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  1. #1
    Regular Coder Common's Avatar
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    I would love some critique!

    Hello,

    I got some positive opinions of this site in the past but have since completely overhauled the place, both in terms of content and appearance. This is now my very own blog pertaining to technology, design and really whatever I feel like writing about.

    I put a lot of effort into the design and am happy enough with it, I feel it suits the tone of the site quite well, but would love some critique, positive, negative, suggestions, ratings, anything you can give me really to help me know what works well and what kind of things I can work on.

    The link: www.etchtheweb.com

    Thanks very much.

  • #2
    Senior Coder tomws's Avatar
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    You have a 280k page texture: http://www.etchtheweb.com/images/maintexture.jpg

    Ouch.


    I don't care for left-aligned (or right-aligned) sites, but I'm boring. I do like the look and the easy nav/categorization.
    Are you a Help Vampire?

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    Common (04-03-2011)

  • #3
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    It's a nice clean design.

    A couple of issues that stand out.

    1) It isn't a liquid design. I'm viewing it on a wide-screen monitor (I realise that puts me in a minority) and there is an inordinate amount of empty grey space on the right.

    2) Lack of page advancement links at the top of the page.

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    Common (04-03-2011)

  • #4
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    i also have 27 inch monitor and all ur alignment is to the left. put it in the middle if you could. But I like how your posts are eye catching

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    Common (04-03-2011)

  • #5
    Regular Coder Common's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments all, as for the left aligning, it was a design choice which I liked which is why I went for it, I maybe won't use it again in the future but it doesn't really hurt anything as far as i'm concerned. I have a large monitor too and like left aligned pages so I guess that aspect is just personal taste.

    You have a 280k page texture: http://www.etchtheweb.com/images/maintexture.jpg

    Ouch.
    What exactly is the problem here? I made the quality deliberately low to ensure a quick load time and avoid repeated elements of the background, but there is no damage or particular loss in quality to the actual image which looks fine to me. Care to elaborate as to what i'd gain by using a higher resolution image? I still have the original psd of course so can increase it if you convince me.

    Lack of page advancement links at the top of the page.
    Yes, that's something i've been meaning to add for some time, plus a way to quickly jump through numerous pages!

    Thanks again.

  • #6
    The Apostate Apostropartheid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Common View Post
    Thanks for the comments all, as for the left aligning, it was a design choice which I liked which is why I went for it, I maybe won't use it again in the future but it doesn't really hurt anything as far as i'm concerned. I have a large monitor too and like left aligned pages so I guess that aspect is just personal taste.
    Left-aligned pages tend to make you look as though you learnt to design circa 1996 in FrontPage--it's just not done. Pretty much no modern site uses it.

    What exactly is the problem here? I made the quality deliberately low to ensure a quick load time and avoid repeated elements of the background, but there is no damage or particular loss in quality to the actual image which looks fine to me. Care to elaborate as to what i'd gain by using a higher resolution image? I still have the original psd of course so can increase it if you convince me.
    His point is that it's too big. Repeating page elements is not a bad thing, and it's not going to be noticed (and even if they did, so what?) It's well worth the reduction in page size. Remember that even in first world countries broadband penetration is not 100%.

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    Common (04-03-2011)

  • #7
    Regular Coder Common's Avatar
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    Cool, thanks i'll look into it. Regarding "even if they did, so what?", the details are important to me, and something as simple as an unmatching background repeat is a big put-off if I'm looking at a designers page. I'm not claiming to be the best web designer in the world but I certainly don't want to allow a simple imperfection like that to give someone a wrong idea.

    I'm also going to look into centrally aligning this page, however your logic of " almost no modern site uses it" therefore no one should is a bit flawed. All web pages looking the same would be no good thing! While in this case some people may find it unsuccessful, that's no reason not to try something and exploration of the page space available to us is definitely not a crime.

  • #8
    The Apostate Apostropartheid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Common View Post
    Cool, thanks i'll look into it. Regarding "even if they did, so what?", the details are important to me, and something as simple as an unmatching background repeat is a big put-off if I'm looking at a designers page. I'm not claiming to be the best web designer in the world but I certainly don't want to allow a simple imperfection like that to give someone a wrong idea.

    I'm also going to look into centrally aligning this page, however your logic of " almost no modern site uses it" therefore no one should is a bit flawed. All web pages looking the same would be no good thing! While in this case some people may find it unsuccessful, that's no reason not to try something and exploration of the page space available to us is definitely not a crime.
    I grant you that it's flawed, but I'm not saying it's a crime: only that it's mistaken. Sites are centered both because left-aligned sites both give bad connotations--because old sites which did not cater to modern variable resolutions are left aligned--but also they make no sense: you're focusing user attention way over onto the left side of a page. And if everybody did that, people with big monitors would be, well, only using the left side of their monitors.

    I'll try to think up an analogy: all phones have their buttons below the screen. This is design convention, but it also makes sense, as it's a pain to have to move to the top to use the buttons; that will always take precedence over what a designer thinks looks good.

    As for the page repetition: you will make more users happy by lowering the page size than you will by indulging the one or two people who will ever notice and get the wrong idea, as you so put it (though presumably any such user would be sharp enough to understand why you repeated it.) Remember that your design will never be perfect because someone, somewhere, will have it screwed up, and remember that it is a hard and bitter lesson which we all must learn that web design has constraints, more constraints than any other design field, which you must come to terms to if you want to, in the end, make a good site. Which is the objective, isn't it?

    Of course, I'm focusing on the negatives. It really is rather good. But if you required only praise, I daresay you wouldn't have posted.

  • #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Apostropartheid View Post
    His point is that it's too big. Repeating page elements is not a bad thing, and it's not going to be noticed (and even if they did, so what?) It's well worth the reduction in page size. Remember that even in first world countries broadband penetration is not 100%.
    I would like to point out this interesting "web design trends of 2011" article. According to the author - and I realise that being on the internet doesn't make it true - large high res background images might become more common.

    I put in the rather large caveat that I've only ever designed one site, which, incidentally, Common panned

  • #10
    Regular Coder Common's Avatar
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    Right, well I've taken on some of the advice given in this topicm, plus a couple of things I've wanted to do since finishing this layout (namely, freshening it up a bit and making it wide enough for a google adsense banner.)

    So, I would I appreciate it if you would take another look... I'm actually struggling to decide if I'm totally happy with it appearance wise, it's definitely slightly more appealing to me than previous but there's still a few little tweaks and details to sort out I think until i'll be totally happy with it.

    And yes, I still haven't tiled my background -_- it's next on the list though! And my bg is less detailed now so will be easier to do convincingly.

    So, nice enough? At least it's centered!

    www.etchtheweb.com

  • #11
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    Just had a quick look in FF 3.6 and there are a couple of problems the stand out. There is bunching around the logo and the banner ad at the very top of the page doesn't appear at all in FF. Incidentally, I don't think an ad should be the first thing to appear on the page.

    Overall, I actually think the colour scheme of the previous incarnation was more distinctive. The grey and wine colours worked nicely, whereas the curent white background makes the page look a little barren.

  • #12
    Regular Coder Common's Avatar
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    I think the banner issue is probably just google adsense taking a while to initialise cos I had just set it up. And hopefully the bunching should now be resolved. But if not, it will be when I finally use a higher quality format but tile the bg.

    I agree that the previous version was more distinctive but I feel the clean, slightly more modern look of this one is considerably more inviting to read, especially once I finish all the little tweaks I have planned.

  • #13
    The Apostate Apostropartheid's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Common View Post
    I think the banner issue is probably just google adsense taking a while to initialise cos I had just set it up. And hopefully the bunching should now be resolved. But if not, it will be when I finally use a higher quality format but tile the bg.

    I agree that the previous version was more distinctive but I feel the clean, slightly more modern look of this one is considerably more inviting to read, especially once I finish all the little tweaks I have planned.
    I see where you're going with the modern thing but I still disagree. The colour scheme of the old one was nicer: here the background is made to seem washed out and I find it hard to focus on the text. The black providing sufficient contrast to make this not an issue.

  • #14
    Regular Coder Common's Avatar
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    Dunno, I guess it comes down to personal taste beyond performance issues because I LOVE the site now, and am grateful for the suggestions to center it because that's what really spurred me on to clean things up a bit. I'm happier with how it looks now than ever and I don't know if it's just coincidence but my viewing figures and click through rates over the past few days have been higher than ever.

    Feeling good about it!

  • #15
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    I agree with Apostro. I do like the old color scheme better, but am glad also that you centered everything up. To me, its a big pet peave to see a site that is left aligned. It's like watching a tv show on my 71 inch screen, but the show is only viewable on the left half only. lol

    That said, I'm not put off by the new scheme. Personally I think the background could use some color or texture or something, but again, it wouldnt make me leave the site.
    Teed


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