5376: Blog for Week 8: Website Feedback

Okay, here we go with the feedback. I’ll just say that, as a writing teacher, I have a pretty hard time restraining my comments, so I’ll try to keep it short, but will make few promises.

[Note 1–I’m posting the first half or so of these now, and will edit in the rest this evening or tomorrow afternoon.]

[Note 2–As expected, I didn’t even try to keep it short.]

[Note 3–I’ve been sitting here in my warm office so long that my arms have stuck to the table, so it’s easier to keep adding Notes than to just stop typing.]

[Note 4–Check out this awesome Charlie Brown video if you’ve got five minutes or so.]

Jessica: I have always been impressed with your choice to stick it all out there and be personal, especially with a topic that’s often tricky and sometimes hard for people to talk about. One of the recent (at least since the last time I’ve looked at it) things that I like is your links page. You’ve kept it quite simple and limited yourself to 2-4 links in most of these categories; many sites provide more links than can realistically be sifted through in a list, but these are carefully chosen and targeted. One thing that might add to your site is one or two more colors; other than pictures, you pretty much stick to blue/white/gray. While it’s clean and muted, emphasizing the content over the design, I think that you could add further emphasis to page elements (headers, etcetera) by adding just one more color–something that contrasts and really moves the eye around the page, you know? The Book Review page could make more visual sense as well. Your review (which is the whole point of the page) is in a smaller font than the excerpt (and off the inital screen), and thus is deemphasized. (I do like the green, though).

Sharba: Cool homepage! I like the contrast of light and dark blue and the big headers/small content. I can see how both of us were influenced by that site you shared a few weeks ago, and it’s had some nice results. One thing I like is the very hypertextual nature of your (very thoughtful) prose narratives–it’s something that I think you could expand upon, adding more hyperlinks if you wanted to (although you can overdo these, of course). One thing to improve upon–I feel like there are things i’m not seeing (and when I switch from Firefox to IE7, I find that there are images that may not be coming up). I think you could incorporate more visuals (whether photographs or more symbolic icons) into your narrative and bring a more symbolic dimension to your temporal metaphor.

Dominic: The thing I like most about your site is that it’s very vibrant. The orange just pops off of the screen, and the off-parallell lines (I think I’ve mentioned this in class) are very appropriate for a personal site. They set a great tone. I think you could have a lot more going on with your image maps. Because you have two image maps in a row (the door on entering the site, and then the bar on the second page), they’ve quickly become the way that we expect to interact with your site. But that really only holds true on the first two pages. On the “info desk” there’s another big front & center image that–counter to my expectations–doesn’t link to anything. It doesn’t really even have to be something within the site (which is something I’m playing around with on my own splash page). But what I’ve already learned through exploration (to take it back to Meadows) doesn’t apply when I get this far; now I have to re-learn how to affect the plot of your site. Cool site. (And are those wax sculptures or mannequins? Weird.)

Shawna: I love the primary colors. It’s very professional and really nice to just sit and look at and play with (as you get into the navigation and motion). I just sat and clicked around and watched your pages move around, and I was really entranced. It was fun! The way that your page uses horizontal space as well as vertical space is pleasant as well–I feel like if you add to things, I’d scroll off to the right, and I’m not bothered by that sentiment at all. I wonder if there’s a way to make the movement more fluid from your entry page to the rest of the site–to make the colored blocks move quickly back up to the top when you click on a menu item (and then back down), rather than just the cold switch that it is now. I don’t know–that may be too much time to take up (from a user’s perspective), but it might be an interesting way to make the motion of the site more continuous.

Adrian: I really like how motion is very much at the center of your website. The buttons, the links, even the flower make your page very alive. (And I hope you’re able to bring your avatar in at some point, as that’ll be an interesting dimension, I’m sure. That, and I know you like it!) I really do think the glowing flower should DO something. The position and motion is great–it draws us down into the (rather small) text, but almost too quickly for something that doesn’t actually do anything. I feel like motion should have a purpose. (I often think of those horrible little spinning .gifs that I always get in emails from my grandmother. They take forever to load, but I don’t even look at them because they don’t do anything. Why, God? Why?!) I also think that the wix flash element is nice, but pretty much everything but your photo gallery is somewhere else on the web. How can you coordinate the design of these elements more closely so that it’s not such a jarring change from the central site to your resume/blog pages?

Carie: As I’m looking at your site right now, I see that you resolved the image and alignment issues that had been bugging you so much. Congratulations! Sometimes getting that one thing that’s been a problem right can make a big difference in how you feel about your project (I know from recent experience!). I like how your design is highly functional–it does exactly what it needs to do and doesn’t mess around with trivialities and frivolity, as is necessary for the very specific audience that you have in mind. One small improvement: you might consider making the bullet list on your first page hyperlinks (The “You can use this page to access” section) . Since you have hyperlinked bullet lists on most of your other pages, it makes sense to bring that means of exploring the site there as well.

Another (highly unrelated) thing comes to mind for me, having also thought about course resource pages: is ECS3390 the only course you plan to have a page for? Is this “it” or are there other courses that you’ll eventually integrate into your website as well? Or will different courses have separate and disconnected sites? How will your design change as your courses change? (Perhaps more of a meta- question than you want at the moment, but there ya go!)

Ashley: Your site is also very professional; I like the big blocks you use for your header and to highlight important details about yourself an
d your projects. Others have commented on using hyperlinks in some of your side boxes, so I’ll try to consider another area. You might consider integrating your name into the top left of each of your banners–this would cut down on the large section of white space at the very top of the page. The large side margins are nice, but I don’t think they work as well at the top and bottom. Because of the top margin, your large banner takes up most of the screen, and the content’s a lot further down each page. Cutting down on those margins might make up for that. Otherwise, I like this homepage a lot. I like blue & black, and you’ve got a lot of them here!

Melody: The joy of site templates! This is exactly the reason why I’ve resisted taking on my own department’s lackluster homepage yet–I’m not yet sure what I’ll do within the confines of the system that’s already set out. Kudos on designing an image that really looks like it belongs in the TTU site system. That is, the image quality and color are excellent, and the text you’ve got really matches the style of the rest of the site. I think that one simple addition that would make a big difference would be incorporating a few smaller images into the rest of your pages (a headshot, a picture of you in the lab, a cover of one or two of the journals you’ve published in, etcetera). With the picture being the central element of the main page, we expect it (and this holds true for university sites as a genre) to have them inside, too.

Rebecca: This is a cool design. Love the very big spoon! One element that I like is the akimbo lettering in the background; it’s personal and fun without distracting from the professional elements of your site. Can you make the central content element resize with the rest of the page? Because of how the positioning or layers are set up, your menu disappears behind your content. If you plan to stick with geocities hosting, then you might figure out something to work around the limitations it presents. (If you’re not, then it’s not as pressing of a problem.) Also, are there projects that you’ve worked on that you could show off here?

Brett: First time I loaded your site, I thought my office phone was ringing. After the initial momentary confusion, I really was drawn in to your metaphor. First of all, the “Laugh” app. The laughter is… Wow. Gets almost (snort snort?) creepy! I like it. It’s just fun and weird and cool. I like how easy it’ll be to add on to your site–just plug in a new app link, and you’re done! I think that your portfolio page could have more obvious navigation and structure–could you pull some element of the iPhone metaphor into your other pages? Perhaps having some application icons in a menu bar to the top or right of your content would draw these together; this would allow you some opportunities to not only extend your metaphor, but keep a similar system for moving around the site. You might even be able to code these into your blogs as well. I think you have a neat concept overall, and it definitely stands out for creativity among the group!

Monica: This is a very attractive site: the color, the speed with which it loads, the background images, all are great elements. I’m particularly impressed with your MW logo–very, very nice. I think it’s a great visual design, and you’re definitely using imagery to communicate some good things about yourself here. I wasn’t quite sure why you included only five links at the top of each internal page, rather than all six. I really have to notice that the five links at the top aren’t the same on each page. You might add a table column back in, but have the color darkened for the current page. (Actually, on further exploration, there are six links on the writing/animation/design pages, but not on the others. Choice or accident?) You might also change your hyperlink color scheme to match with your design. On your writing page especially, there’s all of a sudden a page full of blue hyperlinks that don’t really match other pages. You’ve got a great site here, and it really shows you off very accurately!

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9 thoughts on “5376: Blog for Week 8: Website Feedback

  1. Chris, Funny you mention the ringing. When I first added that sound, I had a ring that cycled maybe 10 or 12 times. One of my students logged on to the site shortly afterward and said she spent a few minutes rushing around her house trying to find her phone. So I shortened that to two rings (one didn’t seem quite enough to stimulate action; three or more seemed overkill). Your suggestion to extend the phone metaphor inside the other pages is a great one. I have hopes (and even some plans) about how to do that. I think I’m getting pretty close to launching one of those ideas. But, of course, the coding and production of an idea isn’t as fun as thinking about it. So I’ve been bogged down in ActionScript and Flash tutorials. I hope to have something ready by the end of the term or sooner. Again, thanks for the comments and inspiration. – Brett

  2. Good ideas, Chris, on the inconsistency with the links. I’ll look into it more and likely modify it for better navigational consistency. I, too, dislike the blue hyperlink element on the writing page. In general, I think the writing sample page will likely be revamped completely after having seen how others have handled similar content on their websites. I also need to figure out why when this site is viewed in Internet Explorer not only do I have justification issues (I know what caused these), but my graphic links on the portfolio pages and the word portion of my menu links are also outlines in bright blue hyperlink which as you note doesn’t match the color scheme at all. Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Monica, I’m sure it’s just got something to do with IE rendering tables differently than other browsers. There’s usually a difference of about a pixels’ worth in IE tables and horizontal rules. (Of course. Because IE is worthless. As usual.)

  4. @Brett: 10 or 12? Wow! I just remember sitting and listening to that laughter keep going and going and going. It was great.Good luck with your Flash learning! (Mine is going horrifically slowly.)

  5. Chris, I love the bullet idea. Thanks! And no, I will not be teaching any other classes for at least a year. I’m in the School of Engineering at UT-D, and we only teach one Prof Comm class in that school. However, I may return to UNT to teach, and if I do, I’ll have several classes for which I’ll create pages. 🙂 Just cannot think about that now. I need to finish this degree first!

  6. Chris,You asked for clarification on one of the comments I made about your site so I’ll respond here to make sure you see it. When I talked about formatting your name header on your hompage and the interior pages the same, I was just referring to the choice of font, its size and styling and considering that how you treat it on the inside pages might be how you want to treat it on the homepage. There seems to be a slight difference between the two. On your podcasts, I wonder if you could use more of a movie player with a screen that would set it off from the rest of the links. You could create a title page that could sit on the screen portion of the player that announces the title of your podcast and author, date of creation, copyright notice, etc. Or I wonder if you could keep the link in the list without the player and when you click on the link for the particular podcast episode the podcast player could pop up in a second column to the right of the tags. I’m just not sure; it might be one of those things that you play around with placement and it takes many attempts before you land on something that you like. It still works well how you currently have it.

  7. Chris, thanks for the excellent feedback. I hadn’t considered making the blocks slide up the page for the interior pages, but I think it’s totally possible, and might help the sense of continuity, as you suggested!

  8. Thanks for your feedback, Chris! I really like your suggestion about integrating my name into each of my banners. I don’t like all the white space either, but I wasn’t sure how to deal with it. I will give that a try because if I could pull that off successfully, I think it would make my site great. You always have great ideas!-Ashley

  9. Hi Chris,Thanks for your feedback. I completely agree with you about expanding the content on the site. As far as the images go, I put placeholders on a couple of my pages assuming that they wouldn’t show up on the browser. Unfortunately, they did. Sorry about that.Sharba

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