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Web Design and Review - reviews Abbeymoore Bed and Breakfast

A reader writes about the
Abbeymoore B&B site

Since this month's color scheme is "GREEN" I thought it appropriate to share some observations about one of our WebDesign & Review web sites where GREEN is NOT the color you would want to use.
        Because we suggest color combinations in our monthly color column, doesn't necessarily mean they'll be welcome in any layout. Quite the contrary.
        This was echoed by a WebDesign & Review reader who stopped in to review some of the reader-posted sites:

See the Makeover:
some rather nice changes have come to Abbeymore, that now make it much more warm and inviting! (The graphic will pop-up so you can put the before and after together!)
"design7" from Newark1.com comments:

"A nice design that is informative from the first page - well suited for researchers looking for quick info. I don't like the shade of green used on the front page - it looks like a neon green - a softer shade of green would work better. Also the paragraphs of text should not be all bold."

We agree.

When selecting a color scheme, the designer must carefully consider the subject matter, to whom the message is sent, and what other elements will be used in the orchestration of the overall design.

While the page does portray all the necessary information, and is organized in a logical, linear fashion, the overwhelming visual element that seems missing upon arrival is ROMANCE.

Abbeymoore Manor Bed and Breakfast

1. Point of Entry
The lovely photo of the Manor house really is inviting. Yet it could be a bit more distinct and sharp. This is your calling card, so it should instantly captivate the viewer's attention and stimulate desires to go there.
        When photographing the building, try putting people in the photo. In this scenario they would not be recognizable, but they would portray the feeling of inhabitation. Empty hotels, B&Bs or restaurants almost always set a subliminal marker that "no one is home."
        Additionally, there should have been people in the other photos -- enjoying the ambiance of the Manor. This B&B looks empty, like no one wanted to be there.

2. Color Scheme
While I suspect the color GREEN was imposed by the client, I would have suggested a color from the warm side of the color cube rather than the 'cool' side. Browns and earth tones would have been much more appetizing to the eye, and would have purveyed more of a 'home, hearth and heart' sort of atmosphere. The same goes for the green tint in the background block which holds the photos and text. Try a light tan or pale gold for that color and watch the room photos instantly become more inviting and comfortable.
        In the screen capture, notice how the warm photos seem alone and unrelated to the overall layout. Using green in this layout is doing the message a grave disservice.

3. Primary Typography
The way the Abbeymore Manor and English Bed & Breakfast type is integrated into the photo is a good idea and a good concept. I feel they're too tightly integrated however. Abbeymore Manor should have been another 30% larger and twice as dark. It would be interesting to see how much improved the overall arrival would be if that display type, , were the color of the medium wood paneling in the first photo. Picking up a color from a photo always tends to harmonize the overall page, unifying it into a single message.
        The typestyle itself is decorative enough that it could pose readability problems. It's nice though and fits with the theme, so larger and darker would make it much more dynamic. (A bit of tighter letter spacing would help too.)

4. Eye Flow
I'm somewhat disturbed by the eye flow here... first we're centered with the logo. The links below it lend a haphazard, and therefore unorganized look because of their different lengths. I understand they're centered in two table cells, however the uneven space leaves "trapped white space" in places it shouldn't be. Aligning left or right would have allowed the interior photo to move up, higher, on the page and get the reader into the content flow earlier.
        When designing for eyeflow, the designer needs to ask what is the most important message for the page, what you want your reader to see first, then where you want them to go next.
"Special Rates" takes a back seat to "Contact us & Map" -- with navigation taking such a prominent position in the layout you'll find visitors clicking away neglecting the rest of the page.
        Remember that FIRST we need to stimulate a desire in the reader to dig deeper into the message.

5. Captions: Text Color and Backgrounds
Next we introduce captions of white italics reversed out of dark green boxes. Not only are italics (small) difficult to read on the monitor, but reversed and against a green background makes the text unappealing and even more difficult to read.
        Captions are an important and essential element in any spread that contains photos. In fact, you'll find a majority of readers will read the captions first, and perhaps not even read the rest of the verbiage.
        Your challenge is to make those captions so easy to read that the reader's eye effortlessly flows into the text before the reader's mind realizes it's reading.
        In this set-up, the green reverses actually act as a deterrent to reading. Then the text is in italics! YIKES... small and italic is a dangerous styling not recommended for text you want the reader to read. Next time try a small text, but make it dark, NOT reversed. It would totally acceptable to change font for those captions too, try a sans serif. The fact that the font changes, and the isolation of the block under the photo is enough to call attention to the caption without having to resort to the reverse.

6. Blue, Bold Text
I somehow feel that the author of this page felt a hidden urge to make this text stronger. So they resorted to bold. This feeling is caused by the green background. Eliminate that, or replace it with a more pale tint and the need for bold is diminished.

A color change, and some typography savvy will make the Abbeymoore Manor web page a much more inviting, and comfortable site. I suspect it would also increase the number of inquiries and reservations as well.

What do you think?

Our color schemes are presented by Mr. Pixelsmith

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