Best way to present suggested improvements on a site?
January 31, 2012 2:19 PM   Subscribe

I need to make recommendations for improvements to a website. What's the best way to construct the report?

A potential employer has asked me to make recommendations on improving a website. There are some minor copyedits and a few structural/navigation issues. Also one bug in a form that affects usability (username and password fields can't be seen.) I have a few ideas about incorporating new content and graphics.

I can write up everything in a google doc, I guess, and attach a screenshot of the bug. But I'd love it if there were some way to show comments and suggestions on a copy of the site itself, or something. I'm strictly editorial, not a techie, and working on an old Mac. Any suggestions are very much appreciated!
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
What you're talking about is basically taking a screenshot of the site, and then marking up the graphic to indicate potential changes. (Or at least, this is one potential approach.) There may be specialized software for this, but it's fairly easy to accomplish in any reasonably sophisticated image editor - i.e., you can draw straight lines, basic shapes, add text, position layers - without looking like an amateur's version of a Superbowl play drawn in steamed glass with a greasy fingertip.

There are probably a hundred thousand better ways to do it - but I always ended up doing it with screenshots marked up in Photoshop (or GIMP, or whatever I had available) embedded into Word docs and/or PDFs with additional documentation, for the simple reason that the people who were going to end up reading the thing had Word and/or Acrobat already, and - in otherwise diverse technical environments - EVERYONE who was going to end up reading the thing had that software available. Nowadays, there are often restrictions on what sort of files can be sent through many corporate networks - so in terms of ultimate format, I'd ask what the employer prefers to receive.

Hope this helps.
posted by mie at 2:44 PM on January 31, 2012 [3 favorites]

The best way is with a screen capturing software like Camtasia. It's expensive but relatively easy to learn and very effective for giving feedback on a website. I'm not sure if your older Mac will run it.
posted by jeffmilner at 3:06 PM on January 31, 2012

I would recommend against screen capture software that outputs video, especially if it's the only document you're giving. It's not a document that can be easily annotated, reviewed, or printed. You want your output to be both of those things. If you do use a screen capture to output video, make it many small documents rather than one large one.
posted by Mo Nickels at 3:44 PM on January 31, 2012

A potential employer has asked me to make recommendations on improving a website.

Yeah, I bet they did! Are you doing this for free?
posted by rhizome at 6:33 PM on January 31, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions! I found PDFpro, and am playing around with it, but may wind up just creating a straight written report in Word.

rhizome, I am doing it for free. They've been a solid (and well-paying) freelance client in the past, and specifically asked me to only give general recommendations, and not spend more than an hour or so looking over the whole site. I'd like to create a presentation that puts me ahead of the other final candidate.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 7:23 PM on January 31, 2012

Best answer: Check out Notable. You can take screen shots and annotate them in a web-based app. It's a commercial product but there's a free plan.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:34 AM on February 1, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use a Google Chrome extension called 'Awesome Screenshot' that allows you to screenshot all or part of a page, annotate it and then output it as an image. I use it pretty much every day at work for managing page amends and new content ideas.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:23 AM on February 1, 2012

Oh, and if it's going to be a more radical page redesign, I'll screenshot the page, blank out the bit I want to change in an image editor, then paste the image as a background into something like Balsamiq to quickly mock up page elements.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:26 AM on February 1, 2012

If you're looking for short annotations, a tool like Skitch can be useful. If the webpage is longer than one screenful, then a tool like Paparazzi! will turn the whole page into one graphic.
posted by Wild_Eep at 10:03 AM on February 1, 2012

Response by poster: Notable is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks so very much.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 2:06 PM on February 1, 2012

Response by poster: Follow up: my potential (now current) employers were SOOOOO impressed with my Notable presentation. I'm sure it helped me get the job.
posted by 2soxy4mypuppet at 12:33 PM on March 21, 2012

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