Web Design Goodies Critique #20

By Joe Burns

Web Design Goodies Critique #20

Published February 1, 2001 By Joe Burns, Ph.D.

Greetings, Fellow Designers...

Mike Bell is a fellow Ph.D. I have never met him. I dont know Mike Bell, but when I see those three letters following a persons name, I know that we at least have one thing in common. We are both persons who devoted a big chunk of our lives to learning the art of research. Youll often find persons who have a philosophy doctorate will create sites devoted to their craft be it teaching or research. HTML Goodies teaches. Mikes site is devoted to research. Lets take a look.

Now the obligatory release clause statement...

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

Title: Virtual LRC (Learning Resource Center)
Author: Michael Bell, Ph.D.

http://www.virtuallrc.com/

Load Time: 9 Seconds, 57kps modem, cleared cache, 12/26/00 10:59AM.
My Screen Size: 1024X768
Browsers Used: Internet Explorer 5.5 and Netscape Navigator 4.5

Concept: The site explains it this way: The Virtual Learning Resources Center facilitates secondary and community college students in their search for quality information for school and college academic projects. The search engine is dedicated to helping students find hits that assist in research. I address this further in the first concern, but this is the basic idea.

Praise: Its a great idea. Let the students search here where they have a better chance at finding information they can use toward a research project. Searching Yahoo might produce 100 hits that will do nothing but waste time because they have nothing to do with the subject at hand.

In terms of design, I am always happy when I see a site that has taken screen settings into account. Michael has set his page to a width of 720 so that it displays well on all browsers 800X600 and above. Heres a look at the homepage in 800X600 and then 1024X768:

It renders well. I like the format and the color scheme is pretty nice. I wonder if the logo in the upper left- hand corner might not get lost on smaller browsers, but thats an easy fix.

I searched a few words. Wow! It returned a lot of information and a lot of hits. Often, a personal search engine will not have quite the amount of information I want. This does. I think its because Michael doesnt just search his own database, but rather numerous databases specifically geared to finding academic information.

Concern 1: This will be the second search engine page Ill review for this newsletter. When I arrived, I asked myself the same question, I ask of every new search engine, Why would I come here over Yahoo? Yahoo was named the most popular site of the year 2000. It is paired up with Google, which claims to have catalogued the largest number of page on the Web. So...why would I come here?

Suggestion: I read the homepage three times hoping the answer would jump out at me. It wasnt until I went to the About page that I found the quote above that explained the sites reason for being. I would suggest you rewrite what is on the homepage and make a point of stating the sites purpose much more plainly. I would use the text above. It tells the story in a much more concise fashion than does the current homepage text.


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