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Thread: Help test my new website

  1. #1
    Ranger 9
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    Help test my new website

    I decided to license some code to spiff up the portfolio part of my website and have just finished populating a test version with a small selection of sample content.

    Anybody want to go hammer on it a bit and let me know if anything breaks?

    This version is very Flash-intensive, so I'd be interested to hear what happens with various browsers; all I've got for testing are Safari 4.01 and Firefox 3.5 for Mac.

    Here's the URL: http://ranger9.net/pf/

    Note: It auto-plays a startup portfolio, but the idea is that people will select what they want from the drop-down menu on the left. I'm not sure the drop-down is conspicuous enough, so thought I'd better mention it...

  2. #2
    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Help test my new website

    Some great work which I will definitely want to go back and look at more carefully. But since you asked for feedback on the site, here are a few very quick first impressions.

    1. The masthead/header bar/identity graphic (whatever you want to call it) seems at odds with the content. The space module and bright red stripe look more comic bookish than professional.

    2. The drop down gallery menu is indeed too hard to notice. I can understand why you might not want anything to interfere with the image display area, but if you hadn't mentioned, I might have missed it. Also, it took me several tries to switch between different groupings since some of the drop downs seem to be categories with the images buried beneath them by one level. I kept clicking the first drop down and nothing was happening.

    3. The music is always a problem for me personally. It's late at night and the sudden burst of sound from my speakers is jarring. That's just me.

    4. The blog link wouldn't load for me.

    Other than those few things, the images and flash modules load quickly and smoothly. Again, very nice images and all of this is presented strictly in the spirit of constructive feedback. Your work is quite strong—maybe stronger than the presentation at this point.

    Best,
    Tim

  3. #3
    Ranger 9
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    Re: Help test my new website

    Yeah, I don't know what to do about that header bar. I felt like it ought to match the ones on the blog, but it's a little "noisy" for this environment.

    Speaking of which I don't know why the blog didn't load for you. What browser were you using?

  4. #4
    nei1
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    Re: Help test my new website

    Enjoyed the experience,refreshing.Everything worked well with avant browser.......Neil.

  5. #5
    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Help test my new website

    I just tried the blog link again and it worked this time, albeit a bit slow to get there. Safari, most recent version.

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    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
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    Re: Help test my new website

    Tried IE8 on Vista x64, looks good.

    Update: Actually, on a small screen (768 or less in height) the slideshow buttons might overlap the text. Try resizing the browser window to smaller and you'll see. For some window sizes the image overlaps the header, while appearing under the menu button.

    In general, I agree with Tim's feedback. The color scheme was somehow unexpected, considering the high quality of the image content. That's of course subjective. If it was me I would pick a layout/color palette that took little away from the images, then make the blog layout match the gallery instead of the other way.
    Last edited by Lars; 4th July 2009 at 05:27.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  7. #7
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    Re: Help test my new website

    Appears to work OK on Opera 9.64 on XP...

  8. #8
    Senior Member kweide's Avatar
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    Re: Help test my new website

    No prob with Firefox 3.0.11
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  9. #9
    Super Duper
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    Re: Help test my new website

    Had a really fast visit on Vista 64 IE7. All buttons appear to work as intended. I'll come back again when I have more time but general first impression is very good.

    Don
    Don Libby
    Iron Creek Photography
    Blog
    Tucson AZ

  10. #10
    Ranger 9
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    Re: Help test my new website

    Thanks to all the "beta testers"! It looks for most people as if the software side is pretty solid, barring a few expectable glitches involving resizing the content for different window sizes and so forth.

    In case it helps anybody else who's revising a website, I'll briefly run through my thought processes:

    -- I understand the viewpoint of the people who felt the header design and color scheme were too "cartoony." At the same time, since I'm not trying to use this site to sell photos or promote myself professionally (it's strictly an exercise in gratifying my vanity!) I resisted the idea of being TOO conventional. This is always a balancing act. For example, I love the look of this site... for them... but it would be too stylized for me. On the other hand, I don't need to be as generically "dignified" as a typical wedding photography site -- I can afford to be a bit quirky.

    My compromise solution was to cut the header height back to 60 pixels (vs. 120) and simplify its graphics. I'm still keeping my red line (hey, if a red line is good for Nikon, it's good for me!) and the image of the Ranger 9 spacecraft, which is there because it has metaphorical significance for me. But the shorter bar makes them less overpowering, and gives me more content height as well. I also went to a lighter background for the main "stage" area to make the thing look less somber.

    -- I fixed the drop-down main menu so it's visible, rather than hidden, when the site first loads. That way I won't have to worry about people not realizing there IS a menu! This also lets me use the gallery as a "landing page" for people who actually are looking for the blog. (Which reminds me: I'm holding a party for all my regular blog readers in the phone booth across the street! I hope both of you can come!) The menu still hides if you mouse over it and away. Of course, some people may never do that and then ask why the menu overlaps the photos. But you can't please everybody!

    -- Visibility is also a trade-off for the navigation buttons below the photos. I realize they're going to collide with the photos at some screen sizes, and an option would be to have them stay hidden unless moused over. But then users might never realize there were buttons, which would mean they wouldn't know there's a way to stop the slideshow, view thumbnails, etc. So, I decided to leave the buttons continuously visible and just make them smaller.

    -- I turned off auto-play for the music; now you have to click the little "Audio" widget to start it. I had forgotten that some people keep their audio turned 'way up, and having music start unexpectedly is legitimately annoying.

    -- Speaking of the blog, I've noticed that it loads really slowly no matter how you get to it, even via a direct URL. I'm not sure whether this is because my template is too complicated, or if my host is just slow at serving Wordpress pages; I kinda suspect the latter, but haven't thought of anything tangible to do about it. If I had a David Hobby-esque volume of blog traffic, I suppose I'd need to worry about this... but I don't, so I don't. (This may be why Hobby uses a blog-optimized hosting service.)


    Anyway, courtesy of everyone's reports, I think I can conclude that most of the software stuff is working reasonably well, at least with modern browsers, and the design has at least reached the "de gustibus non disputandum est" stage, so I'm going to start populating it with content and see what happens!

    Thanks again to all who helped. The final-ish version of the makeover is here.

  11. #11
    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Help test my new website

    I am no webdesigner, hence have very little opinion on the ins and outs, but one thing that came to mind is your audio. May be this is the culprit for loading time? Could be that the file you chose is quite big eventually.

    Further, I would suggest to have a clear on/off button, people not knowing this might get lost there, because they have to click exactly into the volume bar and drag it right to hear music if I did not get that wrong.

    Loosk lik ethe site is quite a CPU Hog at a glance, then again, might just be here the case.

    Love the shot of the ballerina at the training bar.

  12. #12
    Ranger 9
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    Re: Help test my new website

    Quote Originally Posted by Georg Baumann View Post
    I am no webdesigner, hence have very little opinion on the ins and outs, but one thing that came to mind is your audio. May be this is the culprit for loading time?
    Oddly enough, the slow loader seems to be the blog (which doesn't have audio) rather than the gallery (which does.)

    Good point about having a more visible switch for the audio; will have to look into that. One of the things that makes this kind of customization tricky is that it can be hard to find the piece of the stylesheet that controls the appearance of one particular element such as this. Still, I'll have to have a poke-around and see what I can find.

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