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Rob Lineberger
Obsessive-Compulsive (I) Inmate

From: Durham NC
Insane since: Apr 2003

IP logged posted posted 04-17-2003 03:50 Edit Quote

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UPDATE: The new site can be viewed here: http://www.usacroquet.com/willhoite

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This page is for a croquet equipment manufacturer:
http://expert.ics.purdue.edu/%7Erobline/willtool/croquet.html

Looking for suggestions/improvements. I want to keep it kind of light while emphasizing the quality and craftsmanship. This is a world class company, although their old site doesn't show you.

If you have another minute, I'd like some eyes on my home page as well.

Thanks!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Currently seeking a technology analyst/instructor/web developer position in the research triangle, any tips appreciated!

[This message has been edited by Rob Lineberger (edited 05-07-2003).]

chudzta
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Williamsburg, VA
Insane since: Aug 2002

IP logged posted posted 04-17-2003 04:13 Edit Quote

I dont have the experience or time to give an indepth analysis of the site.
Overall if i was interested in such a thing.. I believe I wouldnt have a bad feeling for the site. It is rather light, but that was one of your objectives. The only thing that jumps out to me initially is the Black text links on the Croquet page, where the background is the grassy one. Slightly hard to read. Even thought its unecessary with a second nav menu on the left with better color. Good luck, nice work, ttyl _ry

::Chudzta's Page::

[This message has been edited by chudzta (edited 04-17-2003).]

reitsma
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: the bigger bedroom
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 04-17-2003 04:39 Edit Quote

oy.

quote:
This is a world class company, although their old site doesn't show you.


umm... the new site doesn't exactly convey it either.


1) the grass background is tragic. try and find a nice green, maybe that will help.

2) is there any correlation between carbide tools and croquet equipment? would anyone interested in one be likely to want information on the other? i don't see the connection. The two business areas really deserve two separate websites.

3) the dropshadow is pretty terrible too.

4) i'm sorry, i'm really not liking the look here.

it looks like a frontpage hack, with the only shred of creativity being an overexecuted croquet metaphor.

investigate web design, look on the web, find sites you like, and figure out what it is that you like about it.

search the ozone asylum for web design, and see what else we have to say.

then, look at the key functions of your site, and what you want it to do.

do you want it to be fast? then have rectangular, solid colour sections, not curved grass texture navigational nightmares.

personally, i think a simpler design would work wonders for this site.

sorry that this review is so harsh, but i'm trying to be honest here. i would love for you to submit a new version, and will try and devote some serious time to it too.

good luck!

NoJive
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: The Land of one Headlight on.
Insane since: May 2001

IP logged posted posted 04-17-2003 05:33 Edit Quote

The menu down the mallet handle is nowhere as obvious as it should be imo...well it's obvious but it doesn't really jump out as a navbar. There's something screwy with it too. There's nothing under 'balls' but I get a blue flyout thingy where I"m supposing 'hoops' should be as 'hoops' does show up when you're on the 'balls' page.... however when you're on the 'hoops' page... the mallet handle navigation again goes hoopy =) with the flyout thingy appearing...where 'mallets' should be.

I agree with reitsma on the issue of 'tools and croquet'.... you should really try to somehow separate the two.

The front end might be more effective with a display of some description of all the various components... mallets balls etc. rather than Bobby & Archie. Tell their story for sure but weave the story around the product...displaying all components... then Bobby Archie and the ladies take a bow at the end. Understand? Storyboarding this I think would work wonders.

Hope that helps some.

Rob Lineberger
Obsessive-Compulsive (I) Inmate

From: Durham NC
Insane since: Apr 2003

IP logged posted posted 04-17-2003 06:28 Edit Quote

These comments are very helpful. Thanks for taking the time to look over the site. I now have some great ideas for improving it.

I should have mentioned up front that this is a re-skin of the old site. All navigation, pictures, and copy are lifted verbatim from the old site. I haven't met with them to discuss updates or navigational changes. HOWEVER, the ideas regarding the carbide tool/croquet mayhem are good ones to ponder!

I will revisit this site in a week or so and post a new one for review. I appreciate the sound criticism.

quote:
1) the grass background is tragic. try and find a nice green, maybe that will help.



Do you mean go with a solid color, such as in this site ?

Can you give me a little more detail beyond "the dropshadow is pretty terrible"? Terrible in what way, that it exists at all or that it isn't executed properly? Would a bevel be better? I do plan to stick with the curve theme, so what transition would you recommend between the green foreground and white background?

NoJive, thanks for the comments regarding secondary navigation, I'll look into it. Also, i like your idea of restructuring the main croquet page.

The whole idea here was to recreate the feel of being on the croquet court. Hence the grass and stake. Grass and wood textures along with the color white will evoke the croquet vibe in those who play.




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Currently seeking a technology analyst/instructor/web developer position in the research triangle, any tips appreciated!

DL-44
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 04-17-2003 18:24 Edit Quote

I found myself extremely conused as to whether I was on a croquet site or a carbide tools site. I came to an initial conclusion that perhaps the carbide tools were used to make the croquet equipment. My confusion was compounded by the fact that the links to the tool parts of the site were accented with croquet balls...

*then* I noticed the stake to the right that had what could *possibly* be links, and decided to try them out...

Then I realized that this was a hybrid site serving to seperate purposes in the same space *never* a good idea.

One site for carbide tools.

One site for croquet.

If that's not an option, then I see little hope for this no matter *what* you do.

Now, as far as the grass/dropshadow/stake et al -
the grass, as reitsma said, is pretty bad. A solid color would definately work better IMO. Add to the general unnattractiveness of it the fact that the textures in different boxes don't line up where they meet, and you've got a minor fiasco.

In what way is the drop shadow terrible? Well, every way =(
It just comes across as tacky, and it is unnecessary - especially if you switch to a solid color. It also seems to cut off a few pixels below the top of the page, perhaps to hint that is being cast by light from above, but in reality it just looks cut off.

The croquet balls as bullet points for the links is a fine idea, and the stake as an accent piece - minus the links - would work just fine as well. The dual navigation is just a terrible concept, however, and just one of many many reasons not to have a site that serves what is by rights two businesses (even it is in fact a single business, it is for all intents and purposes two).

Evoking the concept of being on a croquet court, and blatantly displaying a croquet court are two entirely different things, and I think a more subtle approach would be that far better of the two options.



Rob Lineberger
Obsessive-Compulsive (I) Inmate

From: Durham NC
Insane since: Apr 2003

IP logged posted posted 04-18-2003 00:44 Edit Quote

It seems we have a consensus. Thanks for the sound advice! I knew I could expect great feedback from this forum and I wasn't let down.

I will repost a new site a week or so from now.

Rob

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Currently seeking a technology analyst/instructor/web developer position in the research triangle, any tips appreciated!

DL-44
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 04-18-2003 15:47 Edit Quote

Always glad to help. very interested in seeing what you do with it.

I'm also very interested in whether the client is receptive to moving this into two seperate sites...

Rob Lineberger
Obsessive-Compulsive (I) Inmate

From: Durham NC
Insane since: Apr 2003

IP logged posted posted 05-06-2003 22:23 Edit Quote

Ok, I have a newer version out there. http://www.usacroquet.com/willhoite

None of the links work. Please comment on general layout. Also, i cannot get the css for div.inset to look right and be centered within the green sidebar.

Fire away, last time was very helpful.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Currently seeking a technology analyst/instructor/web developer position in the research triangle, any tips appreciated!

Rob Lineberger
Obsessive-Compulsive (I) Inmate

From: Durham NC
Insane since: Apr 2003

IP logged posted posted 05-06-2003 22:39 Edit Quote

Ok, most of the links should work now. getting there.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Currently seeking a technology analyst/instructor/web developer position in the research triangle, any tips appreciated!

reitsma
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: the bigger bedroom
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-07-2003 01:15 Edit Quote

*small round of applause*

i am very impressed, rob.

whilst not the best site i've seen, it is far and away the best croquet site i've seen, and far better than your earlier submissions.

nitpick #1: the top right bit. what's that blue doing there?

ok, let's plough through this site....

layout - beautiful. i have ot admit, the top part looks pretty classy, and the 'balls' 'mallets' 'hoops' links are is logical and aesthetic.

the left navigation area is a bit of a let down in comparison. i like the way it links in with the top bit - that ellipse looks great. but the rest of it just doesn't meet the standard that your site has set.

i tried an alternative design, it's right here.
(hey michael, sorry if this is an abuse of formclot's sig repositry. remove if this is the case.

You would want a sharper outline of the bottom bit, it was just a quick hack, but hopefully it'll give you a few ideas of some other possibilities to play with.

your quote needs to follow some standard blockquote techniques...
[quote]like this one, for example[/i]
have it smaller text, have it between horizontal lines, italicized, a different colour, between quotation marks - try to find a combination of these techniques to make the text stand out as a quote. The left margin indentation just isn't enough.

that 'tooling' link doesn't make sense. it breaks the consistency of the navigation. i'm expecting another sub-section of the site, and am presented with a new site.

logically, i believe it belongs at the top of the links page - with a nice chunk of text outlining who this company is (ie we manufacture this stuff!).

home links generally don't go at the bottom.



i get a 404 on the links section, by the way.

my next point is consistency - same set of font sizes and styles throughout the entire site. right now, your 'contact' page is the biggest offender. it's cheapening the site, buddy.

your ahref links aren't very nice either - i don't like that 2nd colour. personally, i think it would look better to simply underline the link on mouseover instead of making it a different colour. (or choose a nicer colour!)


last of all - i LOVE the homepage images! they are really nice work.



Rob Lineberger
Obsessive-Compulsive (I) Inmate

From: Durham NC
Insane since: Apr 2003

IP logged posted posted 05-07-2003 04:01 Edit Quote

Thank you, reitsma. Your review is quite helpful and you've given me excellent suggestions. I figure if I can get a C+ or better from this crowd, it is good enough for "normal" people. I should also give due to my co-designer, Aaron Smith. Somehow, we work better as a team than as individuals. Or at least I do.

I should have clarified some things to spare you all some effort. Let me clarify now. The content of the pages is a quick hack. I have not defined the CSS for the site, nor paid much attention to layout. Your comments are right on, and I will address them.

What I'm looking for specifically are comments on the general design and sidebar, which you have definitely addressed. I like the direction your version is heading for the sidebar. I'd hoped to do it in CSS, but it looks plain. At work tomorrow I will post the photoshop image that I was shooting for.

Now for some specific questions:

quote:
what's that blue doing there?



What blue? I'm not seeing it. I have a feeling there is a leftover in my CSS that is causing image rollovers to appear blue. Can you describe what you're seeing or post a screenshot?

Good points about the quote. I will plunge into the CSS and try something.

Ahh.. the tooling link. What I have in mind is to put a brief text blurb in the sidebar that says something like "we produce such fine croquet equipment because we are a tooling shop. click here to see our company site".

I don't like the a href colors either. I will address that when I hone the CSS.

quote:
last of all - i LOVE the homepage images! they are really nice work.



Thank you. I was proud of that one. It was just one of those things: "world class equipment... croquet balls... blue looks like water... GLOBE!" A few minutes of googling and I had a croquet ball globe. Aaron put shadows underneath and viola it was done. I plan to do similar images for some of the other parts of the site.

Again, I thank this board and reitsma for such precise and useful feedback. I have been coding html by hand in notepad for years, and have just recently begun to seriously learn the finer points of web design. It is a lot to absorb at once.





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Currently seeking a technology analyst/instructor/web developer position in the research triangle, any tips appreciated!

reitsma
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: the bigger bedroom
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-07-2003 04:51 Edit Quote
quote:
A few minutes of googling and I had a croquet ball globe.



if you are a world class company, you should be avoiding copyright issues too. i would recommend chasing up some permission to use that image, especially considering how specific it is.

DL-44
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-07-2003 14:28 Edit Quote

Absolutely miles beyond the first iteration - great job.

I agree heartily with reitsma on two issues in particular -

1) the left hand Nav could use a bump up to the level of the rest of it.

2) the possibility of copyright infringement is a *very* serious issue in these matters. If that is in fact someone else's image that you've simply put a shadow under, it might be best to rethink the method. If I've misunderstood, then nevermind =)

It wouldn't be too difficult to create such an image from scratch (I assume you have access to as many photos of croquet balls as you could possibly want, and a free usable world map shouldn't be hard to find...).

Anyway, really nice work in taking this up to where it needs to be =)


Veneficuz
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: A graveyard of dreams
Insane since: Mar 2001

IP logged posted posted 05-07-2003 15:18 Edit Quote

Much better than the last one

Reitsma covered most of the things I can think, but one thing you should think about when making the site is complying to the w3c stanards. First of you need to add a Doctype. You should also use CSS to create the page layout instead of tables.

_________________________
"There are 10 kinds of people; those who know binary, those who don't and those who start counting at zero"

Suho1004
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: Seoul, Korea
Insane since: Apr 2002

IP logged posted posted 05-07-2003 15:48 Edit Quote

Definitely better than the first version. And there have been some very good ideas here so far as to what you could do with this to take it even further.

Might I suggest that you add the new link to your first post, so that those coming in to this thread for the first time don't get confused and give you a review on the old version?

Rob Lineberger
Obsessive-Compulsive (I) Inmate

From: Durham NC
Insane since: Apr 2003

IP logged posted posted 05-07-2003 17:02 Edit Quote

You misunderstood. The "few minutes of googling" was to find a generic pictures of a globe. I took one of the Willhoite croquet ball pictures and trimmed out the grass background. Then I selected the green part of a globe image, copied it, and pasted it onto the croquet ball. I then tweaked the color settings and transparency, did some cleaning up, added a second ball with another globe, etc etc. The image was 90% custom made, I just needed a convinient way to put the continents on without drawing them by hand. Thanks for pointing it out, but all images on every site I've ever built have been created from scratch or heavily modified from public domain images.

Suho1004, I'll put in a link at the top.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Currently seeking a technology analyst/instructor/web developer position in the research triangle, any tips appreciated!

Rob Lineberger
Obsessive-Compulsive (I) Inmate

From: Durham NC
Insane since: Apr 2003

IP logged posted posted 05-07-2003 17:17 Edit Quote

As promised, here is a link to the original image for the navigation, which i was trying to recreate in CSS:
http://www.usacroquet.com/willhoite/images/croquet_test.gif

1) Does that look better than the current iteration?

2) How could i modify my CSS to get the green section to look like the image?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Currently seeking a technology analyst/instructor/web developer position in the research triangle, any tips appreciated!

reitsma
Maniac (V) Mad Scientist

From: the bigger bedroom
Insane since: Oct 2000

IP logged posted posted 05-08-2003 00:50 Edit Quote

good to hear, rob - sorry for the misunderstanding.

very nice work on the images then - and no doubt, as the creator you can appreciate why i thought it would be unfair to rip such images.

it's one thing to steal a spinning "@" symbol for the contact us page, but an image as specific as that - well it could only be used on croquet pages, so stealing it is a tad malicious.

Rob Lineberger
Obsessive-Compulsive (I) Inmate

From: Durham NC
Insane since: Apr 2003

IP logged posted posted 05-08-2003 01:46 Edit Quote

You're right... so nobody steal it or I'll hunt you down!

Now that we have that out of the way, can you provide more detail on the blue in the corner? Also, tell me if the nav bar is better.

Thanks,
Rob

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Currently seeking a technology analyst/instructor/web developer position in the research triangle, any tips appreciated!

Thumper
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: Deeetroit, MI. USA
Insane since: Mar 2002

IP logged posted posted 05-08-2003 20:44 Edit Quote

I've been following this review since the beginning. Coming along much nicer now Rob...good job. Perhaps some of the body areas could merge better with the design of the interface, but that's not bad either...



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