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Author Topic: Anyone want to critique my website?  (Read 3450 times)
BTM
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« on: June 18, 2007, 09:12:48 PM »

Yes, there's the website I mention all the time in my signature, but this is a different website, I'm working on it for my college internship.  I'm making a website for the local chapter of Habitat For Humanity, which is a non-profit organization that helps build homes for low income families.  We see, I was in a web design class and one of the group projects was we had to design a web page (naturally).  Since one of the ladies in our group did a lot of volunteer work for HFH, she asked if we could do a site for the local chapter.  We agreed and turned in the site for a grade.

Now, several months later, I'm doing my internship with HFH, and I've take the old website, changed several things, and I'm working with them to find a good place to upload it.  Right now, the old and new site and being stored on my college homepage. 

Anyway, if you can check out the site here http://mypage.siu.edu/mallan/newhabitat/index.htm

Also, if you're curious, the old website is here: http://mypage.siu.edu/mallan/habitat/index.htm

Also, if you want to critique my other website, you can click on my sig... :)

Thanks!
« Last Edit: July 10, 2007, 03:10:56 PM by BTM » Logged

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ulthar
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« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2007, 09:23:52 PM »

Good job.   Smile

I like a nice, clean site that's easy to navigate.

I'd recommend against using the mailto tag for the contact page (spam harvesting).

It may be out of your control, but in my opinion, the Volunteer form should be a pdf or other format - NEVER MS Word.  There're a lot of reasons for this.  For one, you really cannot control how a document prints on the end-user's computer/printer with MS Word; with a pdf, you KNOW how it will print.  The prospective homeowners application is in pdf, so they obviously have the capability to make pdf's.

Good job.  I did not dislike the old site, but I do think your layout is a bit cleaner.

Finally - if you ever need help with back-end processing/programming, let me know.  That's what I do (shopping carts, etc).

Hmmmm, I might have to get you to take a look at one of our sites that is not performing well.  It could use a "designer" touch....PM me if interested.
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Ash
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« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2007, 07:05:58 AM »

Looks good.   Thumbup
It is what it is.

By the way BTM, for some reason I thought you were from England.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2007, 12:56:26 PM by Ash » Logged
Andrew
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« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2007, 05:50:05 PM »

Clean design, easy to read, and the background fits the theme.  My main suggestion would be to add a "Home" link along the top menu bar (or make the top graphic clickable to take the reader to the homepage).

You cannot get quite the same effect for the top menu bar with the mouse overs, but have you thought about changing that to CSS?  The bandwidth and disk overhead is not great on a small site, but if you get into large ones then CSS is a lifesaver.
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Andrew Borntreger
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BTM
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« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2007, 12:18:59 AM »


I'd recommend against using the mailto tag for the contact page (spam harvesting).


You know, someone else has said that, but they didn't bother to tell me anything else I should use... what do you recommend?


It may be out of your control, but in my opinion, the Volunteer form should be a pdf or other format - NEVER MS Word.  There're a lot of reasons for this.  For one, you really cannot control how a document prints on the end-user's computer/printer with MS Word; with a pdf, you KNOW how it will print.  The prospective homeowners application is in pdf, so they obviously have the capability to make pdf's.


I'll have to look into that.. cause I don't have the ability to convert docs to pdfs (only have the Reader, program you can actually convert things with costs money...) 

Hmmmm, I might have to get you to take a look at one of our sites that is not performing well.  It could use a "designer" touch....PM me if interested.

Oh cool! :)
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BTM
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« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2007, 12:20:04 AM »


By the way BTM, for some reason I thought you were from England.


Hmmm.. there's something funny to say to that, but i can't think of  anything...

Thanks for looking at the site!
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BTM
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« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2007, 12:24:31 AM »

Clean design, easy to read, and the background fits the theme.  My main suggestion would be to add a "Home" link along the top menu bar (or make the top graphic clickable to take the reader to the homepage).

You cannot get quite the same effect for the top menu bar with the mouse overs, but have you thought about changing that to CSS?  The bandwidth and disk overhead is not great on a small site, but if you get into large ones then CSS is a lifesaver.

Okay, the top graphic home is good (got a "home" link on all the bototm.)  As for the menu, I dunno... did the first rollover by making it Fireworks then importing it, but that didn't seem to work right, so I just used the menu bar function in Dreamweaver.  there's a way to do it in CSS?  Didn't know that... have to look into that.
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ulthar
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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2007, 01:36:45 AM »


You know, someone else has said that, but they didn't bother to tell me anything else I should use... what do you recommend?



It's dirt simple in php.  I have a (free) very lightweight php script on my site you can download to get the idea. 

php form mailer

PM or email me if you have any questions.  Also, there are countless others (of more or less complexity) out there in the 'Net.


Quote

I'll have to look into that.. cause I don't have the ability to convert docs to pdfs (only have the Reader, program you can actually convert things with costs money...) 



Number of options.  I assume you are using Windows.  You can get OpenOffice for Windows that exports to PDF.  But, they may be overkill for you.  There are a number (I used pdf factory) that substitute a pdf exporter for your printer.  In Word (or whatever word processor you use), you click print and select the PDF Factory as your "printer."  This generates the PDF.

PDF Factory

(note: the free version of this will put a tag on your document that says "created with PDF Factor" or some such.  tt's fairly unobtrusive, though. It's my understanding that the fee version does not do this).

Quote

 there's a way to do it in CSS?



Yes, you can do all kinds of menu tricks with CSS.    Check out www.curtainanddrapery.com for an example; there is no javascript generating those menus.  Google search for 'css menus' or "css menu tricks' and you'll find tons of sites.  :)
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Professor Hathaway:  I noticed you stopped stuttering.
Bodie:      I've been giving myself shock treatments.
Professor Hathaway: Up the voltage.

--Real Genius
BTM
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« Reply #8 on: June 22, 2007, 03:11:28 PM »


Hey, thanks for all the links and stuff man.  Like I said, I'm still REALLY new to web design and stuff and get the feeling they didn't get too far in the class I took... (heck, we didn't even cover PHP, can you believe it?)
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"Some people mature, some just get older." -Andrew Vachss
ulthar
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I AM serious, and stop calling me Shirley


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« Reply #9 on: June 22, 2007, 04:16:00 PM »


(heck, we didn't even cover PHP, can you believe it?)


That's not very surprising, actually.  PHP is not really design.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2007, 04:18:18 PM by ulthar » Logged

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Professor Hathaway:  I noticed you stopped stuttering.
Bodie:      I've been giving myself shock treatments.
Professor Hathaway: Up the voltage.

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DodgingGrunge
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« Reply #10 on: June 22, 2007, 09:04:32 PM »

Hey, thanks for all the links and stuff man.  Like I said, I'm still REALLY new to web design and stuff and get the feeling they didn't get too far in the class I took... (heck, we didn't even cover PHP, can you believe it?)


Sorry, I'm late coming to this!

There are two important things to consider when designing a website:  content and audience.

Content:
  • Your design needs to present the information in an appropriate way.
  • Since HFH is primarily text-based information, everything needs to be easily navigable and logically divided.  I think you've accomplished this.

Audience:
  • Your class should have covered (or at least touched upon) the nightmare that is cross-platform compatibility.  In short, if I look at your website, I'll see something different than you will, than Ulthar will, than your visitors will.
  • HTML is the age-old standard.  JavaScript and CSS are relatively newer and not all computers will support these.  Since HFH is a charitable organization aimed at helping the under-funded, you should be very conservative in the code you use.  Someone in need of a house will also likely be in need of a real computer.  Watch the size of your pages, the images you use, etc.
  • As Ulthar suggested, DO NOT use the proprietary .doc format.  Convert it to PDF, or if you can't, let me know and I'll convert it for you.  Microsoft Office costs hundreds of dollars, and you cannot assume prospective clients will have access to it.  Office isn't even available for Linux.  And as Ulthar suggested, OpenOffice is a free alternative to MS Office, but at 100MB, it might be too big for some people to download or install.
  • It is very common for the less technically-inclined to send pages to a printer, rather than reading them online.  I'd suggest you remove the wood-grain background.  Also, for the visually-strained, that background does make your text harder to read.

I've been involved in web design and backend scripting for a decade now.  If you have any questions or need any help, PM me.
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ulthar
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« Reply #11 on: June 23, 2007, 08:27:30 AM »

Couple of comments:


Your class should have covered (or at least touched upon) the nightmare that is cross-platform compatibility.  In short, if I look at your website, I'll see something different than you will, than Ulthar will, than your visitors will.[



Should not be if he used W3C compliant code and his users use a, erm, W3C compliant browser.  Eh, hum.   Wink

Quote

HTML is the age-old standard.  JavaScript and CSS are relatively newer and not all computers will support these.  Since HFH is a charitable organization aimed at helping the under-funded, you should be very conservative in the code you use.  Someone in need of a house will also likely be in need of a real computer.  Watch the size of your pages, the images you use, etc.



Nit-pick.  HTML is not a 'standard,' it's a language.  There are many 'versions' of HTML; in fact, several 'standard' versions.  Javascript and CSS (at least CSS 1) have been out sufficiently long enough that both should be ubiquitous at this point.   You'd have to go back to IE 4 or so to miss basic compatibility, and ALL the competitive browsers are compatible.

As a side point, I doubt very seriously someone in need of a house is browsing the web for HFH locations.  My bet is that this site's target audience is geared more toward attracting volunteers and maybe possible donations.  All that said, I would not be too concerned about using CSS, IF you follow a few basic rules to help braindead IE play along.  The point is, NEVER, EVER, EVER design for IE - design for a real browser and pull IE along by the boostraps where you have to.

And ALWAYS test your pages for W3C compliance.  Even if you don't care about compliance, running the test can help you find things that are wrong with your code.  You can always pick and choose which fixes you don't want to make, but you may find some things that need fixing even if you don't want compliance.  Finally, compliant pages tend to play better with the search engines; at least that has been my experience.

Quote

  • As Ulthar suggested, DO NOT use the proprietary .doc format.  Convert it to PDF, or if you can't, let me know and I'll convert it for you.  Microsoft Office costs hundreds of dollars, and you cannot assume prospective clients will have access to it.  Office isn't even available for Linux.  And as Ulthar suggested, OpenOffice is a free alternative to MS Office, but at 100MB, it might be too big for some people to download or install.



Point of clarification: I meant for HIM to d/l OpenOffice to export the docs as PDF, not to ask site users to d/l and install OpenOffice to read .doc files.   Smile

Quote

It is very common for the less technically-inclined to send pages to a printer, rather than reading them online.  I'd suggest you remove the wood-grain background.  Also, for the visually-strained, that background does make your text harder to read.



Ah, CSS can handle this very nicely.  You can have separate page "formats" in your CSS.  In fact, that is one of the VERY cool things about CSS.  Simply have a normal page and a printed page without backgrounds (and buttons, etc).  You can do this seamlessly to the user, too, if you want.  I think you could even do something similar for the visually impaired.  There is no need to cripple the site's design and layout for the general user.  That's my $0.02 anyway.   Smile
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------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Professor Hathaway:  I noticed you stopped stuttering.
Bodie:      I've been giving myself shock treatments.
Professor Hathaway: Up the voltage.

--Real Genius
BTM
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Posts: 2866



« Reply #12 on: June 24, 2007, 05:54:17 PM »


Here's a question to those who were pushing Firefox over IE... can anyone explain how Firefox tends to add extra spaces into tables that IE doesn't?  Look at it in IE and it looks okay, Firefox though, there's a bunch of extra spaces that throw my format out of wack...

Thanks
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ulthar
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« Reply #13 on: June 24, 2007, 06:16:11 PM »

Are you sure your html is correct?  No open tags anywhere?

IE is a "stupid" browser, and as such, does not handle a lot of mistakes correctly.  I've never seen Firefox mistreat tables when everything was hunky-dory, though I HAVE seen wierd results when there was errors (maybe not in the table part of the code).

Does this help?
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------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Professor Hathaway:  I noticed you stopped stuttering.
Bodie:      I've been giving myself shock treatments.
Professor Hathaway: Up the voltage.

--Real Genius
BTM
Frightening Fanatic of Horrible Cinema
****

Karma: 351
Posts: 2866



« Reply #14 on: June 24, 2007, 07:23:07 PM »


I don't know.,. I can look at the code again but, the thing of it for instance, the first page
http://mypage.siu.edu/mallan/newhabitat/index.htm

On both Dreamweaver (which is what I mainly use) and IE there is no space between "Welcome to Habitat For Humanity" and "Greater Marion Area Homepage"

Nor are there spaces between the three lines that compose the address.  On Firefox, it looks like I was a blank line in between each of them, which I don't. 

I managed to fix this by putting all the words in the same table cell and then doing "control enter" where I want the line breaks, but I don't understand why it's doing this in the first place.  Plus, I can't put EVERYTHING I want into one single cell, I need the table formatting for other things.

You go past "From here, you'll get an overview of what the Marion affiliate of Habitat for Humanity entails. " and you can see it even more clear when you compare IE to Firefox, more space between each of the lines in the table. 

Not really sure, but it bugs me alot... :(
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