How to improve my website design?
November 4, 2005 7:20 AM   Subscribe

Constructive criticism of my website design?

Would like to improve layout and flow for a better visitor experience. Design-wise, what would you fix first? I'm not a hardcore web guy and I'm on a tight budget. Free/cheap graphical WinXP tools suggestions would also be welcome.
posted by ZenMasterThis to Computers & Internet (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Put the stuff about buying things higher up. I actually quite like the insanely simple design, it's refreshing.
posted by alexst at 7:24 AM on November 4, 2005

Couple of quick points - i've looked at the front page and am not sure what the site is or does. Looks like you can buy things but it's not that clear what.

My first fix would be a clear home page, all on one screen to limit the scrolling - Maybe a sample picture of what you're selling - something to make me want to look further.
posted by jontyjago at 7:27 AM on November 4, 2005

I, too, cannot tell what the site is or does. My first reaction was "is there any content here?". Whatever the purpose, it seems that the masthead area with logo and slogan, etc. takes an entire page. I have to scroll down before I can even get to the, well, the stuff that I don't understand.

Be clear about what it is the site offers. Make the decorative stuff take less space. (See the top of this very page to understand what I mean.)
posted by jdroth at 7:39 AM on November 4, 2005

Best answer: I'd also suggest something along the lines of jontyjago's ideas...

My initial impression of the page wasn't very good, seeing as how the first bits of information I see are an animated GIF and something about spreading the word.

Untill you hit the testimonials/quotations you don't really get any other information on the contents of the page.

I'm always one to appreciate simplicity, but this should be broken up into sections, including a clear and concise landing page that introduces the first time visitor.

Browsing the stickers is a pain, I'd rather see a discernable thumbnail of the sticker(s) in a table rather than having to click through the text links to see what each individual sticker looks like.

Snap together some sections, a nicer shopping interface/product display system and get some cleaner graphics and font selections integrated.
posted by prostyle at 7:47 AM on November 4, 2005

It sort of reminds me of what was trying to do a decade ago. Like you they used a very simple design but unlike your current design they concentrated on getting you straight to relevant content (without having to scroll etc). I take it you don't want a standard looking site.
posted by rongorongo at 7:54 AM on November 4, 2005

Best answer: Try not to have just one line of content straight down the middle.
Use tables or CSS to get 2 or three columns, that way you can have an intro/explanation in the middle, some sort of navigation on the left, and maybe the "buy right now" links on the right.
posted by signal at 7:56 AM on November 4, 2005

Best answer: I'm certainly not a web designer. I'm barely HTML literate, but I am a web consumer, and a knucklehead with an opinion, so here's my quick hits:

1) think horizontal rather than vertical, too much scrolling
2) font reminds me of Drudge Report, ew. Think smaller, more professional
3) too much white space between lines, between graphics
4) color is your friend. Go to Color Blender and find some ones you like that go together.
5) think about grabbing some free HTML templates and modifying them to your site. Google will bring you scads of them
6) At first I thought you sold dynamite for people to throw into rivers and lakes to kill fish. Now I see it's tshirts, stickers, etc. That's a problem.

I could see where the idiosyncratic, rebellious, low tech design would be in keeping with the site's nature, but if you're looking to sell stuff rather than confuse or even entertain people, might want to rethink it.
posted by willmize at 8:00 AM on November 4, 2005

is this a cleverly disguised self-link?
posted by glenwood at 8:10 AM on November 4, 2005

avoid one massive column of centered-everything :-D
posted by vanoakenfold at 8:20 AM on November 4, 2005

Response by poster: glenwood: It would only be disguised if I had said: "here's this guy's website; tell me what's wrong with it."

Metafilter is a place where a lot of web design / graphic design guys hang out, and I'm really looking for thoughtful, honest criticism so I can improve my site.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:20 AM on November 4, 2005

Best answer: Disclaimer: I'm not a web designer, but a consumer and programmer with opinions.)

1) There's no reason the entire first "page" (i.e. the part I can see) should consist only of logo and title. It's like the splash pages of old. I can't even see the subtitle "Fresh memes for independent minds... ...and delightfully cheesy web design" without scrolling. (I'm at 800x600.)

2) When I click "Buy stuff now" I'm taken to another "splash" page with an "enter the store" link and a bunch of text I'm not going to read. This is stupid.

3) Deal with the payment method AFTER I decide to buy something. The front page should have ONE link to the store. People are more likely to look at stickers and then decide to buy something than say to themselves, "Hmm.. well I've got this credit card lying around, I might as well buy something with it!"

4) Your "free stuff" isn't stuff, which I assumed to be merchandise, it's content.

5) I don't want to scroll past a "page" of semi-witty but entirely unhelpful testimonials. Do I really need testimonials about stickers? It's not like I'm buying a car.

6) Why is someone going to want to "spread the word" before even seeing most of your site?

7) Actually, this is the biggest one of all. I have to click through 4 or 5 links just to see the stickers, which are really the purpose of your site, it seems. The first page should have a bunch of stickers on it.

Summary: You're acting like people have decided to buy some stickers that they already know are on your site and they're willing to click a few links to do so. Instead, your site should highlight the stickers. I.e., put your product front and center.

Here are two examples of sites that do it better (though not perfectly:) ROF and Evolve Fish.
posted by callmejay at 8:25 AM on November 4, 2005

The front page should have ONE link to the store.

Actually, the front page should BE the store.
posted by callmejay at 8:26 AM on November 4, 2005

Re: the stickers. Anti-aliasing.
posted by blag at 8:49 AM on November 4, 2005

willmize - thanks for the ColorBlender link, that should be really useful.
posted by NthMonkey at 10:01 AM on November 4, 2005

Surface the content as much as possible. Right from the get go one should be in the shopping section, with visible thumbnails of stuff to purchase.
posted by xammerboy at 10:03 AM on November 4, 2005

Your missing ALT information for all your images. This is both unfriendly to anyone using a screen reader or text browser and missing a SEO opportunity.
posted by Mitheral at 12:22 PM on November 4, 2005

Response by poster: SEO?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:22 PM on November 4, 2005

Response by poster: Ah, "search engine optimization." Thanks.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:29 PM on November 4, 2005

Remember the golden rule Courer is the enemy.
posted by delmoi at 12:41 PM on November 4, 2005

I couldn't tell what I can do on your website in the first three seconds.

There was no product on the front page.

Once I realized what I could do, I was four clicks from seeing the products. They should be visible on the front page.

I had to pick my method of payment before I saw your This iproduct.

Your page title is long, confusing and redundant.

You shouldn't say "Free Stuff" for stuff that nobody would pay for anyway. The whole section is unrelated to your goal (sell product!) anyway. Treat it as such.

If you want people to spread the word, create an affiliate program and mention it in small print at the bottom of the page or something. People act out of self-interest, and there's no reason for them to "spread the word". (nor should I see a section about spreading said word before I know what the hell you sell)

The "en masse" links shouldn't be neccessary if you have a decent product browsing system.

I apologize for any redundancies which may exist in this post. I purposefully skipped reading the other responses, to avoid mental prejudice.
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:36 PM on November 4, 2005

Somebody above mentioned browsing at 800x600. I browse at fairly high resolution and this is a screengrab from my un-resized browser window. Pretend you know nothing about your company for a second... can you tell what services are available on this site?

You need to remember that other people have no reason to use your site. They do not care about your company or its products. Your goal is to change that in a matter of seconds.

My last comment is that I absolutely despise your product images. You need graphics that don't look like something spewed out by Microsoft paint.
posted by I Love Tacos at 3:59 PM on November 4, 2005

What callmejay/xammerboy said. Put the images of the stickers/t-shirts on the front page. Put 'em way up there so I don't have to scroll. Make the images big enough so I can read 'em, but not so big that they're taking up loads of space. However you're converting your text to images, find a better way that doesn't give the images the "jaggies" (going from Illustrator to Photoshop would help, or you could even compose your messages directly in Photoshop). Unless, of course, that's what the finished product looks like.
posted by user92371 at 9:40 PM on November 4, 2005

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