Web Design Goodies Critique #11

By Joe Burns

Concern #1: Here's an overall comment: You have so many whiz-bang effects on this page that it became annoying quicker than it should. I couldn't move my mouse without the page flipping or thing popping up. I understand wanting to be interactive, but you've got so much going on that I spent a short bit of time simply trying to pick a path that my mouse could follow without effects.

Suggestion: You don't need all of that, especially the flip to a new page that pops up when I run my mouse over the text at the top of the Flash page. Simple roll-overs that have some effect, but not such a wild effect will do much better and tire the user a lot less than what you have.

Concern #2: Creating something that's equal to a well-known Web service like a search engine means you've got to offer an equally good service. There are search engines, you're a search engine. You must make your service at least equal hopefully better than what is already being offered. Yes, I know you state that you are a "Link Engine" and not a search engine. That's playing with semantics. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck... people will think it's a duck. You are pushing the concept of ease-of-use since you pick the result for the user rather than offering them a great deal of choices. I would suggest that this is not what people want.

Suggestion: You may want to look into setting up the site so it offers some choice. Picking a site to automatically send the user to creates a problem if what you offer isn't what the user wants. I can't get any other results from your site other than what you offer.

Concern #3: I see on the firewall page that you are tracking your users, at least where they are located and when they came in. Are you also tracking their searches? If you're not, you should.

Suggestion: I searched for "cow." It's a search word I use when I log into a search engine for the first time. I got nothing back. I understand why, but what if I stopped back tomorrow and searched "cow." Would something come up? It should. I just proved that someone will search for "cow." You need to offer that word. Yes, I see that someone can offer a new iWord, but you simply cannot rely totally on those suggested words. You need to offer words to the database. If one person searched the word, another might, too.

Concern #4: You state that the search engine will also work if I enter a URL. I entered "Htmlgoodies.com" and up it came. Is that really a feature?

Suggestion: What is the difference between my putting the domain in your search engine and my putting the domain in the location bar? I would drop that suggestion from the page.

Concern #5: If I roll my mouse over the text at the top of the Flash page, I am taken to another page that tells me how to use the search. It tells me to enter a word and you'll take me there. I tested that theory and entered words that appeared on that page. No luck. I received three "no results" out of five searches. I was searching for words you said were there. They weren't.

Suggestion: At least make the site deliver what you are promoting. If the site suggests I can look up "decimal birthday" and I enter "decimal," then it should work.

Overall: This is a classic case of coding before thought. The site is a good idea. The basic concept is sound, but I think that you attacked the coding before you took the time to fully think out the format and how you would support it. The Flash is impressive and I'm sure the pages that come up are very impressive even to those who code Flash but it's not enough to simply look good. There an old advertising saying that goes, "You can package dog food in the most beautiful packaging available, but it's still dog food." I'm not saying your site is dog food, please don't take that last statement that way. I offer it only to say that you have stunning packaging here that's wrapped around a site that doesn't do what it says it's going to do.

Get back to the drawing board and think through the mechanics of the site. That's where the majority of the brainpower need to be focused right now.

That's that.

Joe Burns, Ph.D.

Always Remember: When it comes to designing your Web site, the most important person is not you, it's your user.

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