I spend a lot of time online and come across many sites (I saw one just this morning that had an heinous none scrolling background image that made the text unreadable in places), and I narrowed down 3 to do my report on.
I adore this site. Whenever there’s a site redesign I’m usually very sceptical, and take a while to get used to this. This however is wonderful. Appearance wise, it’s… very fitting to the show. I don’t know how to describe it. But boy, it’s easy to find you’re way around, with possible the best roll-down menus I’ve seen on a site (I usually find them annoying, but this is done so well it’s not a bother). Obviously, the content’s relevant seeing as it’s all Doctor Who related – well, most of it, some is news of appearances by the actors – and it’s all organised by episode, then further organised into media type. Storyboards, behind-the scenes stuff, you name it. And thanks to the BBC iPlayer gone are the days where you had to go into a separate window and deal with the pain that was RealPlayer or WMP and it’s constant buffering – it’s all in site. Of course, it’s great when you’re watching short clips, but attempting to watch a Doctor Who Confidential gets taxing after the first 3 refreshes because the buffering stalled thanks to everyone and their dog using it on their lunch breaks. The appearance reflects the series well, as I said earlier. Sci-fi and old-fashioned patterned background going perfectly together in a way you wouldn’t think (in case I’ve made myself unclear again, the sci-fi elements are the menu designs and the info boxes). Suits the philosophy of the series well if you ask me (as you can guess, I’m trying to fudge my way through the last two points on the brief). Anyway, the interactive parts are absolutely brilliant. They don’t throw you when you’re looking for something, they’re as easy to use as using the top menus in an application (with the added bonus of not closing when you roll your mouse off by accident) and I have always found exactly what I was looking for. Only downside is linking to individual parts is a little tricky due to the junk-filled urls (my term for urls with the numbers and question marks in them).
I can’t give you a link yet since this site isn’t live, but the admin has been posting screencasts showing some of the interactive features for the site (mostly for the staff, and for adding films to the directory). And I happen to know him (online anyway), so I have a bit of insight into this place. Since the site was essentially chosen by us on the forum, the look is inkeeping with who we are and out hobby. The navigation will be easy to use to find your way around, and it has a built in announcement system so important messages can be sent to the whole community without anyone needing to go into the forum. But easily the best bits are the features I mentioned earlier, which you can see in action here and here. He might kill me over possibly using up a chunk of the bandwidth with this, but thankfully there’s the Atlantic between us. What I love most is, like WordPress, it’s just so easy and straight forward (that is not me advertising WordPress btw). I actually thought he might have used till I remembered that he’s one of our best coders in the community.
I’ll come right out and say it. I absolutely hate this layout. Honestly, this thing’s more cluttered than my room. It’s far too busy and the only thing you’re guarenteed to find is the search bar, which is the only part I use. The old layout wasn’t the most visually pleasing in the world, but at least I could find my way around it if I wanted too. This one, I don’t know where to begin. It’s not the only site that’s like this either – Comet, Apple Store, most online shopping sites use the same basic layout. It’s a supermarket mentality – make it as confusing to find what you want as possible in the hopes that people will find new things they want to buy, and in turn make more money. Which as a design choice makes sense considering Amazon essentially is a virtual hypermarket. Interactive wise, links work when clicked, you can narrow your search by category (as it stands, the search page is easier to find your way around than the homepage. Which doesn’t strike me as good web design – the idea is that visitors can navigate around a site from the word go, not having to flounder around until you find a page that makes reasonable sense). I know you have to display what you’re selling, but layouts like this are really off-putting and make you not want to bother going further.
So, a little short, but that’s my report. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and get Flash to behave.