price. Im serious.

All that aside the home page is not being used at all. Its little more than a list of links. Give me a deal right then and there. Give me the one thats been marked down or just went up on the market. Sell me one right off the bat.





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