Saturday, March 7, 2009

Looking at homepages

My class at Texas Tech right now, Online Publishing, has been studying the art of homepages, particularly focused on portfolios and academic needs. We've been asked to give a couple of comments on each. So here they are:

Chris Andrews
An opportunity for improvement: The thematic colors feel drab to me. Maybe it's the grainy post-industrial feel desired, and it certainly is different than most sites, but it also tires my eyes fairly quickly.
My favorite aspect so far: There are many parts of this page and site that I think are engaging. Definitely feels experimentational and edgy, with the unusual color choices and abstract entry point. I don't know why, maybe because it was something that caught me by surprise, but I spent way too much time trying to figure out how the arm worked on the "current research and projects" page.

Jessica Badger

An opportunity for improvement: A "before" and "after" flash animation would be an interesting way to hook people on the site.
My favorite aspect so far: The personal story, yet universal story, told clearly, is fantastic asset.

Sharba Chowdhury
An opportunity for improvement: When reading about Calcutta, and India, it would be helpful to see some of the places being described. This area is so far removed from my experiences that I really need help imagining it.
My favorite aspect so far: The site design is efficient and straightforward. Easy to navigate and explore.

Dominic Evans

An opportunity for improvement: Some movement, animation or video, could bring even more life to this site. How about a mouseover that opens the front door?
My favorite aspect so far: The colors on that opening page just grabbed me, like a vibrantly decorated sandwich board, and made me want to go inside the site. Thematically, once in there, it did feel like a cool clubhouse.

Shawna Hayden
An opportunity for improvement: Who is the intended audience for this page? Is it simply informational? Or, if the goal is to get potential clients to make contact, could some of the text snippets be written more with that in mind?
My favorite aspect so far: The falling colorful blocks that serve as portal entries are very cheerful and inviting. Easy to navigate.

Adrian Jackson

An opportunity for improvement: Site consistency. For example, not sure why different sets of buttons are in separate places.
My favorite aspect so far: The fly-in text and pulsating flower give a touch of action. The animation of the buttons, too, makes the page lively.

Carie Lambert
An opportunity for improvement: Color theme is virtually monochromatic. Without action or much contrast, either, this makes the site flat visually.
My favorite aspect so far: Easy to navigate and get to the information promised, which is delivered.

Ashley Owen
An opportunity for improvement: More pizazz could help, to separate this page from the pack. Maybe something that personalizes it.
My favorite aspect so far: Clean layout, with well-defined portals into the content.

Melody Wainscott
An opportunity for improvement: More content would give visitors additional reasons to stay longer and look around.
My favorite aspect so far: The mouseover-and-click option on a part of a photo (in this case a person) is really effective at getting a visitor to explore an image.

Rebecca Widder

An opportunity for improvement: Wallpaper overwhelms the rest of the content.
My favorite aspect so far: A professional window into a person's career and life but with some personal touches.

Monica Wesley
An opportunity for improvement: The original artwork seems underplayed. This kind of illustrative talent should be center stage, not buried in a button, creating entry points for the rest of the unique skills.
My favorite aspect so far: Elegant and nuanced in color and style combined with easy navigation.

And here is the work I've done in redesigning my homepage, which primarily has just been focused so far on the opening interface. I have a plan now that I think will carry through to all of the pages and any expansion I want for the foreseeable future. So look for more changes in the next few weeks and months, especially on the portfolio pages. Let me know what you think of my efforts, or if you visit any of the other pages in the class mentioned here, I'm sure they would all appreciate the feedback as well. Any tips from you out there?


Melody Wainscott said...

Thanks, Brett. I'm adding a bit more content, but mostly visual, in the form of old photos I finally scanned into jpegs of lab stuff and other CISER employment I've had. Also, my podcast will be here as well. And truly, my objective is to make a template (website and podcast) for future Featured Alumni Scholars to follow. We've got some Amazing Howard Hughes Scholars to showcase with exciting science careers that our audience will really want to see.

Monica said...

Thanks for the compliment, Brett, on my illustrations. I had a hard time with this assignment focusing on what skill set to display... the illustration, the design, the writing, or my role as an educator? Perhaps I need to rethink the design to better balance these so that each receives adequate attention. Thanks again for your comments.

Chris said...

Thanks for the feedback, Brett. I'm starting to have some second thoughts about the colors, too--mostly just the background color. Not sure which way to go with it at this point.

Of course, the really funny thing about the arm picture on the projects page (this is something my wife pointed out) is that the pen is actually capped--I'm holding the wrong end of the pen to the pad! I never even noticed it--I just picked up the closest pen and started shooting pictures...

Carie said...

Thanks for the feedback, Brett. I appreciate your suggestion and will work on the color scheme.

ALO said...

Thanks for your feedback, Brett. I really appreciate your comments. I agree my site could use some pizazz of some sort. I get 'hung up' design wise because of the fact it is a professional site. I have a brain blockage there I need to break through. Thanks!


Sharba Roy Chowdhury said...

Thanks, Brett. I am planning to do my podcast on Calcutta and put it somewhere on the Homepage. Maybe that will help you a little.
~ Sharba