Website Critique

11 May 2008 - 5:06pm
6 years ago
4 replies
499 reads
mcaskey
2008

Hi everyone!

I recently completed some redesign work for this website and would love
to get some feedback from the IxD community: sonlight.com

Any input/suggestions/advice I can get will be appreciated.

Thanks!

Mike Caskey
Denver Colorado

P.S. One item I'm really looking for input on is the on-screen
login/registration and shopping cart summary. I have read (and am
beginning to agree with) that a login form and the like does not need to
be persistant, but rather, only presented when needed.

Also, I'm not sure the dropdown menu is what I really want. The plan
was to eventually have a multiple-column menu, similar to what you might
see on target.com, but now I'm not 100% convinced that a dropdown is
even the way to go.

Comments

11 May 2008 - 6:05pm
gabefriedman
2007

Mike -

First off, nice job It's welcoming, and the purpose of the site is
clear. Now for some critique!

* Color is such a subjective thing, but to my eye there's a lot of
color going on; gold background, red logo and header border, blue,
then main panels - green, tan, blue -which aren't carried through
the the panel landing pages. I think a simpler palette would sever
you better.

* sign in/get your sign in. Conventionally, one either "signs in"
or "creates account". "get your sign in" is a little confusing,
especially since the button reads "register free". Simplifying the
language, and maybe combining both functions into a single box (sign
in/create account) would save space and cut down on visual clutter.

* the fourth column (containing the catalog offer and the "how to
teach one or more children" block) peters out quickly, leaving a
blank. This content could probably be integrated into either then
right column, or added to the three main columns, for a better page
balance.

* the top main nav seems an afterthought; small, italic type, not
anchored to anything. It could have more prominence by either making
them tabs, or giveing them some kind of container - background color,
borders, etc... As it is, they seem lost ion the wide grey expanse of
the header.

* this is a minor pet peeve of mine: aligning the green "awards",
"guarantee" and "more" buttons is preferable to allowing the
content to determine where the buttons fall.

* the design breaks down a bit on the second level; after the
graphic-heavy home page with the abundant color and nice panel
treatment, the landing pages (I looked at "subjects" and "about
sonlilght" are comparatively plain.

*on the 2nd-level pages (eg, about sonlight > new to home schooling),
the 4-column layout seems strange; the left nav column makes sense,
the right sign in/cart column makes sense, but the middle two don't.
a simple 1-column (center space) layout with some simple lines
separating the questions/links would be easier to scan. And there are
some unexplained vertical gaps (on mac/firefox) at least between some
of the boxes - not sure if these are so certain content lines up, or a
coding flaw.

That's enough from me; i'm sure others will have more opinions. I
love the product selector (ajax?) on the "new to sonlight" page!

Gabe Friedman
www.gabefriedman.com

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Posted from the new ixda.org
http://www.ixda.org/discuss?post=28939

11 May 2008 - 9:19pm
SemanticWill
2007

Mike,

I saw a lot of good things, and don't really have time for a heuristic
evalaution, but one recommendation is this:
Tio navigation > Homeschool Curriculum >> and then a bunch of
sub-categories. Have you tested these with users? To me, the labels made no
sense. Are these common terms like Sonlight P3/4 ?? Would someone who knows
nothing about homeschooling (or education), but is interested in it - know
what this means? I honestly didn't.
The more I think about it - some of the things I noticed really aren't IxD
issues, but IA issues. If you could get some existing and potential users,
do some user research - maybe some cart sorting, labeling exercises and
testing around the navigation structure.

Just some ideas.

Good luck.

On Sun, May 11, 2008 at 6:06 PM, Mike Caskey <mike at casadev.com> wrote:

> Hi everyone!
>
> I recently completed some redesign work for this website and would love to
> get some feedback from the IxD community: sonlight.com
>
> Any input/suggestions/advice I can get will be appreciated.
>
> Thanks!
>
> Mike Caskey
> Denver Colorado
>
> P.S. One item I'm really looking for input on is the on-screen
> login/registration and shopping cart summary. I have read (and am beginning
> to agree with) that a login form and the like does not need to be
> persistant, but rather, only presented when needed.
>
> Also, I'm not sure the dropdown menu is what I really want. The plan was
> to eventually have a multiple-column menu, similar to what you might see on
> target.com, but now I'm not 100% convinced that a dropdown is even the way
> to go.
>
>

12 May 2008 - 3:28pm
Oleh Kovalchuke
2006

Hi Mike,

A few additional comments to the very good suggestions by others.

Visual/semantic design:
It's a good idea to limit font treatments (weight, face, size, color) to
3-4 per page/site. I have counted 11 on this page:
https://www.sonlight.com/new-to-sonlight.html. Use the treatment as a
consistent semantic clue throughout the site.

To answer your specific questions:

Three submenues in the dropdown navigation are three too many. You are
right, Target is doing it better.

At View Cart (https://www.sonlight.com/SCOPS/IAFDispatcher) you have these
instructions:

*"You are currently not signed in.* Sign
in<https://www.sonlight.com/SCOPS/index.html?goto=showLogon>to ensure
that your items are saved and will be in your cart the next time
you visit. Otherwise, this cart will be emptied when you leave the site."

over glowing red background.
That's a bit harsh (see Amazon, for good message example).

And:

"While entering item numbers, please note:

No catalog items have the letter "O" in them! Anything that looks like an
"O" is really a *zero*! Letters can be entered in upper *or* lower case
("2r" *or* "2R" makes no difference). You can separate item numbers by
spaces ("1m01 2R12 3s05 etc.") and/or by commas
("1m01,2R12,3s05,etc."). " There
is no need to frighten your customers. Simply do the described processing in
background (including conversion of O to 0, where needed).
This section of the page (Search by product number) should be handled as a
part of Search widget.

--
Oleh Kovalchuke
Interaction Design is design of time
http://www.tangospring.com/IxDtopicWhatIsInteractionDesign.htm

PS If you have any questions, don't forget that we (IxDA Colorado) have F2F
this Wednesday. I'll be there.

On Sun, May 11, 2008 at 4:06 PM, Mike Caskey <mike at casadev.com> wrote:

> Hi everyone!
>
> I recently completed some redesign work for this website and would love to
> get some feedback from the IxD community: sonlight.com
>
> Any input/suggestions/advice I can get will be appreciated.
>
> Thanks!
>
> Mike Caskey
> Denver Colorado
>
> P.S. One item I'm really looking for input on is the on-screen
> login/registration and shopping cart summary. I have read (and am beginning
> to agree with) that a login form and the like does not need to be
> persistant, but rather, only presented when needed.
>
> Also, I'm not sure the dropdown menu is what I really want. The plan was
> to eventually have a multiple-column menu, similar to what you might see on
> target.com, but now I'm not 100% convinced that a dropdown is even the way
> to go.
> ________________________________________________________________
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12 May 2008 - 4:01pm
Mat Brady
2008

I love the layout, and the colours, but I have a rather immediate problem about the ease of usability...

How do you write a new topic to the discussion?

I can't find this option at all, and I've looked many time now. :(

It looks like I can only reply to an existing thread, but can't begin a new one.

Practically speaking however I like the side bar- how you can see who has posted in the most recent discussions- but it would be nice to have this list collapsable so it only shows topic headings, and then collapsable again to only the most current discussion.

Also, is there a way to post images on the site? Since it's a design site I'd say it may help the discussion by being able to see what we're talking about. I would guess you'd want some clean designery format to posting images if you did- say, thumbnails that open in new windows to keep the overall site looking as shmick as it does now.

Anyway, if you can tell me how to post a new topic, that would be great... :)

M

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