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  1. #1
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    Cool site redesign with AJAX

    Hey everyone,

    I decided it was time to redesign my online portfolio in hopes of attracting more freelance development work.

    Current site: http://www.akawebdesign.com
    Redesign : http://dev.akawebdesign.com

    I'm still working on the content, but the idea is to advertise my skills as a software designer (using AJAX). I'll be adding more projects to the 'portfolio' section, but you'll basically see the idea I'm shooting for.

    I'm also thinking about putting a Silverlight animation at the top (where my logo is), but I haven't had time to design it yet.

    I appreciate all feedback - in fact, I'm looking forward to it. Thanks!!!

  • #2
    Senior Coder jerry62704's Avatar
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    Sorry, but I kind of like it the way it is with the redesign. Wish I could offer some suggestions. But (and there is always a but), you are using javascript to do the cool hide menu thing. When I turn off javascript it is screwed up - and a lot of people have it turned off.
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  • #3
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    yeh on your new site (I like the logo), I see nothing but the logo because I have JS turned off.

    I don't know how many people browse like me but I leave a site where I can't navigate it without js. Different if I have a choice.

    Often, I am suspicious of a site which would force me to turn on JS because it must have a reason to force me. The only reason I can think of is that they want me to receive hidden content such a malware etc.

    I think it is OK to have a JS driven navigation provided you give the user the choice of which they use ~ a JS one or an html/suckerfish one.

    In case it has got lost in the whole message, I do like your new logo.

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  • #4
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Woah woah woah slow down. Stop the AJAX train. Your new design is fine IF you want to show off that stuff, but I don't think it should ever suffice as your actual website. So this review has two parts, this one as a suggestion to make a website instead of a pseudo-ajax-web-browser-site, and then I'll give suggestions if you wish to proceed with the ajax page. Its hard to make much of a review about the design since its basically just a full-site-utilization of an AJAX concept.

    So first, AJAX is a useful utility, but it doesn't make a page. Content makes a page, and slick interfaces don't work unless there is content to support it. I only use Javascript to make the site have extra features, and as pointed out above, it should not be relied upon to make the page function. Many people turn it off or certain browsers/screen readers dont use it. Also I think it has SEO implications if a bot cannot quickly and easily browse the site. I can't find this link, but once I read a good article about things designers sometimes try to do with websites. One of them was not to emulate features or functions of the browser blatantly. In this case we have a tabbed browser interface, but using this assumes that your visitors have a grasp of tabs and can figure out how to use them on your page. I think its easy to forget how pages look to others once you've looked at it for a long time. A site shows your abilities when you can be sure that someone 15, 35, and 55 can figure it out without thinking. So all this boils down to using AJAX wisely in ways that enhance the user experience. I think in this case it just attempts to show you know how to use Javascript. I would suggest using this kind of setup to show a mock web application, and then make a site thats less...browser-esque.

    Ok so if you want to pursue this then here are some suggestions. Drop the tabbed interface, its not an easy to use navigation system I think. It makes it hard to travel from page to page when they each pop up individually at the top. Drop the folders, clicking on them doesn't do anything and will only cause problems. I like the way your logo looks, but the space to the right seems begging for something. Maybe you can utilize this space for more branding. The settings panel seems superfluous, do you need it? Clicking it can hide the navigation and cause problems finding things. Can you put a little icon next to your external link for your blog? You have a lot of copy text, most of it is fairly well written I think. However I would challenge you to consolidate and simplify. Look at www.simplebits.com for some great inspiration about keeping your copy simple.

    I would NOT do something with silverlight on the logo. It looks great as it is. If you want to use silverlight, then make a portfolio page and use it there. Keep the essentials clean and simple. You've got a lot of skills that you want to use on this site, but focus on using those skills on examples and not in the design itself. The site should be clean and focused on your work and skills, and while the design should support it, the design does not act as the portfolio. That is why you have one .

    I hope you aren't put off by my comments, and I hope that you understand that all of my thoughts come from abusing the skills that I have learned. I've abused Flash thinking it would be great for a whole site, but honestly it doesn't usually work well. I've sprinkled ajax in places that had no need or benefit from it, just to do it. I've done these things before, and I've seen how they play out, so I hope you benefit from my thoughts.
    Last edited by gnomeontherun; 12-22-2008 at 10:26 PM. Reason: missing a word which made a sentence mean something totally different, thanks bazz!
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  • #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremywilken View Post
    Woah woah woah slow down. Stop the AJAX train.
    Jeremy -- I really appreciate you taking the time to write all of that. I can't tell if you're that dedicated to this forum, or if I just struck a nerve

    Here's where I'm coming from, just in case this changes someone's opinion...

    I'm specifically targeting clients who need slick software development, so even though AJAX isn't meant to be used like this for a website, I feel like it give me an edge as you can clearly see what I can do.

    SEO is basically a non-consideration for me. I know, I know... that's heresy, but I'm targeting customers I already know or have contacts with. Thus, I'm not worried about web-traffic at this point.

    The comments about JS being enabled/disabled are also valid, but again I know the people I'm targeting.

    Based on all of the feedback I'm getting, I suppose I might consider using this site more as a sub-domain... one linked from my main site, which is more accessible.

  • #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurakay View Post

    Based on all of the feedback I'm getting, I suppose I might consider using this site more as a sub-domain... one linked from my main site, which is more accessible.
    Good call.

    Let your main site be the accessible search engine friendly one and the new one you are designing; let it be like a portfolio, which shows off your skills.

    As a side-suggestion, you could do several sites in your portfolio where each one shows off a specific capability that you have. I would suggest that that could make it easier for people to understand each of them more clearly than if you showed them all at the samne time, mixed together.

    my 2c/2gbp (as the two might soon become equal. lol ).

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  • #7
    Regular Coder jamesicus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremywilken View Post
    .......... Content makes a page, and slick interfaces don't work unless there is content to support it. I only use Javascript to make the site have extra features, and as pointed out above, it should not be relied upon to make the page function ..........
    IMO wise words, jeremywilken -- they happen to reflect my own thoughts.

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  • #8
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurakay View Post
    Jeremy -- I really appreciate you taking the time to write all of that. I can't tell if you're that dedicated to this forum, or if I just struck a nerve

    Here's where I'm coming from, just in case this changes someone's opinion...

    I'm specifically targeting clients who need slick software development, so even though AJAX isn't meant to be used like this for a website, I feel like it give me an edge as you can clearly see what I can do.

    SEO is basically a non-consideration for me. I know, I know... that's heresy, but I'm targeting customers I already know or have contacts with. Thus, I'm not worried about web-traffic at this point.

    The comments about JS being enabled/disabled are also valid, but again I know the people I'm targeting.

    Based on all of the feedback I'm getting, I suppose I might consider using this site more as a sub-domain... one linked from my main site, which is more accessible.
    I try to be dedicated Its not a nerve, no no, its that I've done some things which I later realized were huge usability issues for visitors. It comes with having been down this road myself, especially self-taught learning from what I see and read online. It can be very tempting to take a concept and push it into new places, but my experiences have taught me that often has implications!

    Considering your targets and goals, I completely agree with making it a profile item or whatever. Use a regular website as your launch pad into some examples. I would also say that your current implementation of this ajax-browser doesn't quite fit the bill for what someone might use it for. So perhaps take it and mold it into a mockup of a web client, a documentation manual, or something of that nature. Design a concept that could utilize that user interface, even if most of the text is dummy text, make the headings, add a picture or two, and arrange the content to give it the feeling of an application. The concept itself is good, its the placement of it that worries me. A website should be a website, even if you are showing off some cool tricks. The only exception I can think of is a CMS, where using your CMS to show off your CMS makes sense (because its a website!).

    Look at Google products, you can read about them and learn what they do in a 'normal' webpage setting, but once you enter the product (like Gmail or Docs) you experience the UI.

    Lastly, never underestimate the importance of a clean and simple website. You never know when a visitor (regardless of your target audience) will find it and say, hey I'd like to hire this person, but can't because the tabs are over their head. You shouldn't put yourself in a position where you are possibly pushing out potential clients!

    Best wishes and Happy Holidays!
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  • #9
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    Yeah I'm going to quickly chime in from my experience: AJAX is a wonderful, slick, sexy way to design an easy to use interface that is both dashing and dynamic BUT unfortunately we live in a day and age where browsers get hijacked because of malicious code, and where some browsers ship with Javascript turned off.

    I usually design all my websites with plain boring ol' HTML and CSS. Then, once I'm done that, I upgrade the hell out of it with JS and AJAX - that way if someone wants to turn off JS the website still operates as intended but if they have it on then oh boy, it's go time.

    I've only ever designed one website that relied on JS and AJAX to operate and that is because it was an intranet website that had to serve more as a desktop application than a website (and even that was a tough call).

    Having said all that the web interface is slick and I think that you did a wonderful job.
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