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  1. #1
    Member amessinger's Avatar
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    Current Rating

    Visual Appeal:
    3.0 out of 5

    Accessibility:
    4.0 out of 5

    Website Speed:
    4.0 out of 5

    Compatibility:
    4.0 out of 5

    Overall Rating:
    3.0 out of 5

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    Over the last month, I've been making incremental improvements to my business site. With the latest revisions, launched a few days ago, I'm calling this version "done" for now. I'd love to get some honest feedback on the look, organization, usability, and content. Your suggestions will help improve future iterations of the site. Thanks in advance!

    Here's a quick run-down of what's changed and what's new. I'm open to comments about any area of the site, but I'm particularly interested in whether these things met my goals:

    New Stuff

    • The blog.
    • New two-column home page layout.
    • Completely different, much improved masthead.


    Improved Stuff

    • Subtler gradients. (part of the ongoing purge of cliched Web 2.0isms)
    • All drop shadows were taken out back and shot. (ditto)
    • Vastly better typography.
    • Color scheme improvements.
    • Layout tweaks.
    • Expanded "About" section (main page still needs work, content-wise).
    • Generally cleaner code, with the exception of some work-arounds for Microsoft's "special needs" browsers.


    Broken Stuff

    There are a few known issues:

    • A couple of CSS problems (see this forum post). If you have any ideas on how to fix these, please share.
    • Due to one of those CSS issues (the first one), a single layout table is used for the older / newer links in the portfolio. The shame, it burns!
    • Major server-side problem: site occasionally refuses to render at all in IE6 or IE7. Seems to be related to some HTTP issues. My host has been non-responsive to my support ticket, so if you know a way to force HTTP 1.1 for all transfers (.htaccess magic?) I'd love to know about it. More details here.


    Update (5-9-2007): The server-side issue I mentioned has been resolved, thanks to help in another forum.
    Zenscope Studio
    Quality Website Development and Graphic Design
    Specializing in Independently-Owned Businesses and Non-Profits
    www.zenscope.com

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  3. #2
    Senior Member -chris-'s Avatar
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    Not bad, but I would rather read about you before the other stuff on your home page. My other comment would be to add a bit of color to your content, be it a very slight (grey to grey) gradient behind the white column, or colored headings.

    Very nice.
    Portfolio | Blog | Twitter

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  4. #3
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    It's nice, but I find the `Skip to Content' link that appears at the top very very very annoying/distracting. I really don't think your header is tall enough to merit its presence.

    Aside from that, though, it looks great

  5. #4
    Member amessinger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowfiend
    It's nice, but I find the `Skip to Content' link that appears at the top very very very annoying/distracting. I really don't think your header is tall enough to merit its presence.

    Aside from that, though, it looks great
    "Skip links" like this are actually an accessibility feature for disabled users, especially blind users who otherwise have to wade through navigation links they've already heard their screenreader speak on previous pages.

    Links like these are often hidden from sighted users in a way that still allows screen-reading software to "see" and speak them. Some accessibility crusaders get cranky when you hide skip links, however, so I've decided to split the difference here. You should only see the link when your mouse hovers over a narrow band at the top of the page. You can see similar implimentations at molly.com and the Web Standards Project.

    If you're seeing the skip link all the time, please let me know your browser version and OS for further trouble-shooting. Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by -chris-
    Not bad, but I would rather read about you before the other stuff on your home page.
    Once the current promo is over, I'll be re-arranging all the home page content. Featured projects and recent blog posts will be up top, with "about" and testimonials below that. My feeling here is that my potential clients will care most about what I can do for them, so that's what I put at the top of the page.

    Quote Originally Posted by -chris-
    My other comment would be to add a bit of color to your content, be it a very slight (grey to grey) gradient behind the white column, or colored headings.
    That's a good point. I've considered some kind of subtle background or texture for the central content area, but haven't decided what yet. My main goal this time around was to get rid of the visual clutter and focus on the content. I'll be adding back some decoration here and there in the future, though. Good suggestion! :thumbsup:
    Zenscope Studio
    Quality Website Development and Graphic Design
    Specializing in Independently-Owned Businesses and Non-Profits
    www.zenscope.com

  6. #5
    Senior Member
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    I understand the usefulness of the link to blind users/screen readers, I just find it annoying. What's the gripe with such links being hidden? Having them show on mouseover seems to offer no significant difference...

  7. #6
    Member amessinger's Avatar
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    I honestly don't remember what the gripe was about hiding vs. not hiding the link. It's been a year since I did that, and it wasn't one of the things I touched in this redesign. I mostly decided to do it this way so that I'd have at least a half-satisfactory answer to critics on either side of that debate. :cheeky:

    The approach to the skip link is something I'm reconsidering for the next major redesign, but it'll likely be some months before that happens. I want to get some solid metrics on the work I've done so far, and also get some more content into the weblog that can be integrated throughout the rest of the site. It's on my list though, I swear.

    Just to clarify, you are only seeing the link on hover, right?
    Zenscope Studio
    Quality Website Development and Graphic Design
    Specializing in Independently-Owned Businesses and Non-Profits
    www.zenscope.com

  8. #7
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    Yeah. Actually, I'm not sure if that makes it more annoying :-P

    Like I said, though, it's a minor gripe -- everything else looks great.

  9. #8
    Member amessinger's Avatar
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    Thanks for your thoughts, Shadowfiend. You've definitely made rethinking skip link a stronger consideration for the next redesign.
    Zenscope Studio
    Quality Website Development and Graphic Design
    Specializing in Independently-Owned Businesses and Non-Profits
    www.zenscope.com


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