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Abbeymoore Manor B&B Inn

... nice redesign!

In the original review request of Abbeymoore Manor B&B Inn, the author commented: Website for a Bed And Breakfast Inn in Victoria BC. Intended to convey an accurate interpretation of what the visitor will encounter at the B&B.
Previous Critique 1
Previous Critique 2
Reviewed by: Mike Swope
This site was previously reviewed by Design7 from Newark1, and the webmaster/designer for this site took Design7's comments to heart. As it should be, as Design7's comments were insightful and clear.
      Design7 recommended using colors from the warmer side of the color cube, instead of green. This site's redesign reflects the warmer side significantly, using brown and khaki earthtones to complement the excellently rendered photos throughout the site. The page background itself is now a medium khaki green, while accents on the site and the "logo" are a light khaki green, and the background for the page contents is a medium brown. Both colors are borrowed from the high-quality home page photo, as recommended by Design7. These new colors are used consistently throughout the site.
People Photos
The previous reviewer also recommended using people in the photographs to help make the B&B appear people-friendly, not uninhabited. The redesign does not address this suggestion -- but offers Instead, a gallery of photos taken by the guests. Athough a few people do appear in these snapshots, the photos are poorly lighted and reveal little depth. Additionally, the gallery creation was obviously automated (from Photoshop 6's web gallery script) and falls short of the redesign for the rest of the site. I believe the gallery feature could be dropped without losing anything but a button.
      Should Abbeymoore still try to get people in their photos? I don't think it's necessary with the great redesign, unless they have the budget to accomodate the same quality and style of photographs. If they don't, they shouldn't sweat it. The site is much improved without them.
Page Layout and Structure
The previous critique of this site commented on the eye flow on the home page, in that the page was organized haphazardly. The redesign addresses this issue elegantly, by using a two-column layout with ample margins between them. The left column contains the content and clearly identified links to 3rd level pages.
      The right column contains photos and complementary information such as customer testimonials, and contact information. Photos in circles help break up the otherwise squareness of the site, and contribute a bit of visual interest to the overall approach.
      Some of the photos used on some of the pages are also from the guest photo gallery, which explains why some of the photos are not up to the standard set by the rest of the photos.
      Care should be taken when making photos clickable. Some of the photos are click to open larger images (without the circle cropping), while others take you to another page. This inconsistency is a bit disconcerting because visitors might expect to see a larger photo but instead arrive at a different but related page.
Designing for different readers
In addition to the two-column layout, the site is also redesigned for "scanning," in which visitors search for blocks of information that interest them and overlook (ignore really) the rest of the content on the page. Scanning is assisted by the subheads and short, concise paragraphs throughout the site, and horizontal rules between content and links to further subpages. Most pages are a screen to two screens in height, with only a few requiring more length.
Reader "Usability"
The site's organization is also more user-friendly by bringing the main navigation to the very top of the brown content area and placing it consistently throughout the site. This change in navigation also tends to bring the content of the page higher in the visitor's browser, which is always a good practice. The more information the visitor can get in a "gulp" the more likely the visitor is to be able to navigate through the site.
Logo re-design
There is one final and somewhat clever change in this redesign, I'd like to comment on -- the new Abbeymoore Manor logo.
      I really think this is the first true logo for Abbeymoore Mannor. It is a decorative seal with Abbeymoore Moore centered in a horizontal banner across it, like the label on a jar of handmade jelly. That isn't so clever in the grand scheme of things, but when rolled over with the mouse, the new logo changes to read "Back to Home Page" in the horizontal banner, an effect which assists visitors unfamiliar with the convention to use a site's logo as the link back to the home page. Here, there is no mistaking it. Clicking the logo will take the user back "home."
Overall, the Abbeymoore Manor web site redesign is undeniably successful! They have all previous reviewers' comments to heart and brought "home" a new look and feel that will surely improve the use of the site.
Editor Notes:
Be sure to see privious Abbymore Critiques:
Posted: 10/29/2003

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