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Please criticise my site!

Mike2176 14 2
3 Apr 2007 2:58PM
Hi people,

I'm a student and for part of my coursework I've decided to make a website. For the next part of my project, i need people to critique the site, so i can evaluate it, including other people's advice / opinions. It's still evolving at the moment and there's still plenty to do, but I'd be very interested to hear what other Photographers think of the site as it was when i first published it.

If you could spare a few moments to answer a few questions I'd really appreciate it! Please feel free to say anything you like, i dont get offended! Be harsh!

- What are your first impressions of the design and layout of the site?

- Do you think the site's identity ('Neon Playground') is memorable?

- Do you think the submission procedure is easily understandable? (follow the 'submit' link)

- What would you change?

Thanks people, really appreciate it. Mike


(please post comments on this thread, as opposed to using the 'contact' link on the site)
PatrickSmith 16 1.2k 2 United States
3 Apr 2007 3:12PM
Hi Mike, I only have a few minutes so here it is:

- What are your first impressions of the design and layout of the site?

The flash intro, while looking very artistic, is a little 'in your face' and when I clicked on it to enter, nothing happened. I can click twice really fast and get in, but it is not obvious what to do. The layout and menus look good, but when I try to go back to the main menu, I often get kicked all the way back to the intro.

Overall though, it has a good edge to it once some kinks are worked out.

- Do you think the site's identity ('Neon Playground') is memorable?

I'm still not sure what it means. Does it mean that it is a site for glamour/night club/city life photography? If so, then it is fine. But if you want a wider range of photographers to join in, then you will need a name that has a broader appeal.

- Do you think the submission procedure is easily understandable? (follow the 'submit' link)

Yes, that is fine.

- What would you change?

Lose the flash intro!

I've been writing computer software for years, and wrote a photo website of my own in PHP and SQL from scratch. People want it simple or they will leave. This is a fairly simple site to use, but don't make it to flashy (no pun intended) or complex!

Good luck,

chrisrudland 17 156 United Kingdom
3 Apr 2007 4:06PM
Hi Mike,

None of this is meant to be hurtful, just honest. Although I do get a feeling the site is aimed at the young, not an old fa~t like me I feel it needs much more work. And importantly less is more..

What are your first impressions of the design and layout of the site?

Horrible, especially navigation which leads you into pages with no way back to home page, also the flash intro is forgettable and not working correctly. If you only get about 5-10 seconds of a visitors attention, they will move on.

- Do you think the site's identity ('Neon Playground') is memorable?

No, not really because I am not sure what it means

- Do you think the submission procedure is easily understandable? (follow the 'submit' link)

I found the font in your text very distracting in this section so I never tried to read it.

- What would you change?

Format the whole site with one font, clean and simple
Make your navigation work throughout the whole site
Lose the flash intro or put a subtle one up that works

Neon Website

I like Patrick also develop solutions but use .net & SQL but would not introduce anything fancy into my website unless it was really essential. Keep it simple.

Mike2176 14 2
3 Apr 2007 5:13PM
thankyou very much for the feedback, its much appreciated.

This is the first site I've made, and i of course realise there is a lot more to learn! Getting other peoples views really helps, as i found it becomes hard to step back and look at what i'd done objectively after staring at it for so long! You kinda find yourself missing the simplest of issues.

I appreciate your comments and honesty Patrick and Chris, and have noted all you've said. I found it hard to juggle navigation elements while trying to keep the design of the site as clean as possible, although i think i lost my thread towards the deadline. I now have the opportunity to ammend the site as necessary before re-submitting it in a couple of weeks, so you've given me plenty to think about. Which was exactly what i was after!

Thanks again,

Regards, Mike
David_c 15 244 United Kingdom
3 Apr 2007 6:11PM
Hi Mike ,
Havent got much time...
went to the link that chrisrudland posted and your
neon stops flashing after a while , has the bulb gone?

Only joking , but it wouldnt let me "get in" if you see what i mean, after the neon goes out it wouldnt go to your site however much i clicked , i'm using firefox if that makes any difference.
Interesting site , well done

ps just tried it again , if you click away from the neon
then your little hand symbol doesnt come back , try it.
Hugeknot 16 1.2k 2 Iceland
3 Apr 2007 6:34PM
At last, I manage to get into the site - after about 7 attempts.
I think you have some exciting ideas going on, very arty and off the wall. I hope it grows for you.

The submission seems straight forward, but wouldn't it be good to have an electronic submission - maybe not for the complete works, but allowing small file uploads for you to preview and make contact if it fits the bill. This is an age where submitting a photograph electronically is very quick and simple, you might have to sift through a lot of junk, but if you limit the size of the uploads you shouldn't have a problem.

Having said that, some of the art companies that I submit to expressly require postal submisions and maybe this restricts submissions from people who are not so serious about their work.

I agree about the comments on the flash intro, this will not only deter visitors, but also could affect your search engine standings. You could achieve the same thing with php, css or similar. Check out cssplay for some good methods.

Good luck with this project, I am sure that if you get it right, you will have much success wih it.
mjsayles 15 1.0k
3 Apr 2007 7:45PM

Quote:it wouldnt let me "get in" if you see what i mean, after the neon goes out it wouldnt go to your site however much i clicked , i'm using firefox if that makes any difference

Ditto. Eventually I got in by refreshing, and clicking all over the place. Eventually I managed to get in (but I've no idea how).

Sorry, but not a very good first impression :-(

Once inside, the link back to the main menu is not obvious - that little arrow to the left of the box is just going to be missed by so many people - so they'll click the back button on their browser, and get taken back to the introduction screen. That's going to annoy a lot of visitors - they'll leave, and won't come back. You could leave the arrow icon thing, but I'd also add a basic 'back' or 'main menu' link.

The images in the feature gallery also seem to be displayed very small - they were about credit card sized, which is just far too small for visual art.

You've clearly got talent for designing, but I just think there are some issues that need ironing out.
randomrubble 16 3.0k 12 United Kingdom
3 Apr 2007 7:56PM
Since I have to click on NEON to get in from the splash page, I badly want it to take me back to the homepage once I'm in the site. Or at least to do something
nickp 16 491 Scotland
3 Apr 2007 9:22PM
OK, I've sussed how to get past the flashing neon after several attempts - you just have to wait for it to stop flashing, but don't click on the "playground" even though the pointer indicates you can, only click on the "neon".

So now I have a menu to choose from. Click on "Que?" out of idle curiosity (I would really prefer to know that it really meant "About Us" but then ....). Now how do I get back to the menu? Click on back button. Now I'm back to the damned flashing thing again and I have to wait for it to stop flashing to get back into the site.... Oh, hang on, I've just found that arrow drawing itself on the left of the page, I wonder what that does? Oh so that's the back button....

This is all too much like hard work, and you haven't sold me on staying around long enough to work it all out..

After all that, Neon Payground as a name doesn't do anything for me.

Didn't get as far as the Submission bit.

What would I change? Well, first I'd read Don't make me Think by Steve Krug then I would implement some of the things he recommends - simple predictable navigation, use standard terms for standard web page components, don't punish visitors for making a mistake by making them wait for the flashing to stop before letting them do something else, correct the typos and grammatical errors ....

Edit: I'd also stop it crashing IE7! Lose the flash!
LAF 18 1.7k
4 Apr 2007 1:02AM
The graphics really fall apart on my screen, look like mosaics. Have to drag my browser down into a small window to get them to look right. If you're gonna make all the images scale, it might be worth using higher resolution files.

Also, the click to enter system on the front page is very hit and miss. No problems with the flash, though. What version is it backward compatable to?

digicammad 18 22.0k 40 United Kingdom
4 Apr 2007 8:41AM
Seems I'm in the minority, I really like the site although there are a few things which need sorting out.

I normally hate splash screens but yours appeals to me and if you can fine tune it I think it will work well. You need to try to find a way to activate the link from the start, not just once the neon stops flashing. Also, did you realise it is time limited after the flashing stops? If the viewer hasn't clicked within about 3-4 seconds the link deactivates and you have to refresh the page to get it to work again.

Once in the site I think the grungy text works well. Although it is quite large it is saved from being too 'in your face' by being grey not black.

I didn't have any trouble finding the link back to the home page (the animated arrow sort of gave it away) but perhaps it would be an idea to also make the Neon sign a link to home.

The big problem for me is that you are using frames. This is almost guaranteed to kill your site as far as search engines are concerned and also leaves you with the problem of people getting to your site via links and being left without the proper frame structure. I would strongly recommend you teach yourself some CSS and rework your site without the frames. Of course if this is only coursework and aesthetics are the main aim then it doesn't matter.

As to the important bit - the gallery - it works well. I would perhaps add a speed control for the slideshow, the shots were changing before I had finished looking at them.

To summarise, I think you have managed to develop something which is very viewable but stands out from the crowd and looks like it has been put together by creative mind(s).

Good luck with the project, it's a good start.

jondf 15 2.8k
4 Apr 2007 9:37AM
It's got potential. I like the basic font style on a white background for a menu. It creates the impression of simplicity although I'd like access to the menu on subsequent pages. There's some nice image angling which adds interest. Keep to this style and I think you'll have an attractive website.

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