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Critique Briefs

Selected reviews during December, 2004

Review of: Georgetown College Parent's Site

Reviewer comments:
      This is in essence a microsite for parents as the page title states, and I think this is a nice concept and a good resource.
      I like the initial layout and navigation, it's "idiot proof" with clear buttons and is easy to use which gets a thumbs up. The colour schemes work well and the actual purpose of the site gives it an intrinsic value and mood.
      In terms of improvements I'd have to say I'm not a big fan of point 1 size text on sites if you actually need to read it, and I feel the designer should have avoided the photographic background show-through where the text field runs as it makes the already small serif text quite tough to read. Easy to fix though. Fade out the background photo under the text more and increase font size [ In spite of the client's serif logo style I'd have gone for Arial or Verdana as the html font but that's just me] - any changes are fairly painless work.
      If the changes took place I'd use them as an opportunity to do something about the grey tone as the background. Not convinced it's that complimentary to the orange, black and blue of the template which works nicely - I'd go darker or lighter rather than stay with the grey tone - maybe try a dark blue or black rather than introduce another colour with the grey?

Comments by Gareth Sketty

Review of: Patrick Williams - Estate agents in Berkshire

Reviewer comments:
      This is a nice clean and fresh design. It is certainly has a bit more life than many estate agent sites.
      My initial reaction is always concern when I see dynamic drop down menus as so often on websites these dynamic menus can simply grind to a halt when you move your cursor around at normal speed but this system works well. The menus drop down quickly and disappear promptly with little to no 'hanging' which to my mind makes this navigation both robust and intuitive.
      The header graphic and the subtle drop shadows on the buttons are nice and the page layouts are clean and clear with a nice use of a light beige.
      The staff profile pages [which can be a shambles on some sites] work very well and the database page results are efficient and seem to be giving relevant results which is a bonus. This site looks organised and I'd say in planning and preparation it was well organised. Bravo! [As the Italians would say].

Comments by Gareth Sketty

Urban Arts of Indianapolis

Reviewer comments:
      This is a multicultural arts education organization that employs the visual and performing arts to serve as a gateway to learning. As well as education and inspiring urban youths to become productive citizens.
      This is really the first site I've reviewed for this column, and I had come here with full intentions of slamming the site... but my initial reaction was just the opposite! "How Nice!" I thought...
      Arrival load was quite fast, and I was really impressed at how well that background loaded and worked! The brick is perfect for the "urban" theme, and the brightly colored "notes" (which act as buttons) are really very good for catching the eye and appealing to young people.
Navigation: as I said the buttons are perfect. Each takes the reader exactly where they expect to go, and the uncluttered presentation really let me look at the content -- something not found on very many sites.
Content: if you go to the "Programs" link, you see a similar page, now broken into two columns. They worked perfectly -- and in defence of animated graphics -- that little animation was just enough to appropriately captivate my attention.
Suggestions: Although the image for the header behind the buttons is nice, it would be really cool to change that for each "department" -- keep it the same size and overall coloration, but just change the content of the image to apply to the topic of the department. This would give not only a more professional look, but would help your readers get the 'flavor' of the content they're about to read.
      My biggest gripe are the burn-holes in the "Photos" area. To me they carry negative connotations. (A burn-hole???) How about bordered "snap shots" instead? Or some other indicator that will visually "say" what the button is. I just didn't like the burn-holes.
All in all I think you're doing a good job! :-)

Comments by R.J. Rakowski in Bethesda MD.

Review of: Georgetown Universiry Parent's Site

Reviewer comments:
      I enjoyed this site very much, although the type is quite often too small, and the content doesn't re-size to fit my browser window. I am over 50, and am finding web sites increasingly using type that is too small. I also like to keep my browser window just a little bit narrower than my 17" screen allows (at 1024 resolution), and when the sites aren't flexible to compress to fit that width it peeves me.
      It's also very annoying to have to scroll the frame over each time I load a new page.
      Other than that, the colors are nice, and their gel buttons look just like my iMac interface, except they're purple, so I feel right at home. All the pictures are nice and loaded quickly.

Reviewed by Roberta B, New Jersey


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