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  1. #1
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    Does my site need a major overhaul?

    I have a website for my business which I code and maintain myself. A marketing company told me I need to change the site to CMS and that it needs an overhaul to the tune of $7K. Does it really need that much work?

    They want to add a flash intro, which I am not fond of, but maybe the header can be changed to flash. They also said the home page is very busy. I am not a web professional, so there are probably coding errors lurking about, but hopefully nothing too serious:

    http://www.hawkinshearing.com

    Any advice/suggestions are appreciated. Thanks!

  • #2
    Supreme Master coder! _Aerospace_Eng_'s Avatar
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    I don't think its that much work. I've seen worse. The text in your header seems blurry. The layout is okay. The code looks okay too. Is the site updated often?

    Also where was this marketing company located? I know a lot of companies from India tend to over charge and do poor work. Notice I didn't say all but a lot.

    I really don't agree with the flash intro either. Companies who say its needed are almost always inexperienced as its a bad thing to do as its one more step your users need to take before seeing your site. And with the type of site it is, I don't think its needed. Flash intros are okay for some gaming sites and sites that involve a lot of multimedia and even maybe an art website.
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  • #3
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Honestly your site seems pretty solid to be considering a $7 grand 'upgrade'. Here are some thoughts to add to what Aero said.

    I don't know who suggested this, but $7k for an overhaul of a site on this scale is borderline criminal IMO. I often see interesting dynamics with my clients, some say 'do what you think is best' and others say 'do it exactly like this'. Sometimes as a developer I have to point out issues with what people suggest (make that text blink!), and if we talk it over we come to some agreement that suits their desire and my opinion on what is a suitable solution. If a company isn't willing to work with you (for example if they say you have to have a flash intro), they aren't a business you want to engage with.

    Using a CMS may be useful, but if what you are doing now works and doesn't take you more time than you'd like to spend on it, then I wouldn't. Marketing companies shouldn't be in the business of saying 'You need a CMS', because thats not related to marketing really. Thats a technological choice, and if you can manage it yourself now, using a CMS to help manage it seems like a superfluous 'update'. The only real benefit I could see is a better shopping cart system that is able to handle more than just Paypal, but that all depends on how important that is to your business.

    Flash is like a seasoning, if the site is strong enough with out it, then adding it will likely oversaturate it. I do a reasonable amount of stuff with Flash, but never for my own work actually, except for a video player. This day and age, I would never recommend a Flash intro for the same reasons Aero suggested. I would even add that intros only 'work' with specialty sites like gaming where the audience is only engaged by extremely flashy tricks. I bet many of them would be better without.

    I'd say if you can maintain this site yourself with the coding, you have done a pretty solid job for someone who doesn't claim to be a professional. I do like the site quite a lot, it fits the style, and most of the things I'd suggest are minor things. If you are up for those I'd gladly share them.
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
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  • #4
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    Thanks, I am definitely open to any advice.

    I had the same reaction to the CMS update. I can update it myself with little difficulty, so I didn't really see what the benefit was (except $$ for the marketing company).
    The shopping cart is not a huge part of our business, so I'm not too concerned with that now.

  • #5
    Senior Coder gnomeontherun's Avatar
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    Some thoughts about the site:

    1) I say this carefully, but considering the demographic that requires hearing services, it is likely they may also need vision services. So I would suggest increasing the size of the fonts pretty much everywhere, or providing a tool that resizes the text via javascript. I played with it quickly, but it also seemed to make a huge difference. So this suggestion may have far reaching implications.

    2) There are a few oddities, such as at the top right is Contact Us and Sitemap which seem to exist outside of the website's main style. On the directions page, the image of the car looks awkward with a white box behind the circle.

    3) Some of the spacing is a little strange, particularly when the main content area has 3 columns. There is a big space to the right and left of the columns, but then they are tightly spaced between each other. Perhaps it would make more sense to lay them out as three rows and not columns, with picture on the left and text on the right?

    4) Colors are good, I like them, except the green link color in the body seems just a little hard to read. I think they could be a little darker.

    Like I said, these are mostly small little things.
    jeremy - gnomeontherun
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  • #6
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    I changed the font from pixels to em so it can be resized, I'm researching a resize tool, and am working on the other items you mentioned. Thanks again for the help :-)

  • #7
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    re

    Do not worry about a resizing tool, people with disabilities know how to resize their text using the browser. Your site needs a little layout help, that is all along with the colour in the centre. And yes, make it as accessible as possible bearing in mind it is for disabled users. The WC3 has accessibility guidelines, google it.

  • #8
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    What's the significance of the roof above the search box? with my screen settings I can't read the text. (I work in the proverbial darkened room )

    If you were to change anything, it would be your marketing company. Then I would slightly modify the layout. Perhaps put a horizontal div the same width as the nav menu so that the green body section coould be that width too. I would put the horizontal div either beneath the nav menu or as a footer and in it, I would have your contact details etc.

    overall, it's simple, straightforward and easy to find what's what.

    You could, if you wanted to do something that is worth your while (not that of a marketing company), add text-speech functionality. there are some companies which provide services to read aloud, the text that has been highlighted by the user. Not as expensive as the figure you mentioned.

    hth

    bazz
    Last edited by bazz; 05-20-2009 at 01:51 AM.
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  • #9
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    The roof is a picture of part of the shopping center we are located in (Solon Square). We are probably going to change the picture soon, we were just waiting for better weather (yay, snow is done for the year) to take another photo we like better, or perhaps change it to a happy customer pic or something similar.

    I'm not sure what is going on with the color of the main content section. It looks nice on the computers in my office, but is kind of washed out on my laptop (should be a nice pale green).

    For the layout, it sounds like the consensus is to get rid of the left blue column and change the three columns to rows? I can add a blue footer at the bottom and move the left content stuff there (although the search box should be somewhere towards the top of the page I would think)

  • #10
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    re

    For the colour of the green, if you want it to look the same in all browsers use a web safe colour. (One you would find in Word 2000+ not 2007) Search boxes are usually at the top of part way down the left side, as long as it is noticeable, the right side is usually for non important stuff like ads.

  • #11
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    The color code I am using for the main content section is #ECF6DD, so maybe that is the problem....should I find one of the 216 hex codes that is closest and change to that so it is consistent?

  • #12
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    re

    Well it is up to you, if the colour does not look too bad, you could leave it, otherwise use a websafe colour.

  • #13
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    I think I will change it...as I mentioned before, it looks good at my office but is kind of a yucky washed out grey on my laptop. Thanks


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