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Reader critiques WebDesign Review

says "you're almost as bad..."

Steve (no last name) from writes in with his critique of the page: faulty2.html.
I stumbled upon your website today by accident and thought I would check it out, because I am a web designer myself.
      At first I thought your whole site was a little basic for being about web design. Then I took a look at your critique page and clicked on the first site, Faulty Tower and thought, what an awful site. (The Faulty Tower site is even worse though).
      Who are you to critique other sites when your's is almost as bad? Have you looked at it lately? You have a page full of text that is centered with a sidebar (all in italics too) that blends right in with the body text. You have got to be kidding!!!Where did you go to design school???
      Anyway...... I just thought I would send you a review. Good luck with your site....
We thank Steve for his views on the Critiques layout. He has some valid points -- the site is really low key -- yet content has always been the primary focus rather than decoration. The original intent was to look like magazine pages, and it's been that way since the beginning. I only wish I had time to develop it a bit more stylishly. I'm working on it though, phasing in CSS.
      However, one comment you made causes me to wonder if there is a problem with the CSS...
  > You have a page full of text that is centered with 
  > a sidebar (all in italics too) that blends right 
  > in with the body text.
The text shouldn't display centered, but rather flush left with paragraph indents. I've posted a GIF file of the actual page, the way it should be displaying, in case your browser is having problems with the style sheets. We've had some readers report problems with the font styling, etc., due to the poor browser support for CSS. I'd like to remedy that. See if this matches your browser's view.
      The side bar should have a 10 pixel separation between it and the body copy. If you're not seeing that separation, you may be right -- and I should increase it. It should appear with a distinct visual separation.
Font styling
You may also be right about the italics... that block is usually a 'quotation' from the person posting the site for review, so italics would be appropriate.
      However some of the passages get lengthy, so it makes for a lot of text in italics. I'll change it to regular for the next go-around and we'll see if that looks better.
  > I thought your whole site was a little basic for 
  > being about web design.
Design is about the organization of information and images to clearly deliver the message. Yes, it is basic. Style is different from design, but both follow the rules of 'design.' High-style, or low-style, both have a place and both are governed by good design sense.
      You're right. This is a traditional presentation of the author's information. The design intention is more of a "report" layout. Therefore we felt the lack of decoration and/or unrelated visual elements was appropriate.
      Recently there was another person writing about our pages. The author wrote to say they enjoyed the "change" in pace from other web sites because our pages -- in their words -- are "dignified." So, obviously "taste" figures into the picture as well.
      I think your sentiment derives more from your personal taste than actual design axioms.
  > Who are you to critique other sites when your's is 
  > almost as bad? Have you looked at it lately?
Yes. Every day. And, yes, there are many things I'd like to change -- and will, as time permits. The Design Center has been online since 1994 without a facelift -- I'll agree with you: it does need refreshing. But I'll most likely continue to present the information in a straight, undecorated fashion.
You've got my curiosity going...
  > ...when your's is almost as bad?
I'd like to hear more of your views -- please return to the reviewed page for "Faulty Towers 2" and cite specific design mistakes we've made, and how you would remedy them. I think that would be insightful for us all.
      In fact, I'd like YOUR help in a project we've been working on: to develop a checklist of design criteria by which web sites should be judged. It's time to revisit website design axioms before 2004 to see if they've really changed in the past ten years.
Critique, comments, suggestions always welcome
I have always maintained an open-door policy, and am delighted to hear from those who care enough to take the time to write. There are not enough of you out there! We always enjoy and benefit from the feedback, suggestions and even critique of our own work. Which is the whole idea behind the WebDesign & Review mission!
      It helps us strive to do a better job, and make our visual communications more effective and more beneficial to all.
Kind regards,
Fred Showker
Posted: 4/8/2003

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