[thelist] site check: http://intranetIntelligence.com/

M. Seyon evolt07 at delime.com
Thu Nov 23 16:22:19 CST 2006

Message from Joel D Canfield (11/23/2006 12:37 PM)

>I'm a firm believer in constructive criticism as a learning tool. This
> > why the heck couldn't they get a better designer?
>could be converted to something constructive by pointing out specific
>design fundamentals being violated, or by providing specific suggestions
>for improvement; perhaps even resources for learning design (most
>helpful re: resources would be those available to a family man trying to
>make a living, meaning time for training is tight, and money for
>training is virtually non-existent.)


Your desin skills may not be the best in the world but I have to way, great 
job on the spin doctoring man!

In the very same email you've so exquisitely edited, I provided several 
pieces of technical feedback - which is specifically what you requested - 
on how the layout was broken and offered suggestions to solve them. So 
please don't intimate that I simply bashing your site and not adding value.

I withheld further comments for two reasons:
1. Others had already offered their own opinions on the layout, none of 
which I disagreed with, and I did not want to be redundant.
2. You yourself admitted that certain aspects were under development, such 
as selecting more appropriate photos so honestly, therefore I opted not to 
comment on what I considered a work in progress, subject to change anyways.

Additionally, the very first time you posted about your site I sent you an 
offlist message with a suggestion on a potential avenue to improve your 
site design - not a suggestion for how you could personally improve the 
site because as a non-designer myself I know there are limits to what can 
be achieved. If you can't do it, you just can't. And if it looks good to 
you then there's no changing your mind. Which is why outside help can be so 
valuable, and presumably why so many people request site checks on evolt. 
Or ask a third party to proofread their important documents.

But getting back to the issue at hand. What I did do was couch my comment - 
the marvellously manipulated one - in terms of what a potential client 
might say. Because honestly, as someone who has sought partners to 
outsource technical development work to in the past, if I were to come 
across your site, based on the bold assertion about "every technical 
skill", *as a potential client* I would ask the question I asked. And 
chances are the answer I formulated would cost a company with a design like 
this serious points.

Again, *as a potential client*, which is the hat I clearly (or so I 
thought) donned when delivering that piece of feedback, you can be sure 
that I would *not* be giving you feedback on how to fix your site. Well, 
actually I might, if I thought it might be mutually beneficial - I would 
suggest something along the lines of "maybe I can provide you with design 
skills and you can provide me with technical skills", but I already made 
that suggestion to you offlist, weeks ago.

So whether you wish to recognise the value of the feedback or not, this is 
feedback, and if I were the one seeking advice it's something I'd rather 
see a whole lot more than an empty "looks great, keep it up". Because as a 
one man shop sometimes you get so close to a design that you CAN'T see the 
flaws. Especially when it's something you've no doubt invested considerable 
time and effort into and who the heck is this smart aleck upstart 
no-nothing to bad mouth me on a public list I've been a member of for 
donkey years anyways!

However, if you want some feedback on my subjective opinion of a 
self-described work in progress, please read on:

1. Whitespace is an important design element. But in the same way that you 
can have too little, and end up with a cluttered look, you can have too much.

I think the large L shaped are across the top and down the side, where the 
"It is said..." phrase sits is too much.

Consider the relationship between the previous two paragraphs - one line 
apart, and the subsequent one -

It's totally disconnected. I think your content suffers the same problem. 
It's too far from the rest of the site - the header and navigation. I 
suspect that you were probably trying to use the photo to help bridge this 
disconnect but it is not working, probably because the photos are small, 
positioned all the way to the right of the box and possibly even because 
they are within a border of their own, hence another barrier, so to speak.

2. The "Ii" logo is not a bad concept, but the execution screams 1990's 
Photoshop overload with the embossing. And as this is the only texture on 
an otherwise flat design, it sticks out like a sore thumb. Giving the main 
content box a slight shadow *might* help balance this.

3. There are too many different font styles. There's regular, italic, bold, 
bolded italic, each in varying sizes. The intent may be to draw attention, 
but it's not really drawing the right sort of attention. It has something 
of a ransom-note look to it

4. I don't think the analogous colour scheme is working for you. Analagous 
schemes tend to give a more casual air, while complementary schemes are 
more formal and businessy. Hence the popularity of orange and blue or green 
and blue these days. Incidentally, apparently orange is popular with the 
modern designers because it's one of the few colours that haven't been 
emotionalised, ie red is passion or love or hate, blue is calm, tranquil, etc.

http://www.limov.com/colour/ is a great place to play with colour schemes. 
Try either the Colour Schemes or Make Swatches links. I think Paola is, or 
at least used to be, an evolter. Why not hit her up for some advice if 
she's still around?

5. When you're choosing your new photos may I suggest you consider 
standardising between all black and white or all colour. That may help to 
bring them together as a recognisable set, as it is they're just too 
vaguely grouped to add much impact.

6. I know there's the whole bring back Times font movement but personally I 
don't like Times. At least not for every single element. How about for 
headers only, or content only. Use a sans-serif for the other.

7. I think the best looking page is 

It's tight, well structured, and there is an easy flow to browsing it, 
without all the jerkiness caused by the rambling fonts.

8. On the contact page, I personally don't like putting the contact form 
and alternate contact methods one below the other. If someone wants to use 
the one below it shouldn't be at the expense of additional scrolling. The 
general method I've adopted is to have the contact form as the more 
prominent, with the offline methods listed in a box to the side that's 
easily visible.

Good luck.


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