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Thread: First review ever

  1. #1
    Thinkin' out loud again Builder's Avatar
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    First review ever

    With a bit of trepidation I'm requesting my very first ever site review. Over the last few months I've been dragging my Scout Troop's website into the 21st century. It's dangerously close to done. There's few things still on the punchlist, mostly way down in the bowels of the site. One that isn't in the bowels is getting rid of the javascript popup windows on certain links. Working on it...

    Anyway, please review, critique and ream me a new one:

    http://troop53.net

    I'm not interested in "attaboy" comments. I want to know what doesn't work for you. Do you not like the design as a whole, or part of it? If so what would you do different? Does something "break" in whatever OS/browser combination you are using? Please tell me what that combination is along with browser version especially if it's Internet Explorer. Something else?

    Oh, and order a Koolie Cup while you're there. Just kidding!

    Cringingly,
    Kevin
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...
    but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying,
    "Damn... that was fun!"

  2. #2
    Rick
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    First, full marks for responsive design. Nicely done.

    I do have a couple of suggestions/nitpicks.

    1) You need some padding-left on <main>, and you could bump up the same setting on <nav>.
    2) I'd change the 'color' for a:visited to #000 or #008. The orange is a bit garish for my taste - especially when mixed with the blue and all against the all white background.
    3) For desktops, I'd increase the 'font-size' for the main text area to 14px to improve readability, reduce the white space, and add some visual appeal.
    4) I'd add a background color to the news box and maybe <nav> as well - perhaps with a modest box-shadow on the news box.
    5) If you're going to stick with a pop-up window for your contact form, either make the window taller or reduce the rows on the <textarea> so that it doesn't require scrolling to see the Submit button on desktops.

    Good luck!
    Rick Trethewey

  3. #3
    Thinkin' out loud again Builder's Avatar
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    Hey Rick! Many thanks for the suggestions! Let me respond a little bit, sometimes with more questions.

    1) How much padding do you think is necessary? 5px-ish? More? Less? Thinking about your whitespace comment in #3.

    2) a:visited color is left over from previous site version. The a:link color was changed to a softer blue but other link colors are legacy. Since I'm design and color "challenged" I'll trust your judgement and play around a bit with a:visited.

    3) Font-size: basically I attempted to change what was a 10pt font size from the previous version to an em equivalent. To my eye and screen it ended up at .8em. I went up from there for headings. Also increased line-height as an attempt to improve readability. OK. I'll play with that as well.
    "Reduce whitespace" confuses me a bit. Does this go along with #4? You recommend increasing padding which, in my pea brain, equals increasing whitespace (slightly anyway).
    "Visual appeal" -- Colors? Backgrounds? Graphics? Some pages have graphics, some pages not. I tend to only add them when they enhance the text content or make sense when used as a link to something else. At one time I wanted a graphical banner as the header background. Something along the lines of a collage of pics/graphics, but I'm not that creative or artistic. I can see a contest for the Scouts though!

    4) Nice idea on the news box background color and shadow; I'm gonna do it! I thought about a background color on <nav> but because <nav> and <main> are not necessarily equal in height I decided on the border instead. Not completely satisfied with that decision, but it seemed a reasonable compromise. But maybe the difference in height really doesn't matter too much WRT a <nav> BG color. I had thought about a very light gray or tan, but maybe another color would be better.

    5) That's a punchlist item along with the boilerplate links in the footer. At one time it made a slight bit of sense to use that popup; it no longer does. You are absolutely right: There's too much content in all of those files for the window size. However, other sections of the site which haven't yet been remuddled (sic ) also have links to pop up those same files. Pretty much if I change them now I break something somewhere else. An interim solution in mind is to create includes of the files' content and drop them in to differently named files. The "new" design would have the includes wrapped in the new template. The "old" design would have the includes wrapped in the popup style template. Convoluted and confusing logic admittedly, but until another hundred or more pages are updated it's all I can come up with. Anyway, one way or another eventually the popups will be gone.

    Funny story about responsive design: At the August or September Troop Committee meeting I announced that the Troop website would be getting a makeover. When I said "The new design will be mobile-friendly", the Secretary blurted out, "Oh thank God!" So yeah, responsive design was a high priority and waaaay overdue. Thanks for the compliment.

    Thanks for the input!
    Kevin
    Last edited by Builder; 12-14-14 at 04:27 PM. Reason: singular/plural...
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...
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  4. #4
    target='_blank' snowmaker's Avatar
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    About all I can say is, "attaboy!". Seriously though, when I clicked on 'Summer Camp 2014' the nav menu was on the left.. I'd have to agree with what Rick had stated earlier. Also, the page that loads from the 'In Memory' menu link has text that is difficult to read over the background image displayed. I wouldn't use j/s as much, but that is mostly a webmaster preference. Other than that "attaboy!"
    -bruce /* somdcomputerguy */
    'If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.'

  5. #5
    Flight Liner
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    There are good amount of information in your site,
    But I believe that you should modify the design, also you should use some dynamic popup menus or drop down menus, so the visitor can't miss direction or links between pages,

  6. #6
    Thinkin' out loud again Builder's Avatar
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    @ Bruce:
    Thanks for the input!

    Re Summer Camp 2014 stuff: Kind of forgot all about that. I normally keep camp information up until the following year's information is available. Perhaps it needs to be killed off early this year. Thanks for the reminder .

    @Dbreh: I have considered putting "bread crumb" menus, like what's at the top of this page, on some pages. Thanks for looking!

    Kevin
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...
    but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying,
    "Damn... that was fun!"

  7. #7
    Thinkin' out loud again Builder's Avatar
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    A few of the suggestions have been addressed:
    • Changed a:visited to #008 (I liked the blue better than black ). However, I'm now thinking of just dropping a:visited altogether, or at least making it the same color as a:link. There's some precedence for this elsewhere on the site.
    • Bumped up the font-size to .9em. That should be pretty close to 14px since I've been led to believe that 1em is very roughly 16px.
    • Padding-left has been increased on <main> and <nav> to 8px
    • The news box now has a background color and a box-shadow. The background color came from something else in the stylesheet and may not be exactly optimal. The heading in the box was darkened slightly to increase contrast.
    • Removed the Summer Camp 2014 link from the navigation menu (gotta love includes)


    One more "@ Bruce":
    Re the "In Memory" page. Should the background image be faded even further to increase contrast? I don't remember how I did it in the first place 10+ years ago . Or is there some other method to do it? Font-color maybe?

    Again, many thanks to all! Everything suggested is being considered even if I haven't commented on, or implemented them yet.
    Kevin
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...
    but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying,
    "Damn... that was fun!"

  8. #8
    target='_blank' snowmaker's Avatar
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    Well it wasn't the content of the SummerCamp page that I was commenting on, just that the nav menu was on the left, instead of the right like all the other pages. As for the Memory page, and whether to fade the background image or change the text color, I would, since the text color on other pages is black, keep the same color and fade the image. That's what I would do though.. As for the "attaboy" comment, I didn't mean to say "attaboy" twice, just once. So, "attaboy"!
    -bruce /* somdcomputerguy */
    'If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.'

  9. #9
    Thinkin' out loud again Builder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowmaker View Post
    Well it wasn't the content of the SummerCamp page that I was commenting on, just that the nav menu was on the left, instead of the right like all the other pages.
    There isn't any ROI on going back and rebuilding 30-something (?) pages pertaining to an event which occurred 6 months ago so it's gone. In addition, nobody cares... 2015's summer camp info will be available soon enough. Confession time: the 2014 folder and files are still there; I just commented the link.

    Quote Originally Posted by snowmaker View Post
    As for the Memory page, and whether to fade the background image or change the text color, I would, since the text color on other pages is black, keep the same color and fade the image. That's what I would do though..
    Gack! I was afraid you'd say that. Lemme look around for something I have (or don't) to fade that graphic even more.

    Quote Originally Posted by snowmaker View Post
    As for the "attaboy" comment, I didn't mean to say "attaboy" twice, just once. So, "attaboy"!
    That's three times now.

    A couple other suggestions have been dealt with:
    First, rainbore's point #5 which also kind of coincides with snowmaker's "too much JavaScript" insinuation (and a valid insinuation it is ). The Contact form and the "boilerplate" links at the bottom of the pages now appear as "real" pages rather popping a new window. Thanks to all for giving me a push off Top Dead Center on that. The new Contact Form has already been used by a guy in Utah looking to acquire some Scout patches.
    Second, a:link and a:visited are now the same color. I think it looks cleaner. And the slightly different blue colors were probably somewhat confusing.
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...
    but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying,
    "Damn... that was fun!"

  10. #10
    target='_blank' snowmaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Builder View Post
    .. I just commented the link.
    I do that that a lot of times, whenever I'm changing or deleting something and I'm not sure if I might want it back..

    Quote Originally Posted by Builder View Post
    Gack! I was afraid you'd say that. Lemme look around for something I have (or don't) to fade that graphic even more.
    I use IrfanView for mild edits or resizing or just viewing images, and GIMP for more than mild edits of images. To fade out an image, I've had the most success with toying around with the brightness and/or contrast of that image.. Irfanview might and I'm sure GIMP probably both have 'image effects' to do just that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Builder View Post
    That's three times now.
    Well three times is a charm you know.. any more times after that is usually just a PITA though..

    Quote Originally Posted by Builder View Post
    a:link and a:visited are now the same color.
    I almost always do the same. Some times I have found the difference helpful on some sites though.
    -bruce /* somdcomputerguy */
    'If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.'

  11. #11
    on hiatus
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    Please also review my site. I don't have any idea how my website is performing. Do you guys can help me. my site is not hosted here, so I thought it reasonable to hijack this thread.
    Last edited by snowmaker; 7-25-15 at 04:26 PM.

  12. #12
    Thinkin' out loud again Builder's Avatar
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    An update

    For the last month or so of spare time I've been code-scrubbing. But I also stumbled across a color combination that really fits Scouting-type websites. So in response to "whitespace" issues, "needs more color" issues, and even more:

    http://troop53.net

    There is an issue with IE that I haven't quite figured out. For some reason which ever is longer, <main> or <nav> gets cut off at the bottom in the desktop version. Both have margins that should, and did, work in IE. Any help on that will be appreciated.

    Kevin
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...
    but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying,
    "Damn... that was fun!"

  13. #13
    target='_blank' snowmaker's Avatar
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    Lookin' good! Fixed placed (whether vertical or horizontal) nav menus are one thing that I put a lot of attention to, so much that it's usually the first comment I make to someone whom I'm building a site for. I don't use IE but I can tell you (from what I've read, and from first hand developer experience) that IE doesn't parse CSS like any other browser, even CSS that is correct and standard. Yay (not really) Microsoft proprietary-ness! If you were to look around at many CSS tutorial or how-to sites with example code, you'll see IE specific work arounds.. Yay (again, not really) Microsoft proprietary-ness! The In Memory page background image (and darker text?) is much nicer (IMO) too!
    -bruce /* somdcomputerguy */
    'If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.'

  14. #14
    Thinkin' out loud again Builder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snowmaker View Post
    The In Memory page background image (and darker text?) is much nicer (IMO) too!
    LOLOLOL!!! Didn't do a dang thing to it! It has been on my ToDo list since you mentioned it lo these many months ago. Perhaps the new page background color made things stand out better?
    [EDIT] Now that I really look at it the whites in the background image took on the gray page background color. White is the transparent color of that image. Maybe that's the reason?

    I hate IE.
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...
    but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying,
    "Damn... that was fun!"

  15. #15
    target='_blank' snowmaker's Avatar
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    Hmm. I don't remember how it appeared before, but this time it was much easier on my old eyes and I thought you did something to it. But colors (foreground, background, text-shadow, and box-shadow) do look somewhat different depending on what color is used where.
    -bruce /* somdcomputerguy */
    'If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.'

  16. #16
    Thinkin' out loud again Builder's Avatar
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    I'm totally with you on the "old eyes" part. Perhaps the white of the previous design was too, well, white. And bright. There's no text- or box-shadow on that page. Just a background-image for the <div> and bolding the text.

    Well, whatever. As long as you think it's an improvement! Even though it's not my fault!
    A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...
    but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying,
    "Damn... that was fun!"

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