Feedback on my site please

  Dalglish2 21:54 02 Oct 2005

Hi guys

I'm putting together a site to promote digital information downloads mainly eBooks and audio files.
I've still some way to go but would really appreciate some feedback please on the style, layout etc of the site.
Many thanks - have a good week.

  quack 22:17 02 Oct 2005

Where is the URL of your site?

  Dalglish2 07:25 03 Oct 2005

Sorry! Obviously working too hard!

click here


  PurplePenny 19:07 03 Oct 2005

The main thing that strikes me is that the other stuff, the Amazon column and the news, takes up far too much of the page; it overwhelmes your bit of the page making the items that you are selling seem of little importance.

You are selling e-books so why give another bookshop (Amazon) screenspace? The news is irrelavant to your product so it seems really out of place on the pages anyway.

I'm not keen on "Go on potter around". It gives the impression (coupled with the name of the site) that this is a Harry Potter site.

Did you use voice recognition software to write the FAQ? It needs editing! Here are just a couple of examples:

"If you find it impossible to download any balk at sales for a refund." ("....any book, contact sales ...." ?)

"Be sure to test with a free e-Book before painful one!" ("... before paying for one"?)

Have you looked into Adobe Acrobat's Digital Rights Management? I have no idea whether it is built in to their PDF creation software or whether it costs extra. The user end of it is built into Acrobat Reader from 6.01 and has to be activated. Once in place it controls how many times the file can be downloaded and printed thus preventing piracy.

  Dalglish2 20:14 03 Oct 2005

thanks PurplePenny all this feedback is really helpful. Yes I did use VR software as it happens! Just shows it pays to take care!

Thanks again

  Taran 21:25 03 Oct 2005

I'm assuming your site design and menu is a Project Seven template, hence the footer text and underlying source code.

So requesting feedback "on the style, layout etc" is largely academic based on the fact that it's a template.

This may seem unrealistic or unreasonable, but I have a bit of a pet hate of sites that are wrapped in someone else's work, even if you do preserve their footer dedication. There is nothing there you couldn't create yourself, I am sure.

Project Seven offer some truly superb work, particularly with their menu systems, so the page design looks predictably clean and slick.

My real issue with the site as a whole is that your image content has shoved the entire page off the rails. Nearly half of all your pages fall off my screen on a 15" TFT at 1024x768 using Internet Explorer.

I also tried it on a 15.4" widescreen TFT at 1280x800 on one of my laptops and on a 17" TFT on one of my Linux boxes. All of them required horizontal scrolling to view the eBay content properly, or even at all.

Had you stopped at your own content it would have fitted perfectly at almost any resolution, but the Amazon and eBay content occupies almost as much space again as your own, off to the right of the screen, resulting in a lot of horizontal scrolling.

On your first page with the two book images and welcome text between them, why have you used a single image file for that content ?

No search engine will be able to 'read' your page because it's an image - you also haven't included Alt tag text to describe to both search engines and screen readers what the image is.

You should use an image of each book with actual text between each picture, and give your images suitable Alt tags.

On the plus side you seem to have managed a good balance of image clarity and fair download times.

If I was to make one suggestion it would be to stick to a given template size for all of your pages. Horizontal scrolling is bad enough but when the amount of scrolling varies on a per page basis it becomes really distracting.

Your webdesignnutshell.html page almost gets it just right at 1024x768, with your book content occupying about half of the page and minimal horizontal scrolling required.

However, the main problem is your table dimensions - you've set a fixed table width for your eBay/'What the papers say' content and you've fixed it at 400 pixels wide. For a nice display on 800x600 you should fix your entire page content table to about 760 pixels wide to take browser gutters and whatnot into account. Even at 1024x768, take your 400 pixel wide table away and, well, you do the maths. At 800x600 you leave yourself less than 360 pixels of available screen width for your own content before horizontal scrolling sets in.

My own suggestion here is to ditch the 'What the papers say' content completely and put your eBay image link below the Amazon column in the same table as the Amazon stuff. Delete the 400 pixel wide table your eBay/'What the papers say' content is currently in to free up valuable page space and eliminate (almost) that horizontal scrolling.

The site has promise - I'd like to see it in your own design, and I'd also like to see it without lots of each page falling off screen.

If that sounds unkind then I'm sorry - I'm trying to honestly highlight the main issues as I see them, so don't get disheartened.

  Dalglish2 12:27 04 Oct 2005

Really helpful Taran only wish Id asked for this feedback weeks ago!
My thinking about the eBay and what the papers say news ws trying to add some "sticky" content that might keep the attention longer - it would obviously have the opp effect with regard to the wide scroll.
Im using the same template for all pages but I guess the content differing on ea page is causing ea page to have a different look.
I was aware of this and felt that the template being off the shelf might not be editable - I'll give it a go.
Ref ALT tags - what and where should they be?
I didnt realise robots would not see the home page so will re-design that page and add some text as you suggest.

Many thanks

  Taran 13:07 04 Oct 2005

Alt tags - well, this is the short version...

Alt stands for Alternative and the text is meant to be displayed by a browser when your image fails to load. An ALt tag is also useful as a descriptive alternative to the image.

A picture of the moon could have an Alt tag of "Full moon in November" which basically tells people what the image is before it loads on a slow connection or if it fails to load at all.

Now, just to confuse the issue, although I say it's a descriptive alternative to an image there is also another image tag that does a full and thorough job of describing it in detail, called the longdesc tag.

However, Alt tags are the minimum you should include where you have an image and a couple of words is usually enough.

For some great tutorials and more information thatn you probably want, click here click here or run a search in Google.

If you list your web authoring program then one of us will instruct you on how to assign Alt tags. Dreamweaver, FrontPage, GoLive, NetObjects and so on all have a point and click method of assiging Alt tags to image content.

  Taran 13:09 04 Oct 2005

In adding 'interesting' content you are actually distracting your visitors from the task at hand, which is reading your content, viewing your available purchases and making one.

  Dalglish2 20:05 04 Oct 2005

Dreamweaver MX
thanks Taran

  Taran 20:32 04 Oct 2005

Dreamweaver MX or Dreamweaver MX 2004 ?

highlight an image in design view (click on it once) then on the properties panel at the bottom of your Dreamweaver program window you will see a small Alt: textbox that you can type in. Type something suitable then click on another image, and so on.

Here's a link to a site that describes some of the tools used to make your site accessible click here

It also goes a long way to helping the site work with search engines as well - a good enough reason to make an accessible site even if you weren't planning to at first...

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