Discussion in 'Photo.net Site Help' started by mark lucas, Jun 18, 2005.

  1. The Homepage is looking pretty poor. If I were surfing and happened
    across Photo.net, I'd probably surf on by right now.

    The POW thumbnail is appalling and in the modern age of the
    internet, the homepage looks like something written in BASIC on an
    old home computer.

    Before anyone asks, no, I can't do better.
  2. I agree with you. It has only been tweaked a little now and then for about five years. You can see what it looked like 5 years ago by going to the Internet Archive. Not all that different than now.

    My site design skills were good enough to redo the standard page header/pull-down-menus last month. These changes seem to have been fairly well-received. Most people seem to think they are clean and elegant at least, albeit perhaps a bit boring. But I find the prospect of redesigning the site a bit daunting, especially as there is inevitably a large "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" contingent which will not hesitate to criticize any change, never mind a major one.

    Despite this, I would love to hire a graphics professional who specializes in web site design to redesign the site, but I don't know if we can afford it.
  3. Redesigning the site would be an incredibly difficult and complex task I think. Links cannot be broken at this point, which makes the task 10x harder. It's not necessary either since the internal pages (most of them anyway) look pretty good.

    However redesigning the Home Page is pretty easy since it's essentially just a bunch of links, and it's the most visible page on the site, so it would give the most bang for the buck.

    You could get a free redesign by doing what the photo contests do. Have a contest to redesign the front page. Pick the best one - better yet have a small committee to vote on which design they like the best. You could have a non-binding popular vote too. The winner gets a free subscription to photo.net and a page design credit.

    The danger of graphic designers is that they are graphic designers, and they love something that looks great. However looking great and usability are different issues. There are a number of sites with Home Pages that work great even if they look awkward. Google and Yahoo for example. Google couldn't be less of a "graphic design" and the Yahoo home page is no artistic masterpiece either, but both very very well for their respective audience. Amazon.com has a long history of getting site design right. Their home page wins no graphic design awards but is the result of years of experimentation to determin what actually works in terms of their bottom line.

    There are many examples of home pages that look nice, but just don't work well at their intended task - attracting people and telling them about and directing them to the areas of the site they want to visit (and you want them to visit). Just do a search on "websites that suck" to find examples. Here's one: http://www.frysteel.com/homepage.html Whoever was responsible for that one should be shot. Here's another one http://www.archis.org/interface.php Looks great but it's unusable.

    Looking good and working well do not correlate, but they are not exclusive either.

    Just to pick three "instant" Home page problems: (1) The picasso quote is large, prominant, above the fold, but serves no navigational purpose. (2) There's a large section below the fold inking to EZ-shop, but EZ-shop is woefully out of date. The most recent Canon DSLR listed is the EOS D30! (3) There's an even bigger box (almost the biggest box on the page) leading to book reviews, but there are essentially no real book reviews - the links just go to the book on Amazon. I'd wonder whether the income from these links generates enough income to merit them taking up 20% of the prime real estate on the home page. Maybe they do, but if not they're hogging valuable space.
  4. I like it.
  5. I guess the advertisement permanently replaces Featured Portfolio for revenue purpose, correct? Boy, Mark is right about the Homepage being not captivating for casual passerby. I think regular members don't usually go there and therefore not realize how it looks like lately.
  6. I think it looks fine; why change it? Surely there is no need, and better places to put our limited resources. In any case, if it is to be changed, let me enter a vote here against any flash code anywhere in photo.net. Flash stuff takes too long to load and delivers no information except that someone knows how (but not when) to do it!
  7. The home page is the single most important page on a site. It should represent the site, let readers know what the site is all about and direct them to the areas of interest - particularly areas where you'd really like them to go.

    The current home page ia based on a 10 year old legacy. It's traditional (for photo.net) but doesn't really do what a home page should do. Drop a total newbie into it and see how well they understand what's on there. There's stuff that's there that doesn't need to be there and stuff that needs to be there that isn't there. I think it works well enough for experienced users, but I don't know that it grabs and keeps "passing traffic". It's generally true that people too close to and too familar with a site don't make good judges. That's actually one reason to hire an outside consultant when testing or redesigning a website.

    I've done quite a bit of work on page design over the last few years. My own site is a graphic designer's nightmare, but it's very effecting in routing users to the parts of the site I want to route then to. It still has a long way to go though. I think home page design, redesign and optimization never stops. The page should evolve with the site.

    It's even possible to have two alternate home page designs and route traffic at random to one or the other. Then by an analysis of traffic patterns you can see where visitors go and whether they're going where you want them to! Then pick the one that performs best.

    Surfers are unpredicatable beasts. You'd think they'd read the page, make a decision as to what they wanted to see, look for the appropriate link and click it. In fact they don't. Often they click on the first thing that looks clickable. If it doesn't take them somewhere interesting, they back up and click on the next thing that looks clickable!
  8. Voting! Didn't we do that one before?
  9. I like the "un-slick" look, keeps the riff-raff away!
  10. I vote to keep the Picasso quote and to display it prominently. If Picasso had had Photoshop in its later incarnations available, I doubt he woulc have made that geste.

    On more serious matters, one thing the whole site sorely lacks is good navigation aids.

    A person can be a member of Photo.net for a long, long time and never understand how the various parts of the site relate to one another.

    The new home page design helps somewhat and it surely is more crisp and clear; it's a good first step.

    But this site needs a navigation aid -- something that intuitively will allow any surfer to be able to understand by looking, how the site's put together, probably through an information tree.

    Whether or not it's on the home page, one of the worst part of the site for me as a new member was understanding the Top Rated Photo Engine. I understand from member postings that there are many parts of the TRP engine that many members still don't understand or frequent now because they 'just don't get' various parts of the TRP functions. Count me in on that.

    The TRP engine deserves a complete, step-by-step user analysis with examples and illustrations with specific explanations and explications about various 'rules' that now are not revealed (except piecemeal through the site feedback forum -- or maybe elsewhere, but I don't know where to look.)

    For instance, what newcomer is going to learn how to understand photo 'averages' in an intuitive way, and where can that newcomer 'click' on a link on each TRP page to link for a complete explanation of the engine's mysteries with illustrated examples.

    I think lack of navigational aids on the home page and lack of explanations of how to use the TRP engine drives away a lot of potential newcomers who might want to stay and become useful and contributing members (and who might want to buy a lot of cameras and lenses from the sponsors).

    And there are a lot of little 'rules' that are never fully explicated, like the 'rule' that there must be '20 comments' before a photo is eligible for the 'year's top comments list' if I understand one of Brian's previous postings, but I never, ever saw posted outside of an answer to a site feedback forum question. There seem to be a lot of little gatekeeping 'rules' that are 'ad hoc' that should be clearly spelled out, I think and placed clearly in something more than just a FAQ.

    FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) are nice and very helpful at a basic level, but the TRP engine is a fairly sophisticated device, but some of its functions are far from intuitive, and each one could use an explanatory paragraph and an illustration accessible via a link from EACH page of the TRP.

    If those two things were done, I think Photo.net would be a vastly richer site, and it would be reflected in a greater increase in membership and a greater retention rate for members (as well as increased sales for sponsors).

    I base this on my experience as a new member last year in 'getting acquainted' with this site, but having no one to 'guide me' through the site except the site's navigation aids, which I found woefully lacking.

    John (Crosley)
  11. The Nokia ad looks really out of place. Maybe we could chip in a few bucks to hire a designer. Is PayPal suitable for micropayments?
  12. This site has some interesting designs http://www.csszengarden.com/ if you are looking for
    inspiration. Good resource for CSS stuff as well.
  13. As long as the TRP ok, the web design is not a big issue. Revenue and prevent mate rating are more important.
  14. Yongbo - you're wrong. You're looking at things from a present member's viewpoint.

    I'm looking at the bigger picture - namely, browsers who may happen upon the site. As things are, the homepage does nothing to entice somebody to browse further.

    An example from the homepage :

    "The Latest Must Have - Ansel Adams at 100". That book was released four years ago!
  15. Hi Mark, if you are looking at the biggest picture, technically, no photo site has better architecture than PN. Apple didn't change the look for iPod, that?s called style. I just bought a book, The C Programming Language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie, released when I was 7. Btw, I read the book 10 years ago (many times).

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