70% Through a Redesign, Comments Required

  Proclaimer 18:00 08 Apr 2008
Locked

on the old site first.

Hello,

I have shied away from posting for direct advice on site content in this forum but I think I need to get over myself and ask. The background is that I have a site here click here and it has been running for two years.

The site has been evolving over that time and it has now become an eyesore to me so I have started a new design (almost finished in fact).It still serves its original purpose but I know it is 'fat'.

So I would like to ask you to take a look at my current site in order to point out the 'Good, The Bad & The Ugly' and then I will come back in a few days with the new site and see if your opinions change having seen something to compare the new site with.

I may even post what I have of the new site on my other 'virgin' domain so you can compare both if you think that would be helpful.

Thanks.

  ArrGee 10:56 10 Apr 2008

I would have to agree with the comment on Planet Rock. It really does detract from the site's home page. There is quite a bit of over-use on the centralising of text. An example is the "Would You Like A Free Call Back" box. This would look better if the logo is placed to the right and the text aligned to the left. Too many different fonts. Personally I would stick with san-serif all the way through. The navigation buttons could do with more definition instead of the floating text you have at present. The picture of the two girls seems to relate to the Planet Rock ad instead of your content. Boxes around the text makes it look too busy and cluttered.

The buttons have a strange ordering. Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy and Contact Us normally come last. Can't wait to see the final redesign!

  Proclaimer 15:41 10 Apr 2008

and here is my 'beta' if you like. click here
it is in a folder on another domain so not available to customers yet.

Some images are either missing or in need of sizing, otherwise the content is set in... well jelly for now.

The Planet Rock link is a very good example of what happens when the owner of the site gets to design and build the site. He (I) forgets that it is a business site and not a soap box!

  Forum Editor 22:01 10 Apr 2008

that as far as I'm concerned, the beta site suffers from the same problem as the original - it appears as a jumbled mass of disorganised information - so much so that the eye jumps around all over the place, and it's very difficult to make much sense of it all. It takes an eternity to load, too, but no doubt you'll be working on that.

The layout is all wrong - it took me precious seconds to locate the navigation links, for instance, and that's a definite problem. If people can't see your navigation buttons/links almost instantly they'll click away. Most internet users instinctively look for a navigation bar on the left of a homepage.

Your main problem is this lack of organisation - why have you got 'privacy policy' and 'terms of use' as text links separate from the other navigation links, and in a completely different font and colour? There are far too many different font sizes and colours jumbled across the pages, and this adds to the sense of confusion.

Time and space prevent me from listing all the design errors, but there are many of them. I suggest that you think about a complete redesign, and keep in mind that 'less is more' when it comes to layout and presentation - keep things very simple, and don't try to cram everything onto your homepage - use it to entice your visitor to explore the site, and keep all the detail for the inside pages. Stick to one or two fonts at most, and use two point sizes only - one for headers and one for body text. Don't scatter blocks of background colour around, just for the sake of it, and keep that 'call back' button away from the homepage; its place is on the 'contact' page, and nowhere else.

A clean, open look will work wonders. Take a look at the new BBC news site to see a really fine example of layout at its best.

click here

  Proclaimer 22:07 10 Apr 2008

I am pleased with them too. I will start again.

In the mean time, is the beta better than the posted site, I really want that one down as soon as I can. I thought I was making progress but another re-design will take a good few days. So which is better to have online for now?

  Proclaimer 00:54 11 Apr 2008

I hope it is just the server. I have moved the folder over to my server (well the host). Can you try that load time again please?
click here

  Forum Editor 15:43 11 Apr 2008

it's loading faster.

I can see that you're getting to grips with this now, and it already looks much better. Try to think 'layout' every time you want to add something - now that you have some good nav buttons why not run them along beneath your 'Welcome to Marleyman' banner? They're a little large, so if you can reduce the size so much the better.

You could also lose that text underneath the banner - you've laid out the options very nicely on the page, and there's no point in saying the same thing twice.

I would remove that group of icons and the coloured stars from the header, and perhaps pop another image into the space. Once you've done that, leave it alone - you'll have an attractive, easy to read homepage. Just make sure your header images are the best you can find - they'll hold the attention long enough for people to want to find out more.

  Proclaimer 12:07 13 Apr 2008

FE, less IS more, I have heard that said so many times before and I did not think it was relevant for the site. Having stripped the home page to the bare bones, or as much as I feel comfortable with, I can instantly see that what I had before and as a re-design was totally wrong.

Thank you very much for the feed back *shakes his hand* it was way over due.

Ok, anyone else, take a look and let me know what you see, particularly if you use Firefox. I have looked at it with Firefox and the 'hot spot' images on the home page do not show up. I think that is a local setting on my browser but I could be wrong.

The site is on the live page now and can be reached from my first post on this topic.

Thanks.

  Proclaimer 21:53 13 Apr 2008

are you using the correct link? There is no load issue from my side on either my XP box or my '98 box.

Maybe you went to the beta site or maybe there is an issue and my BB connection is too quick to notice. The whole site is under 3 mb. Check you were on ...marleyman.co.uk and not the kennym/ntl host.

I looked at that error page and I have to admit it could all be in French for me. I have no idea what 'Byte-Order Mark found in UTF-8 File.' means for example.

I know this means I should learn HTML but I doubt that is going to happen any time soon.

The Firefox issue does concern me but you make no mention of not 'not seeing' the hot spot imahes on the home page so I hope that means there is an issue with my Firefox settings only.

and Thank you.

  Peripheral SQL 17:26 14 Apr 2008

i have been following this topic with interest
looks so much better than the original
like the more minimal look
agree with FE the bbc site is excellent

the 'welcome to marleyman...' banner needs to be at the top of the screen
it is what defines the page, it's your business, and needs a bigger font
look at the pcadvisor page, there's no doubt which website you're on!
lose the welcome bit, just 'marleyman digital archiving', big style

the search the site bit needs to go under the navigation buttons
though is it necessary at all?
the two banners 'digital archiving/positive thing...' float a bit
either meet them together for better symmetry
or lose them and go for the bigger banner eg

MARLEYMAN DIGITAL ARCHIVING
"Keeping memories alive"
or summat like that
love the pictures, brilliant colours

the two images at the foot of the page wp67d6bde2.png and wpfb5817d8.png
don't render properly in firefox 2.0.0.13 or when i switch to IE tab
prefer .gif to .png, notice various rendering problems with them
the site is slow to load

overall though the page inspires more confidence and professionalism
and more importantly looks better than some similar sites
click here, click here, click here
click here was the best designed of similar google search results

  Forum Editor 17:20 15 Apr 2008

even though it's faster than before. Loading speeds are very important indeed, people are very impatient with slow-loading sites, and you'll definitely lose traffic if you don't do something about it.

My gripe now is with that header banner - it should be consistent throughout the site. I would run the two blue text panels together; have your 'Digital archiving - it's the positive thing to do' message all in one panel, and all in one style. On a good site you can click from page to page and all that moves is the content - the header should be rock solid - no jumps. If you want to put different images below your strapline do so, but make them identical sizes.

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