WDR visits the "Thomasinamusic.com" site looking for an idol. What they found was not what they expected... the site developer writes:
Content on this site includes streaming audio or full downloads of her demo, a background biography, performance schedule, and more. Thomasina feels that she is giving back to the music community by allowing others to see how a demo is made, and what it consists of.
An American Idol Web Site Gone Bad?
Critique by Fred Showker
What if you sent Randy, Paula and Simon to this web site to consider you as an "American Idol" contestant?
What have we gotten ourselves into?
In these days of high-powered music industry hype and glitz you've got to sell the sizzle. Even if you aren't an "American Idol" hopeful you've got to play the game or get run over.
While there's no indication that Thomasina is an Idol hopeful, the primary purpose of her web site is to win the viewer's heart with music -- and then, hopefully sell you some of that music.
If you actually make it to the point where you can listen to Thomasina's music, you're going to discover a vocalist with a wonderful voice doing a super job covering the songs of such stars as Whitney Houston and Celine Dion. Judging from the music we listened to on this site, Thomasina certainly could be an American Idol.
The bad news is: arriving at this web site instantly makes one think the link went to the wrong web site. This certainly is not the web site of a talented young vocalist.
Randy might say...
"Yo, yo, Thomasina , dawg... yo Thomasina wazzup, wazzon -- y'know, Thomasina, your voice really nailed the song, but yo, y'know, I couldn't get with the packaging, y'know. The site's all wrong for you, y'know... I can't get past it"
Paula might say...
"Thomasina, I really love your voice and the way you take on such difficult songs like Whitney Houston, Dion but you really need to work on the look -- it's just not you... I can't get past it."
Simon surely would say...
"Horrible! Thomasina, you're a pretty good singer, that's why you've made it this far. But if you're going to stay in the competition you've got to bring the site up to Idol standards. Right now I would have to say 'pack your bags!'"
But seriously folks, this is not the site of Thomasina. Aside from insurmountable cosmetic problems like the cold blue 'off-the-shelf' buttons, the site has some fundamental problems and probably should be redesigned from the bottom up.
Inflexible design looses friends
First and foremost upon arrival is the problem of inflexibility. Hard coded sizing forces the content into a rigid design unforgiving to various monitors.
We tested this site on several monitors and several connections. The page loaded quickly enough, but it's been hard coded into a specific size and shape -- making it very difficult for the more popular home computer monitors around the world.
Open Diagram: "Monitor Comparison"
The top window is a reduced copy of the arrival screen (with browser decoration and menus removed) viewed on a 17 inch SONY monitor set to 1024 x 768. The bottom window shows the screen at the default setting for the monitor which is 832 x 624.
This is an unfortunate trade-out: if the viewer comes in at the default settings, the top banner is badly off center, and about 25% of the content requires horizontal scrolling. Most surfers are too lazy to scroll, so we've lost the "contact" button and the actual slogan for the site.
On the other hand if the user has cranked the browser up to the higher resolution of 1024 x 768 equally bad things happen. The type becomes almost unreadable. The graphics buttons lose very little so now call too much attention to themselves, overwhelming the actual content -- the important part!
Peeking at the code reveals it's a Microsoft FrontPage site with so many coding errors we soon stopped counting.
Coding is the least of their problems. Where this site needs help is in identity, brand and feel.
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