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Following Bennie C. Taylor's critique of " DeFazio's Catering" web site, we receive this critique from Donald Peterson ... and then Fred wraps it up with some tough love...

Pay attention to details...

BEFORE This website provides potential customers quick access to useful information. However, the design feels unfinished. All of the refinements that would make this a polished presentation are missing.

Here are a few suggstions that may improve this design.

Get rid of the red! There is simply too much red (or maroon) in the design of the home page. It "shouts" at the viewer and cheapens the design. Red must be used sparingly if you want to achieve a sophisticated look. Neutrals may make a better compliment to the maroon logo.

White space and margins

Sloppy margins look unprofessional. The layout needs crisp margins between blocks of text and better use of white space. Stick to left-aligned text in all text blocks for an elegant simplicity.

Navigation

There is no consistent navigation scheme on all pages of the website. Once you click on a link from the homepage, there is no way to navigate to other portions of the site. Add a consistent navigation bar to all pages.

Refinement

Attention to detail is needed to give this design some polish. For example, the logo has jaggy edges--it should be a higher resolution. I encourage the designer to study samples of clean, simple web design as a way of mastering the basics.

This designer has potential, but needs to pay attention to details.

This critique offered by Donald Peterson Newark1 Web Design Studio

It's not about web design...

It's about marketing

In our town you cannot get a table at the Outback Steak House with less than a 45-minute wait. You just can't, no matter what time of day. But right across the street is another restaurant where the food is twice as good -- the steaks twice as juicy -- for about the same price. Why does this happen? Marketing!

Both Bennie and Don have nailed the key elements for this web developer to concentrate on. And, rightly so, they concentrated on web design specifics. But Mr. DeFazio has problems that web design tweaks can't help. We need to back up and take a look at the big picture.

Both reviewers also made a slight misjudgment on one point: Red, Maroon, Burgundy are colors known for their appetite stimulating appeal. Keep the color! However you need to temper it with a range of warm colors. Open a bottle of Merlot or red Bordeaux, and match that color. But use it sparingly as an accent color along with muted tans, golds and browns. Show us breads and deserts -- tease us with the smell of fresh baking and oak.

Bennie's example was certainly nicely done, but the shift to black deadens the visual appeal, putting the whole responsibility of selling on the photos. This can spell disaster unless the photos are absolutely scrumptious. These aren't. Which brings me to the most important point:

People! Where are the PEOPLE??? Mr. DeFazio himself probably wouldn't buy catering from this site! Let's remember the famous old saying about road-side restaurants... where would you rather eat? At the place with no cars in the parking lot... or across the street where the parking lot is filled and the dining room is bustling? If no one eats there, you probably don't want to either.

Mr. DeFazio (or whoever) should get a photographer and stage some photos specifically for the web site. Or, perhaps it could be done by a staffer. But the key would be to begin developing a portfolio of good shots from actual catered events.

Let's see some happy people enjoying DeFazio's wonderful spreads... let's see a handsome chef carving the prime rib under warming lights -- and let's have a line of hungry diners waiting to be served! The photos DeFazio is using are cold and uninviting. Try taking the exact same shots again -- but first bring in a half dozen 200 watt lights and warm the scene up with some incandescent light. Fluorescent lighting and camera flash is the absolute worst thing you can use with food! Even if you have to stage an event and hire people to attend, if this is your product, you MUST show it! And your product is NOT lists of menus and arrangements or empty table place-settings. Your product is service, service, service and happy people gathering at an even and enjoying DeFazio's food and service, service, service!

Don't feel bad, Mr. DeFazio -- we surfed for a good half hour looking for a catering firm who does a good job on the web. Alas, all of the ones we found were simply horrible! It would seem catering industry needs a good shot-in-the-arm, a good lesson in marketing and some cracker-jack creative directors.

This example and this example both came close, but see how the flash ruins them? And still no people. Then, look at this one! It's certainly inviting... but what would make it better? PEOPLE!

Both reviewers touched on the points of text -- particularly centered text. They nailed it! Never use centered text unless it's a list intended to be read line by line. Then use it sparingly, with very short line lengths where each line can be read as a single visual gulp. On web pages, centered text is death. People simply won't read it. The eye really needs that straight left margin to help organize and glide through the content. To make matters worse, those three "shapes" of centered text are encroaching on each other's space... the gutters between columns are all but nonexistent. In fact... let's re-write that content and kill about 60% of it because it's not needed at this point and no one will read it anyway! One picture will communicate ALL that text... or perhaps two.

This web site is a raw content draft -- not at all finished nor ready for publication. We don't mean to be too tough, but sometimes our reviewers aren't tough enough. You got to be tough to present tender catering! Sell us. Make us hungry. Convince us in the first 30-seconds that we definitely MUST have DeFazio cater our event!

Fred Showker

 

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