Web Design Goodies Critique #7

By Joe Burns

Praise: Up front - the author, Chris Pohle, got the entire concept right. Lime Ricky's are fun drinks. The Web site should be fun. It should look like a party page. He certainly gets that across. Look at the title text. There are lemons and limes. There's a small image of the store all lit up. There's a hot dog squirting itself with catsup. The background is a bright blue sky. All the visual elements are coming together to give the impression of a fun summer day.

Furthermore - Chris has some great design elements. Notice the links are up high where you can easily see them. They are in text that compliments the title text. The text is large so it's hard to miss. The text chosen is small and immediately denotes the link's content. This is a site dedicated to a food store. It would be easy to simply put up a static site that gives directions and/or shows the employees and that's that. Not here. Chris offers specials, printable coupons, and an online store. You can actually do something with this Web site, unlike many others that are little more than a graphical representation of a building.

The home page is only two browser screens in length. That's great. I can read it at a glance and the links are nice and big. I like it. That said, Chris does have one vice. He likes the flashy little tricks. He likes them a lot. In fact, he's got a lawn full of them.

Concern #1: I begin my journey into LimeRicky.com with a JavaScript prompt that wants my name. Research has shown that most surfers are not overly fond of anything popping up without their wanting it to. They are further bothered by something popping up that does not help them. If I am asked to do something for no good reason, then it seems like a waste of my time. Your JavaScript prompt (see the screen captures above) only places my name on the page. I don't know that that is a good enough reason to have a prompt pop up.

Suggestion: If you intend to use the prompt, it's your choice, of course. At least set it up so that it plays against the user. You have the current text "Undefined" in the box. You need to put text in there so that if the user doesn't enter a name and/or just hits enter, or cancel, you get better text on the page than "Welcome to LimeRicky.com Undefined." As I was always told, "If you're going to use an event, use it right."

Concern #2: Your prompt sets a cookie. I know that because I attempted to get the prompt to reappear but couldn't until I erased my temporary Internet Files directory. I am not against cookies, but a lot of people are. My thinking is that if you have no reason to set a cookie, why take the chance at upsetting someone by setting one?

Suggestion: Seeing my name on the pages, and having my own counter at the bottom of the page courtesy of your cookie might not be worth the trouble to me. People who have their cookies turned off will get a prompt on every page. The JavaScript prompt will work without cookies, and the counter really doesn't help you or me at all since it only counts my specific visits. Think seriously about losing the cookie. I think you may upset more people than you impress.

Concern #3: You have a scroll in the status bar. The scroll doesn't say anything that the homepage doesn't say itself. My research has shown that status bar scroll are "liked/not liked" at about 50%/50% of the audience. The reason half my respondents noted for disliking the scroll is that it covers up the text that appears when they put their pointer over top of the links.

Suggestion: Look at the page and the scroll. Yes, it's clever - but is it really helping your page? Since it reads the same as the page itself, maybe you could lose it.

Design Image

Concern #4: When I go to any other page on the site, I get there by watching a Power-Point-type page change done through this command:

<meta HTTP-EQUIV="Page-Enter" CONTENT="revealtrans(duration=6.0, transition=23)">

You have that on every page. You have it set to two parameters. The first is six seconds for the transition, and the second is "23" for the transition. That means random.

I have no trouble with these transitions. Some really dislike them, but I'm not against them. The only thing I have against them is time length. Six seconds is a long time, especially when I can see the page I want to read coming in.

Suggestion: Fast, fast, fast! Speed, speed, speed! If you want to use one of these transitions - go fast. Set them to one second. I'll get the cool effect and it'll happen quickly.

Concern #5: One more thing about the transitions. You have it set to random. That means one of 22 different page transitions is going to happen. I have found that people actually dislike that. People like consistence. The best method, I think, of using the format is to make it appear as if the page is being "turned." That's the transition from the lower right corner up.

Suggestion: You needn't set each page to make that change - but you may want to try a more static number of changes. However - understand that I'm not basing this on any real research. It's my opinion from what I have heard and the research I have done.

Overall: This site is a winner! There's no question that Chris loves this site and that he's put his heart and soul into it. It's well constructed and relays the feeling of a day when you just might like a Lime Ricky. The page is only hampered by a few too many tricks of the trade. None of them add to the site and because there are so many, they almost get in the way. Pick one. Maybe you can pick two. Either way, keep the law of lawn ornaments in mind.

One gazing ball might not be too bad. Maybe a small statue of a rabbit. Three butterflies going up the side of the house is starting to be too much. A silhouette of a guy leaning against a polea cut out of a woman in bloomers bending over.

Too many! Too many!

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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