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View Full Version : please critique this site for me


HistoryProf
01-23-03, 10:18 AM
Ok, so we have a new guy in charge of overhauling our department's website, which it was entirely in need of. However, many of us are less than enthusiastic with the results and find it, well, pretty damn ugly. Many aired some complaints, but in one pointed response i was told I am in no position to critique, let alone understand, "elegant html."

Now I'm not exactly a webmaster, but I have some experience, have made various pages and know my abc's. I also know that one of the complaints about the old site was that it was hard to read - however I can't for the life of me see how a dark background with grey text is any better. Even worse, if you look at it in Netscape, it's totally different than in Explorer.

Anyway, I understand as well as anybody the frustrations of design work, but can anyone offer their opinions on this page? Are we nuts to argue that it's hard on the eyes? What is with the 'box' for text? What's wrong with a simple left column for links and white background?

http://www.asu.edu/clas/history/


and this is an example along the lines of what we'd like to have implemented instead...

http://www.ou.edu/cas/history


Thanks to anyone willing to spare a minute to look at the site....

CharlesC
01-23-03, 10:43 AM
I don't think its bad at all.

I would just change the gray to white.

X
01-23-03, 12:13 PM
As for the ASU site, my Alma Mater...

I would make the text on the left gold to correspond with the school colors and the text of some of the sub-menus.

The area of text with the grey background just doesn't seem right going all the way to the right edge of the page. I'd stop it earlier and leave some background on the right side of it. Other than that, I don't think it's too bad. I kind of like the Graduate Program pages.

The University of Oklahoma's background is very distracting and makes the text on top of the pictures hard to read. I hate that.

The whole site looks like a resume or term paper. So boring that I'd only look at it if I had to get some info from it, but I sure wouldn't enjoy doing it.

HistoryProf
01-23-03, 12:55 PM
funny you mention the gold text X....that's how we originally had it set up actually, but the department chair felt that it was too hard to read. That was one of the original reasons for changing it all. The Graduate Program pages are that old layout that is being completely discarded. The color scheme and set up on those pages is just better (using 'school colors' as dictated by ASU web developers) imho and I don't understand all of these major redesigns....especially with that atrocious magenta color....blech.

Here's how it used to look (illustrating the supposedly "hard to read" text")

http://www.asu.edu/clas/history/graduate/

kneijst1
01-23-03, 01:07 PM
I'll definitly second the two above changes. The white background will help tremendously, and the gold on red will look nicer(and more appropriate too). Also, try changing the blue hyperlink color to gold or red, as the blue just doesn't seem right, but maybe because of the grey background. good luck!

X
01-23-03, 01:11 PM
I only like the gold text on the magenta background. And it is a good idea to keep the magenta to a minimum, like it is on the left side links. The gold on white is hard to look at. As is OU's text on top of pictures. My major problem with them though is the way the content is laid out. Too much reading!

HN
01-23-03, 02:09 PM
the graduates page is much cleaner. yellow on red is not hard to read. it's the yellow on white on the right that might be difficult. and yeah...the first history link is blech (or however you spell that sound).

--HN

Breakfast with Girls
01-23-03, 08:47 PM
Hi brizz,

I'm a PHP/MySQL web developer and can often sympathize with other developers when their users want something that is not possible or would take entirely too long (or is just stupid and tacky -- i.e., a Flash intro). However, there are also a lot of hacks out there who should stick to coding their own personal pages and who have no business touching any real pages.

Originally posted by brizz
Ok, so we have a new guy in charge of overhauling our department's website, which it was entirely in need of. However, many of us are less than enthusiastic with the results and find it, well, pretty damn ugly. Many aired some complaints, but in one pointed response i was told I am in no position to critique, let alone understand, "elegant html."

:lol: I'm not sure what "elegant HTML" is, but anyone who told you you're not in the position to critique a page <i>design</i> is full of it. Page layouts are not exactly high art or even super subjective. As long as you're breathing, your opinion of the layout has some validity. It's as simple as you know what you like and you know what you don't like.

My first thought at seeing this page was, "Was this page designed in 1996?"

Now I'm not exactly a webmaster, but I have some experience, have made various pages and know my abc's. I also know that one of the complaints about the old site was that it was hard to read - however I can't for the life of me see how a dark background with grey text is any better. Even worse, if you look at it in Netscape, it's totally different than in Explorer.

I'm not sure what version of Netscape you're talking about, but it looks the same in Mozilla 1.0.2 (the basis for Netscape 7). If you're referring to Netscape 4.x, so few people use it anymore, and it is so bad at rendering HTML, that most developers ignore it and make sure that it looks good in Netscape 7.

The page is super-boring, but you can be comforted by the fact that not a whole lot of people look at it a lot anyway. :D ;)

Deftones
01-23-03, 10:27 PM
hey, look at that, it's my alma mater too! :)

asabase
01-23-03, 11:02 PM
Boring page. My very first webpage ever was better than this (found here, I never completed it). Maybe you can get some ideas from it.
http://gemini.tntech.edu/~acp7144/

I don't mind the grey background, it's not THAT dark. I hate the font he used though. Tell him to use one of the templates that come with Frontpage. :)

Mopower
01-23-03, 11:37 PM
Its so 1997ish.

Deftones
01-24-03, 11:07 AM
Originally posted by asabase
Boring page.

while it is bland, I don't think it is boring. You also have to remember, it is a site for a college. They don't need fancy animations and flash running. The site is simply for information for those who are researching colleges.

Sloth911
01-26-03, 12:08 PM
change gray to white.

a different font might make it easier to read.

Breakfast with Girls
01-31-03, 08:02 PM
Originally posted by Deftones
while it is bland, I don't think it is boring. You also have to remember, it is a site for a college. They don't need fancy animations and flash running. The site is simply for information for those who are researching colleges.

But an interesting design != animations and Flash.

agilliland
02-02-03, 01:26 PM
I wouldn't say there is anything wrong with the new site, but I would say that there are things that could be improved.

From an artistic standpoint the page is off balance. The fact that the red banner cross on the bottom and top, but let the grey run directly into the right edge leaves the page off balance. I would either go ahead and add the red all the way around ... like a picture frame, leaving only the grey in well defined and centered box, or change the banner and copyright areas to use the grey as well. This is the bulk of your problem, and it can be improved easily.

Other minor things would just be playing with fonts, font sizes, and a little more spacing.

First, your Navbar links on the left look like they could be made one font size smaller, they will still stand out just fine, but make the navbar a little less cluttered looking.

Second, you should try and push your copyright info to the very bottom of a page that is not full of vertical content. I am browsing here with about 850 pixels of height, and it is not at the very bottom. This leaves extra red space in your case which looks off balance again.

Third, you need to break up the lead paragraph in your body. Its too big and massive. Making it 2 or 3 paragraphs will make it read easier and look nicer.

Those things should make it look a little better in my opinion.

namja
02-02-03, 02:11 PM
Originally posted by brizz
Here's how it used to look (illustrating the supposedly "hard to read" text")

http://www.asu.edu/clas/history/graduate/
I like this better than the new site ... it's easier to read in my monitor.

Also, for the menu on the left, it'd be nice if you used CSS to make mouse rollover effects (like if you put mouse over the link, it'll give you an underline).