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CRO8
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: New York City
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-13-2003 18:49 Edit Quote

Yes I know I am working on ancient software, still need to fill sections of my portfolio - - but anyhoot, here is the URL
http://www.hotfrogdesign.com

- how is download time on 56k?
- browser inconsistencies?
- other bugs?

Thanks.
CRO8

krets
Paranoid (IV) Mad Scientist

From: KC, KS
Insane since: Nov 2002

IP logged posted posted 12-15-2003 17:26 Edit Quote

DLed pretty fast for me on a broadband connection. Everything worked OK as far as the navigation and such. I didn't notice any hiccups or anything.

My only question is why Flash? This is such a simple site and it could easily be done with HTML/CSS. You're using an ancient version of Flash and there's really no reason for it.

:::11oh1:::

CRO8
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: New York City
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-16-2003 01:09 Edit Quote

hey Krets- yeah this is the discussion I started months ago and html/css was the first option.

discussion #1
discussion #2
discussion #3

I think in the end, I had difficulty getting all browsers to view the same way- spent too much time trying different code varirations- I did not know too much flash- decided to dig in and use the program. I am pretty happy with the results. Yes, its ancient- but now I know flash.

[This message has been edited by CRO8 (edited 12-16-2003).]

Cameron
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Brisbane
Insane since: Jan 2003

IP logged posted posted 12-16-2003 17:04 Edit Quote

This should not be a flash website.

If this is meant to be your portfolio, a potential employer is likely to wander off thinking "why'd he use flash for that?” which isn't good.

Besides, if you've got an "interactive" section showing websites, which isn't interactive at all, I would hope you'd at least be up top par with the latest web standards. If you not, stop whatever your doing and go lean them.

The main reason why using flash is a bad thing for this site is that it completely neglects the medium of both the web and flash. You've created a static, low interactive website with a tool designed for heightened interactive web experiences. Any self respecting employer that's been in the web biz for their fair part will see just that.

Other design issues:
Unstructured navigation. It's good that you've split the site into three easily manageable sections, but the position of the links to each section change every time I navigate to a new area. How annoying would it be if MS Word removed the toolbar button you just clicked on (as there's no need to click it twice) shifting the location of all your other toolbar buttons every time you selected an option? If it's too difficult to "grey out" a link, just leave it there and active. 99% of users aren't so stupid that you need to force them to stop reloading the same page over and over again by disabling the link anyways.

Load Times:
I'm on 56k and all was fairly speedy. However, the lack of immediate feedback when I select a link that loads an image is a little off putting. Some kind of loading message/animation to provide feedback that my click did something and the requested content is now loading would be good. Although, if you do this site with (X)HTML (and I really hope you do), you shouldn't need to worry about that. =)

[This message has been edited by Cameron (edited 12-17-2003).]

poi
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: France
Insane since: Jun 2002

IP logged posted posted 12-16-2003 18:04 Edit Quote

Just my 0.02€ about the use of Flash where xHTML+CSS are far enough. I don't know how would react an employer, but personnally I would wonder why the person used Flash here and if he/she have any skill in xHTML+CSS.

For sure Flash can help to maintain a small/medium site thanks to its native XML support but it can be done with SSI or PHP and keep your site "Search Engine Friendly".

As for the download time, I've got a broadband connection so no problem here.
I second Cameron's remark about the navigation. You could also change the color of the active element in the 2nd level navigation.
The JPG on the splash page is too compressed and looks fuzzy.
Finally, in the info panels, I think you should use the same font size as in the 2nd level navigation, and insert some line breaks before each word written in dark gray.

Anyhow, the design is clean.

Mathieu "POÏ" HENRI

CRO8
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: New York City
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-17-2003 00:28 Edit Quote

Cameron and Poi, I appreciate your feedback, pretty much the reason for posting it here. I disagree about the use of flash- showing a vulnerability with my html, css skills. I will definitely add a loading status bar in-between loading .swfs and will consider re-designing the nav buttons.

Thanks!
CRO8


Cameron
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Brisbane
Insane since: Jan 2003

IP logged posted posted 12-17-2003 02:16 Edit Quote

You can disagree with it all you want. Just don't get your hopes up of landing a job in the web biz with that site.

krets
Paranoid (IV) Mad Scientist

From: KC, KS
Insane since: Nov 2002

IP logged posted posted 12-17-2003 02:40 Edit Quote

I agree with Cameron's disagreement with your disagreement.

:::11oh1:::

CRO8
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: New York City
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-17-2003 03:39 Edit Quote
quote:
Just don't get your hopes up of landing a job in the web biz with that site.



What are you looking for an argument Student Cameron? First of all I currently do have a WEB job, where I do content production (using a CMS tool) for my financial firm's 4 websites as well as work with the print designers in developing new pages. Designers design pages as one photoshop image, I cut them up and put them into html and apply CSS, then write up detailed specs for our developers. My portfolio consists of websites I did YEARS ago my friend, I am beginning to get back into taking on freelance clients. I'll have you know that I use html and CSS on a regular basis with high approval from my boss. Oh but b/c I used flash- I don’t know html, or CSS, right? I agree it would be a good idea to go back to the old sites and clean them up- make them HTML, CSS validated- which I most likely will do.

I am usually good about taking constructive criticism- which is why I posted in the first place. But you are making inaccurate assumptions on my skill set and I do not appreciate it.

This post is done and no longer deals with site critiques- Cameron if you want to discuss this further email me at chris@hotfrogdesign.com

poi
Paranoid (IV) Inmate

From: France
Insane since: Jun 2002

IP logged posted posted 12-17-2003 04:26 Edit Quote

CRO8: We didn't knew why you went for Flash nor in which stage was your site. Now, I clearly understand why you use Flash, so all I can say you is to use it for all its good aspects and emphasize by adding a section listing your skills in Flash ( i.e. animation, actionscript, database driven applications, video stuffs, XML files management ... ) and eventually other technologies and/or how your site is done.

Mathieu "POÏ" HENRI

CRO8
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: New York City
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-17-2003 04:28 Edit Quote

ok poi- thanks, I'll add a skills section. I just took offense at Cameron's tone of voice- not necessary in getting the point across.

Thanks.
CRO8

Cameron
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Brisbane
Insane since: Jan 2003

IP logged posted posted 12-17-2003 16:31 Edit Quote

You came here for an honest opinion, and I gave you one. If that offends you, so be it, I have nothing to apologise for.

If my tone of voice upsets you, again, so be it. I didn't set out to offend you; I was simply offering my advice, which you simply brushed aside without a thought to it. You still haven't given a reason for using Flash for this website other than "I couldn't do it with (X)HTML and CSS". Which is what you said in your opening post. Aside from learning to use flash, which is good, but still not reason enough for that website.

Maybe I should have been more specific than "web job" in my previous comments and said "design job" instead. I'm sure your technical proficiency in using web tools is good, but your design choices and practices in usability and interactivity are lacking.

Simply put, if you’re going to use flash, have a good reason for it. "Because it couldn't be done with HTML/CSS" isn't a good reason. Looking at your website, and the content you're providing, I see no reason why a tool like flash is needed to present it. Unless of course you want to showcase your animation and interaction design skills, of which I seen none in that design. No motion, no audio/video, no heightened interactive elements beyond what could be done with images and (X)HTML and a little JavaScript.

That's what flash is good at, and what it should be used for. Yes, it's also good at XML parsing and it maintains a more transparent state with database driven content but that's all background stuff that can be done with most any backend technology. IMO, if that's all your using flash for then you’re using the wrong tool for the job.

There are of course exceptions to this, like the www.anandtech.com reviews that use flash to present graphs of benchmarking results. Here their playing on flash's ability to present dynamic graphical data with a minuscule file size. Given that they often display 10+ graphs per review, this saves them a lot of hassle (in terms of making and saving each individual graph bitmap) and bandwidth, which is good for them and their users. Yet, I fail to see any such reasoning in the choice of tool used to deploy your website.

If I'm wrong, feel free to point out what I'm missing.

CRO8
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: New York City
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-18-2003 01:06 Edit Quote

Ok, lets give this a shot.

Regarding the problems I had with (x)html/CSS please read my opening post and follow the three discussions. They explain everything. In the end, when I tested my CSS site in browser cam, I could not get consistent results. Some browsers had the water image way up on the screen, with the orange main buttons missing completely. I used the nice folks here at the asylum and they were very helpful- but I was losing patience and had to get something online- I did not know flash that well so decided why not give it a shot.

quote:
your design choices and practices in usability and interactivity are lacking



By “interactive” I meant non-print, non-photo . . . or web. Definition of Interactive:

1 : mutually or reciprocally active
2 : of, relating to, or being a two-way electronic communication system (as a telephone, cable television, or a computer) that involves a user's orders (as for information or merchandise) or responses (as to a poll)

True, my portfolio sites are low levels of interactivity, but still interactive nonetheless. The user sees options, makes a decision, chooses a button, gets sent to a page, reads page, chooses another button - - hence what is a website. No big and flashy animations- because I am not at that point yet- Again, I will not apologize for my current novice level of flash. I plan to continue to learn flash and will get better- adding more motion/animation to the site. As of now, the site is in its infancy.

Yes, the water .jpg is too fuzzy- still learning how to import images without all that compression. Personally I like the way I set up my usability. Its not the normal predictable nav design. I think its fairly simple and easy to get around. Opening page has three main options and a contact button. On second level pages, yes, main nav location changes but not drastically as it is still the same orange color- standing out from the white/gray rest of the page is designed.

Do not get me wrong, I like this kind of feedback and do not want to be so narrow minded- ruins the whole point of a critique- but Cameron- you assume too much from my website- I cannot code html/css, I am going after design jobs, . . . .

[This message has been edited by CRO8 (edited 12-18-2003).]

DL-44
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-18-2003 01:36 Edit Quote
quote:
Because it couldn't be done with HTML/CSS" isn't a good reason



Well, I disagree somewhat. Don't want to argue that point though - the real thing I want to bring up is that this site *can* very easily be done with XHTML/CSS. I beleive I providede a means to accomplish that in fact, in an old thread (though I don't recall for certain).

If you want to design a site with Flash, for the purposes of learning Flash, I personally think that's fine, but it is bound to leave a negative impression in this case for people veiwing the site in an sort of "offical" capacity. I would opt to do such a thing as a seperate enterprise from my main site if I were in the "jsut learning this" mode, and switch over when there is good reason to use the chosen medium.

As for "interactive".

Yes, technically what you have done can be described as interactive. But since what you've described is also, as you said, the basic concept of a website in the first place, specifically designating something as "interactive" carries a large implication of something more interactive than the current state of things.

It would perhaps be better labeled "web" or what-have-you instead - give an actual descriptive title to the link so people know what is to be found there.

Going back to the 'job' bit - just being picky and want to point out that having a job in a web related field, and having made this website, and having gotten that job as a result of having made that website are two vastly different things



CRO8
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: New York City
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-18-2003 01:52 Edit Quote
quote:
having a job in a web related field, and having made this website, and having gotten that job as a result of having made that website are two vastly different things



Yeah I agree. Believe me, this site is not going to get me a designer role in any agency- I know that. Its purpose is to show potential freelance clients (small-medium biz) what I am capable of. Thats it. Nothing more. When I get more clients, do more sites, get more experience- then maybe I will market the site towards a full time gig- whatever it is.

OK- maybe "interactive" is a bit much. "Web" may do just as well.

DL- yes you lended a hand in trying to get my site xhtml/css- again it just didnt look right in browsercam- for whatever reason. Anyway, I may have a new client- yoga instructor- maybe I will do it in xhtml/css and see how it turns out- or maybe I will do it in flash- we'll see- but in any case I am excited to design websites.

DL-44
Maniac (V) Inmate

From: under the bed
Insane since: Feb 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-18-2003 02:08 Edit Quote
quote:
but in any case I am excited to design websites



Well, that is very important.

Now, as far as it not looking right in "browser cam".....
For starters, the goal of web design is not, and realistically cannot be, to make a webpage look exactly the same in every browser. The goal is to make the information on the page available to any user agent that accesses your site - which Flash effectively prohibits.

In most cases, presentation comes second. It is important, of course, but still second to the information contained on the site.

Via proper use of XHTML and CSS, you can very easily make this site usable in any user agent, and make it look identical to the most common browsers, and make it varying degrees of acceptable to the fringe ones.

To me, that is a much better goal than making it visually identical in a wide array of obscure or obsolete web browsers, and invisible to anyone who does not have flash, or to user agents with no possibility of using flash.

I am quite certain that any issues you were having with any of the significant browsers could have been addressed effectively.

Just my thoughts, secondary to the main purpose of this thread of course.


CRO8
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: New York City
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-18-2003 02:19 Edit Quote

Thanks DL. Points well taken- like I said for this new cllient- maybe I will go back to xhtml/css- we'll see.

Thanks.
CRO8

Cameron
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: Brisbane
Insane since: Jan 2003

IP logged posted posted 12-18-2003 03:28 Edit Quote
quote:
As of now, the site is in its infancy



Arr, you should have said that in the first post. I was under the assumption that this was the "finished" product so to speak -- my bad.

In regards to the "usability", I was referring to flash on a whole, which isn't as accessible as a well designed and coded XHTML/CSS website as many people disable flash in their browsers. Usability <-> Accessibility >> I need to stop mixing them up, again, my bad.

Although, you comment about "Its not the normal predictable nav design." IMHO, works against usability. Pre established codes and conventions in this respect are generally followed with good reason, and if you decide to break them then you'll need something to tie it back together.

I'm not saying you should keep your navigation system boring and static, but boring and static also means simple and usable. If you want something a little more dynamic, start with boring and static and work it from there. If you want to jumble up the nav options then perhaps animating the movement of each menu option to and from each page would be a better solution.

Example:

User clicks option > selected option animates off stage left > option for the currently viewed page animates on stage right > main page content transitions to the newly selected option.

As for my interpretation of "interactive", having spent the past few years studying interactive media design, I tend to see basic HTML at the bottom of my list of interactive mediums/technologies. Indeed, "web" is a more suitable word that can encapsulate all the same concepts as "interactive".

Weather or not you should scrap this and re-design in XHTML/CSS is debatable. Portfolio sites lend themselves quite well to technologies like flash. On the other hand, given that the average user will have encountered a flash site by a seasoned flash designer by now (be it a movie website or some such) then it's probably not the best idea until your skills in this area mature.

As of now, I'd actually suggest a hybrid HTML/Flash site. This way you can provide an accessible base of XHTML/CSS to present your work whilst focusing your flash skills on specific things like the navigation elements (which fall back to XHTML if the user doesn't support flash, or not, given it's a portfolio you can get away with stipulating technology requirements) or perhaps even have a section on your website where you publish your flash design experiments. After you've got a good handle on flash then you can go about designing a whole website with it.

Then again, jumping in head first might pay off as a faster route to learning flash but in the meantime I'd suspect that for the majority your site won't have the same face value as a well designed XHTML/CSS one would.

DL: My comment about "it couldn't be done with HTML/CSS" isn't necessarily about understanding those technologies enough, more so about not using the right tool for the job. Even in the hands of a flash master such technologies would be wasted on a site where the only major goals are to deliver static text and images.

CRO8
Bipolar (III) Inmate

From: New York City
Insane since: Jul 2000

IP logged posted posted 12-18-2003 03:39 Edit Quote

Cameron- thanks for your input- well received. I will consider xhtml/css for future sites- and maybe even my site- I will keep you all posted . . .

Thanks.
CRO8



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