Web Design Goodies Critique #23

By Joe Burns

Web Design Goodies Critique #23

Published February 22, 2001 By Joe Burns, Ph.D.

The holidays are over and the New Year has begun. I wish I had received this site around November of 2000 . It would have made a nice holiday site to review. Today we'll delve into the celebration of Kwanzaa.

If you don't know much about Kwanzaa, you're in luck because today's site goes out of its way to explain the entire celebration and ceremony of the holiday. I won't get into it, because Fran already does.

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 simply 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 site's purpose for being.<<<<

>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<

Title: Happy Kwanzaa / Author: Fran Clodomar
http://www.doth.com/kwanzaa Load Time: 12 Seconds, 57kps modem, cleared cache, 01/26/01 9:57AM.
My Screen Size: 1024X768
Browsers Used: Internet Explorer 5.5 and Netscape Navigator 4.5

Concept: Everything you've always wanted to know about Kwanzaa, all in one place. I chose to review this site because it reminded me so, so much of the sites my students put together. I tell the students that site content is so important that if you get the content right, then you can just about get everything else wrong and still have success. To that end, students put together sites with fantastic content geared to a single killer app. The problem is that the students come to me and say they just don't like the site. It's full of content, but it just doesn't fly. As one student put it, It doesn't sing yet.

Today's site is just such a place. The author is literally a tweak or three away from a stunning site. I say that because she has the content. If I am attempting to learn about Kwanzaa, this site has it all. I need not go anywhere else. Yes, there are some problems, but the content is there so much so that if the topic interested me, I'd stay in the site.

Howeverif we fix up the site, we're not only offering great content, we're offering great content in a great frame. That's cool. Let's hit it.

Praise: I've said it before. Content. Fran has it and has it all. I'm not concerned about what's there. I'm concerned about how it is displayed.

1. Concern: I shall now perform my swami impersonation. Franyour monitor's screen setting is at 800X600, right? How did I know? Welllook at the homepage in 800X600:

Hey! Pretty nice, huh? Now here it is in 1024X768 (my favorite setting).

Darn. It messed up the entire look of the site. I'll bet you never even saw that coming because you didn't check the page in alternative settings especially larger settings. That is oh so important. One must do that. One must check the site in every screen setting available on the computer.

Suggestion: First you must either find a new background or extend the current background. It's tiling after 800 pixels. See the line again over on the right? Any sideline background must be at least (at least) 1200 pixels wide. 1600 is better. Don't concern yourself with the width. All that extra pixel area will just run off the side of the screen.

Second, you must make a point of surrounding your page's text (all your page's text) in a single table cell set to a specific width. If you're interested mainly in 800X600 monitors, then set that table cell to 750 pixels wide. That way no matter what the screen width, your page does not resize itself to it. The page is stable.

Do this on every one of your pages.

One more thingyou have a different background on almost every page. Lose that at all costs. Use the same background on every page. The backgrounds you use may be similar, but they are still different. It is confusing. Set consistency in the viewer's mind. A consistent background will do that very quickly.


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