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Thread: Ohio2Texas

  1. #1
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    Ohio2Texas

    Top ten things to do in dallas texas

    I'm working on a site for a design contest. This is my third year. The first year we had a crappy little site that was mostly flashed based. Last year we had a rich content filled site with a ton of bells and whistles. Both years we didn't win and lost to horrible looking sites that were design in table generating WYSIWYGs. This year our plan is to go all out in to a amazing looking design (the best we can do anyways) and try to wow the judges. We know the judges probably don't even know basic html, so technical details are not on the top of our list.

    The contest is themed based around "The Top Ten Things to do in Dallas Texas, while at the BPA Leadership Convention", so we went with a western looking theme. My optimization is absolutely horrible (the main page is over 1MB), but we know the judges won't even know. I know there's a few things wrong with it right now, but I'm still working on it. I'de like some comments on how everyone likes or dislikes the design. If you have any suggestions, I would enjoy them.

    Thanks in advanced!

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    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Its a little hard to comment with only regards to visual, as its my job to think about the whole picture, but I'll try. I won't even peek at the source code, but I warn that good design is built on good code...

    First impression is that this was made in 1999 in Frontpage. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it just feels clunky like the past.

    Suggestions: Lighten the graphics. Its overloaded. The background of the text does not compliment reading, I don't mind that you have this effect, but soften it and make it so where the text is is a much more subdued texture or better yet solid color. Maybe just making the edges all burnt would improve the feel and make it feel lighter.

    My wife is from Texas so I've got a few thoughts in that department. Dallas is not the frontier, its a pretty major metropolitan. The site gives the feel of the wild west, but that simply is not the case these days. I think the design should borrow from this kind of style, but I'd focus on modernizing the layout and just in general keeping it minimal/clean.

    There is a lot of flash, I'm a flash developer, but you could easily get away without some of it (the menu for one). In fact all of it could be better done in JS or just with simple CSS. I'm not a big fan of the images fading and zooming in, its very disconnected from the rest of the site. Bells and whistles are one thing, but whats important is functionality and keeping it focused.

    I've been recommending this for a while, but I'd remove the validation links at the bottom. Nobody really cares (except Google) but your visitors don't need to be distracted by it and accidentally land on w3.org and lost.

    Those are just some thoughts, its a good foundation with a lot of potential!
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    Senior Coder Rowsdower!'s Avatar
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    Hello, my fellow Ohioan. Here's the quick and dirty of my first impression of the site. There is not much positivity here so I hope you won't take offense:

    Your site is functional, but it is not dazzling or even captivating. The colors are muddy with the exception of the "Ohio 2 Texas" and "Dallas Texas" blocks, which are in a harsh red, white, and blue (which I understand is probably meant to be patriotic and/or is meant to use the colors of the state flags as well, but it looks tacky here). The overall feel is not energetic, but rather depressing.

    Your text graphics with the outer glow effects look a bit cheesy, too. The flash navigation block is OK, but it is uninspired. I get the impression that this is supposed to be the crown jewel of the site, but it isn't strong enough to make it work. The images look muddled, which is not attractive. Consider using PNG images rather than jpegs. You've done this for the text graphics, why not make the real "eye candy" images look this crisp? Also, the transtion from grayscale to color is too slow for my taste. You might want to consider making it an instant change or else have it fade-in more quickly (and at the same time as the image expansion, which currently appears to happen first rather than simultaneously).

    The theme seems contrived and unoriginal - especially given that none of your top ten locations to visit has anything in common with the elements of your theme. In other words, the tone is all off. You've decorated the site like a hoaky steak house and that's not a positive.

    I know that you won't like to hear it, but I'm tempted to say that you might want to start over from scratch. Pound-for-pound I think you'd be better off making a plain white web page with a more modern feel, a few pastel colors thrown in (people always seem to enjoy that), and some custom graphics. You could work up some icons of cartoony versions of the "western" stuff you are incorporating (to make an obvious parody of the western stereotypes rather than making a genuine attempt to fit them) and use that in a more subtle design. Less is more in many cases!

    These items are matters of taste, but since this is a visual competition they are an important place to start.

    On the other side of the coin, if this is what's selling in these competitions maybe you have a winner already. Do you have any images or links to the designs that DID win in previous years? It might give us some ideas of what the judges have a taste for...
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    I don't have much else to say as I agree with the above comments. The page took a bit of time to load an I'm on a cable modem. Also the site is called ohio2texas but I don't see why its called that. Some of your normal text links are still that awful blue. Some would say change it, some would say leave it for accessibility reasons. I say change it. Also on your sources page you have urls to the sources but they aren't actual links. Was this done on purpose?
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    http://environmentyou.org/ - This is the site we lost to last year at state level. It made me laugh.
    http://www.teay.org/ - This is the site we made last year that lost. It looks horrible to me, but not as bad as the winner.

    This should give you some reference on the competition and what the judges are like.
    Last edited by Blaher; 02-17-2009 at 04:02 AM.

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    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Honestly it gives me little indication as to how the judges work or decide.

    Is this a HS competition? Then you are probably right that your skill doesn't matter, its what they like. You might need to track down more about the judges and the contest itself to get beneficial feedback.
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
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    Senior Coder Rowsdower!'s Avatar
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    Hmm, yeah this is a bit confusing. If it's just visual appeal they're looking for I'd say you guys should have taken it last year. Do they give you any feedback on the submission or any breakdown of scoring in different categories? I'm at a loss...
    The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid. G.K. Chesterton
    See Mediocrity in its Infancy
    It's usually a good idea to start out with this at the VERY TOP of your CSS: * {border:0;margin:0;padding:0;}
    Seek and you shall find... basically:
    validate your markup | view your page cross-browser/cross-platform | free web tutorials | free hosting

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    I'm in the competition too, for Ohio no less, and the judges do not over look technical things. (I would show you our website but I won't because then everyone on my team would get mad at me. I did do it in CSS though, with very little flash gadgets.) Our judge at the regional level was a web designer himself. All the judges at the regional level worked in their area of judging. Even the rubric has a section devoted just to technicality. Maybe your presentation wasn't up to snuff in the past two years. I'm not fit to judge anything though

    Good luck, and see you at states.

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    dallashotspots.arphost.net

    There goes our website, IMO it doesn't look as good as yours XD We tried to go for the professional look, and I think it ended up biting us in the *** in the end.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Blaher View Post
    http://environmentyou.org/ - This is the site we lost to last year at state level. It made me laugh.
    http://www.teay.org/ - This is the site we made last year that lost. It looks horrible to me, but not as bad as the winner.

    This should give you some reference on the competition and what the judges are like.

    heheheh that made me laugh too.

    Wow, these guys are harsh. Maybe you should use Joomla or Drupal.

    I'm just kidding

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    Regular Coder FWDrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowsdower! View Post
    The flash navigation block is OK, but it is uninspired.
    When is flash navigation ever ok? Seriously? It is a usability nightmare and since I block all flash in my browser I am completely unable to browse the site. I will not bother leaving a review if I am unable to even see the navigation.
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    Senior Coder Rowsdower!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDrew View Post
    When is flash navigation ever ok? Seriously? It is a usability nightmare and since I block all flash in my browser I am completely unable to browse the site. I will not bother leaving a review if I am unable to even see the navigation.
    Umm... Ok, loosen your belt a few notches there, bud! Two things here:

    1) We're talking about aesthetics in this thread. OP stated that mechanics, semantic (non-table) html, etc., etc, are NOT big issues. Everything about this review was requested to be about the look of the site and nothing more.

    Remember this part?
    We know the judges probably don't even know basic html, so technical details are not on the top of our list.
    2) Put my isolated sentence back into its original context and it is clearly a commentary on the visual appeal of the flash object (as the OP requested) and not a commentary about the wisdom of its use as a menu. Besides which, based on OP's messages in this thread we can already assume that the judges will have flash enabled. This makes your complaint about accessibility issues irrelevant:
    I'm working on a site for a design contest. This is my third year. The first year we had a crappy little site that was mostly flashed based.
    Put all of this together and I really don't see how my comment is such sacrilege. Was this just a drive-by post or did you actually read the whole thread first?
    The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid. G.K. Chesterton
    See Mediocrity in its Infancy
    It's usually a good idea to start out with this at the VERY TOP of your CSS: * {border:0;margin:0;padding:0;}
    Seek and you shall find... basically:
    validate your markup | view your page cross-browser/cross-platform | free web tutorials | free hosting

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    The Apostate Apostropartheid's Avatar
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    Rowsdower, you would do well to calm down: this seems a miscommunciation of ideas to me. FWDrew's comment is certainly valid: if he can't see the flash menu, he can't comment upon it, and there's no guarantee that the judges will be able to either. You're certainly right in saying that it is a review on aesthetics, though.

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    Senior Coder Rowsdower!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CyanLight View Post
    Rowsdower, you would do well to calm down: this seems a miscommunciation of ideas to me. FWDrew's comment is certainly valid: if he can't see the flash menu, he can't comment upon it, and there's no guarantee that the judges will be able to either. You're certainly right in saying that it is a review on aesthetics, though.
    Yikes! For the record I'm actually not at all riled up, I was just using underlining, italics, and bold font to stress points of topical importance as I responded at length to a brief but misplaced criticism.

    In any case valid != relevant and I still think I'm right . Rest assured that I have no further interest in beating this dead horse, so take it for what it is and enjoy the rest of your Saturday.

    What's with the heavy moods this weekend anyway?
    The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid. G.K. Chesterton
    See Mediocrity in its Infancy
    It's usually a good idea to start out with this at the VERY TOP of your CSS: * {border:0;margin:0;padding:0;}
    Seek and you shall find... basically:
    validate your markup | view your page cross-browser/cross-platform | free web tutorials | free hosting

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    The Apostate Apostropartheid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowsdower! View Post
    What's with the heavy moods this weekend anyway?
    It suddenly became summery. Geeks don't like sunlight. =P


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