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  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    15909

    Current Rating

    Visual Appeal:
    1.5 out of 5

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    www.lynbrookglass.com/test

    I'm about 90% done with this site I'm doing for my father glass company. This is my first site that I built from the ground up so any and all feedback is welcome. I have a couple of years self-taught experience from updating my other company's website. I read a lot of FAQ's and best practices and I think I incorporated them. If I missed something, I'm all ears. Some areas I'd really appreciate feedback/advice are:

    - About Us: Is it too long? Boring? Too repetitive?

    - Images: a) A hard drive crashed with all of our old job photos. I had to scan a few images and they don't look as good. Does it give a bad vibe?
    b) Some photos are used more than other throughout the site. Do you get sick of seeing them?
    c) A few photos are professionally taken. Most are just snapped in the field with a decent (I think 5 MegaPixels) digital camera. Would you rather see 100 decent pictures in a wide range of applications or 20 professionally taken photos? Is it that important, what kind of impression does it give off? I'm on the fence with this one.

    - We don't have a website and the catalog/brochures haven't been updated since the early 90s. The website was supposed to kill 2 birds with 1 stone. I made the site to be less than 600 pix wide so that it would print without switching to landscape. It isn't a WYSIWYG print because I used background images and would waste a lot of paper with white space. Is there a way to get good printed copy? I can't figure out how to export it as a pdf with the background images and not printing 5 pages when it should be 2 or 3. (I use Dreamweaver MX 2004, photoshop cs2, acrobat 8)

    - I used the validator at http://validator.w3.org/. I get consistent errors from the background images on all of the pages. It's pulling up errors on this line:
    <td background="images/titlebar2.jpg" height="65"><table width="594" height="66" border="0" cellspacing="0">

    It's saying the " are causing problems with td background and table height. I changed it to:

    <td background=images/titlebar2.jpg height="65"><table width="594" height=66 border="0" cellspacing="0">

    It went from 2 errors to 31 errors (check aboutus.htm and aboutus2.htm to see what I'm talking about)



    - I don't have the Windows and Canopies portfolio page yet. I know that the Contact Us form isn't working correctly, I'm switching servers and it should fix the problem.


    Some competitors websites for reference:
    http://www.karasglass.com/index.htm
    http://www.wwglass.com/default.asp
    http://www.mthindustries.com/
    http://www.trainorglass.com/
    http://www.jordanpanel.com/
    http://www.royalite-mfg.com/


    Thanks in advance. I'd also love to see general comments about layout, navigation, colors, etc.

    Anthony

  2.  

  3. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    488
    Member #
    11940
    It looks a little over designed. It's shouting "hire me as your web designer" as much as buy the product the site is about. It's too gimmicky.

    Check out the Gensler site. IT's got Flash animation, but the designer isn't using it to ram "web design" down the viewer's throat.

    Gensler is pretty much the same general idea and similar elements, but execution is completely different. Really the thing I get is the Gensler designer has nothing to prove so doesn't go overboard.

    The word "over design" is used outside web design. It's about time it is applied in web design.

  4. #3
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    I agree with DC.

    As a former architect, I would be turned off by your site - it makes your company look amateurish, and the heavy focus on designing a gimmicky interface would make me feel like you're trying to hide something.

    Your website should be less like a 3d interface and more like a brochure.

    I think you have great content - better than any of your competitors, but the interface is detracting from it.

    Of your competitors, I really like Pilkington's interface. It's clean and simple and easy to navigate, and allows the photos and text to speak for themselves.

    Some suggestions:
    1. Make your overall site wider - at least 750px, and preferably 1000px.

    2. Get rid of all the 3d effects and crap.

    3. Go for white on white (stark) or white on black bg (high contrast) for an architectural site.

    4. Eliminate all faux gimmicky interface junk -specifically the fake metal. I know it's what you do, but it's not selling you. It's what architects refer to as "kitsch" - not a good thing.


    Some examples of good "archfriendly" web designs:

    http://www.autodesk.com/ <--- start here... they spend big dough figuring out what architects like
    http://www.apple.com/ - simple, clean, stark - the essence of minimalist design
    http://www.fantasyinterfaces.com/ - high contrast, high impact, hard-edged design

    One thing you'll notice about all of the above is that they achieve lots of impact with little more than good use of contrast and layout.

    Good luck!

  5. #4
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    I appreciate the comments although I don't neccesarily agree with them. I've only received postive response from those that I've showed it to so this caught me off guard. I basically put the competition in two categories: Royalite, Trainor, and Pilkington vs Kara's, Jordan, and MTH. I don't work for Lynbrook so I don't know the quality of work that the competition does. Based on the websites ONLY, the first group looks like they do good work and the second group looks like they don't. I didn't want to fall into the later group. I did the best with what I have/know to make a site like the first group. Would you say that I fall into the second group?

    Web design is one of the many hats I wear. It's fun and all, but I'm way too busy to really get into it. I don't have the creative juices and artistic ability to do it more. I originally had the site very basic but I wanted to spruce it up a little bit. My other page (www.visiontron.com) has that basic feel to it. Another company designed it and put it together. Over the years I've handled all of the updates, but I never had room to roam. This was a fun little side project for my father's other company and gave me the chance to experiment a little. I used graphics that looked good, worked together, and fit with the overall feel without being overly tacky. I tried to make it extremely user friendly (everything within a click or 2, links everywhere, no dropdown menus, etc.)

    I have too much time into this site for a complete redesign. It's already been dragging on for 9 months. If you would choose one thing to make it less tacky, what would you change? I'm a minimalist and think less is more; I didn't think this was overboard at all. I'm open to suggestions, but I'm not about to redo the site. The 3D look is really that bad? I think it looks better than being flat and wasn't overboard.

    Why go wider? A good amount of people still use 800x600, I don't want these people to have to scroll. I made it 600 to serve as a printed brochure as well (which hasn't worked out as planned.) Any way of making it print better or is that something I should have kept in mind during the design?

  6. #5
    WDF Staff smoseley's Avatar
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    Unfortunately, there's no simple way to fix all the problems I see with the site. One way to resolve my two primary issues is to eliminate the top header and top navigation, put your navigation on the left in a new 150px-wide column, and create a new 780px-wide header that consumers much less vertical real-estate. Then, put your existing content in a right column. See here: http://www.transio.com/_Lynbrook

    PS - in the future, you should consider using divs and CSS for design - that way, you can easily change the look of a site without having to modify any of the HTML docs.

    PPS - also consider using a templating system or CMS (like Joomla) - that way, you can easily redesign the whole site and your content will be safe. Most CMSes also come with print-templates that will allow your customers to get a print-ready version of your site with no extra work from you.

  7. #6
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    Wow, I wish I heard about Joomla when I first started this project. I couldn't see the demo, but I get the idea from viewing a couple user sites.

    My other site is laid out basically the same way as your sample. I've been debating about the side navigation bar for printing reasons. I wanted the page to fit 600 px wide; adding the side bar would really condense everything so I left it out.

    I'm an amature and only used CSS for the fonts. I put the site up how I knew how to do it, I should have spent a little more time researching the ever changing world of web design. My next project might be creating a website focused on our Retracta-Belt crowd control stanchions. I definetely need to get up to date on that or just leave it to the experts.

    Thank you for helping me out so far!


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