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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I've designed a website for a project I'm working on, and wondered if people would mind taking a quick look if they have time to tell me what they think of it.

Particularly:

General opinions
How user friendly it is.
Did it take too long to load?
Graphically / Overall Design
Or anything else you want to say.

http://www.thereddoorchronicles.co.uk/

Thank you very much in advance, I look forward to hearing all your views.

Dave.

P.S: The project is a mystery / suspense novel if you wanted to know the context of the project that the website is representing.
 

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From the technical side:

- The use of frames is generally frowned upon now, as it is not search-engine friendly, and not all small/portable device browsers support it.

- By having most of your content in an image, there is very little (if anything) for the search engines to parse so as to analyze what your page is about. It is also an accessibility issue, since there is nothing for a text-to-speech program to read.

- The pages do not have a DOCTYPE declaration.

- Some other mark-up errors can be found via the w3.org validator. (Some of those are a side-effect of not defining a valid DOCTYPE that supports framesets.)

There, glad you asked? ;)
 

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Likes:
  • Preview - I like the description of the book when you first enter the site. The text is intriging, and makes me want to explore further.
  • Second Preview - I like the second index page that talks about the loophole. Again, this was a neat way to introduce an ebook format.
  • Banner Grapphic - I like the graphic with the pulsating heartbeat thing, I thought that looked sharp.

Things to consider:
  • Where is the red door? - Since the book title includes a "red door", I would ilke to see that incorproated into the theme of the site more so than a book. An "enter if you dare" approach on the opening page seems like a fun way to draw people in where they would click on a door knob of a red door...
  • Links don't work - the links page doesn't include functional links.
  • Double frames annoying - having frames on the left and on the right side are a bother, and like NogDog mentioned, they aren't friendly to viewing on smaller devices.
  • Not much on the site - The site itself doesn't offer much in the way of content. Rather than huge links to purchase the book, I would like to see some more background to the story, meet the author, meet the main character(s), etc. That is the kind of stuff I would expect to see on a Website for the book. The Amazon links are useful, but should be downplayed in my opinion since they are immersion breaking and send you to another window.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Hi, wow I did not expect replies this soon. Thank you..

NogDog:

Hi, thank you.  I had no idea about the Doctype stuff.  My website designing skills from a coding aspects are archaic -- last time I did hover buttons it was done using Java script, which I soon learned was a no no now.  I’ll go back and add the doc type data in, thanks for that and the link to the validator site.

The content in images, I think I will leave as is, as I'm not confident enough to make a website look the way I would like through code alone- I’m more of a graphics guy than a code guy/girl.  I honestly don't know how to anything but the basics - I tried, took 4 days to learn how to code the hover buttons.

As for the frames, same as what I said above -- last time I built a website, frames were all the rage lol I’ll look in to playing around with a non-frame version.

-----------------------------

Kansaskyle:

Hello kansaskyle, thank you for your views; many heads are better than one.

Like I was saying to NogDog, had no Idea frames were a bad thing, will look at making a friendly version.

I too played around with a red door entry button; I did not like it at first, but still thinking about it, as the title suggest, you would expect a red door somewhere on the site.

The links should be on the right side of the book, I’ll have to check that and see why they were not showing up for you - maybe other people have the same problem.  Thank you for telling me this.

Your input on content, really liked those ideas, I’d not thought too much about that, originally the idea was the website would be more of a mystery meant to whet you appetite more that anything, but yes more background to the story, meet the author, meet the main character etc I can see be important to people.  Again thank you for that.

------------------------

hamerfan

The back button is suppose act as the home button, or did you mean a button that takes you back to the main entry point to the website?  If so, I’d not thought about that.  Thanks for this.  Will sort that out.

Again, just want to thank you lot for your input, ideas, and point of views. 

Really appreciate you taking the time.

 

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I have a 1024 by 768 display.  The initial page is an attention grabber,
but when I clicked on the image an went to the next page with two frames
I had to scroll in both of them to see everything, which was aggravating since
I was looking at an image in the right frame, not reflowable text.

The US price of 3.03 was a surprise.  I often sort books by lowest to highest
price and 3.03 will put yours after a zillion priced at 2.99

The pitch was interesting, but I haven't got a clue what the book is about and
without a little more substance concerning what it's about I wouldn't be apt
to buy it. 
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi scl,

Thank you for taking the time to look and tell me what you think.

Sadly, the lowest I tested the site on was 1280 by 960 - I'm going to try and whip up a non-frame version soon when I get a chance, so I'll look at making it more friendlier for lower res viewers.

Original it was $2.99, I think I must have forgotten to take in to account the 15% VAT thing...  Thank you for that - I’ll make the change soon as Amazon bookshelf let’s me.

Another user mentioned the same thing, about not knowing what the book was about.  My original plan was the website would be a bit of an enigma, but I'm changing that as its too much of a riddle. 

To remedy just that, I've added a character profile section that is 45% finished and is live now.  I've moved all the offsite buttons to the links page to aid emersion which another user pointed out, which was a great idea.  I’ve also added the books front cover to the site - for a story about red doors, the website did lack not having... well a red door. lol

I'm going to be adding an about the book section and a meet the author section too.  That’s not started yet though.

Again thank you and thanks to everyone else for your advice, tips and opinions.  It's much appreciated.

Bye for now!
 

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The landing page is ineffective in my opinion. There is no call to action and for that reason I didn't know what I was supposed to do. The copy isn't working for me. It doesn't make me want to continue into the site.

The next page looks straight out of the 90s. The graphics are confusing and mostly misleading.


Why don't you just use Wordpress or something and focus more on content rather than design?
 

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My two cents:

I love the blog title with the heart pulse running thru it and would have that on the landing page rather than just the second page.

As it is, the landing page is confusing because it's a big red splotch that says "Ignorance not bliss" but it's not clear what I'm supposed to do here.  I realized that I could click anywhere to get to the next page, but I wouldn't leave that to chance.  I was on a specific mission to explore your site.  Others may not be.

I agree with Kansaskyle that I would expect to see a red door (mysterious, blood splotched, or otherwise) when going to a site named The Red Door Chronicles.

The pages all load quickly, but I agree with the others that the frames are a bit annoying.

I love the one page writing sample that you lead with and would definitely keep that up front.
 

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My comments:

You need a home button, not a back button.  I don't want to simply go back a page, I want to go back to your home page.
The back button doesn't show, I have to scroll down to it and if I weren't the kind to scroll, I'd never know it was there.

On your home page, it seems I can click on anything in red ink (which may or may not be right), but on other pages that doesn't necessarily hold true. 

The red ink on random words on the home page is kind of annoying.

Change your splotch to a door, perhaps?

And as has been said, the frames are annoying.

Oh, and "how?"  I clicked on it, so I see that was "how to get the book" but just putting "how" doesn't tell me anything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Doug,

Thanks for your input, true about the call to action bit, I originally had some text below the landing page picture that instucted people on what to click, but felt it was a little too simple, like I was treating people like they were... well, simple.  I'll have a play and see if I can come up with something which is 50/50. 

Graphics wise comment, cheers.  I was actually going for a mid 90's style design, so I guess I hit that nail on the head.  Oh the graphics make sense .... eventually, nothing on the site is there without reason.  It one of those, oh, now I get it, things.


Hi Michael,

Thank you for looking at my site, good idea, I never even thought about putting the blog title banner on the landing page - now I think about it, don't know why I didn't.

The landing page, I’ll be looking at amending it so it will be more clear as to what to do - I've also been fiddling with the landing page graphic, it soon is going to be updated with the books front cover, which has a red door ;)

I think I’m stuck with the frames for now at least, I can’t code worth a damn, sadly.  But very good point about scrolling down. -- I place the back button at the top.


Hey Scarlet,

Cheers for taking a look see, yes, I’m thinking now a Home button is needed, I’ll work that in to the site.

Yeah, it’s been 50/50 with regards to the frames; I’m going to attempts a non-frame version at some point, but for now it will have to remain as is.  I’m working on making the frames a little more nav-user-friendly though.

The ‘how?’ I know what you mean, I was never really 100% with that, it was of those people will understand when they’ve click it moments.  I know... I’m still thinking about something instead though.


Anyways, AGAIN, Thank you all so much, for taking the time to view and comment about what you thought - I'm glad I'd made the thread, I'm learning a lot.

Bye for now.

 

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oh and david, a blurb would be nice also.  i don't really want to learn about the characters until i know about the book.

 

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I'll second pretty much all of what people have written so far...

davidjk1 said:
.. snip
Graphics wise comment, cheers. I was actually going for a mid 90's style design, so I guess I hit that nail on the head. Oh the graphics make sense .... eventually, nothing on the site is there without reason. It one of those, oh, now I get it, things.

..clip
and on this.. i think you mis-interpreted. The 90's style design? That's not a Good Thing.

You may have it there for a purpose but I'm never going to find out what that purpose is because those Frontpage styled buttons and navigation structure are death.

And not in a good way.
 

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kansaskyle said:
Likes:
  • Preview - I like the description of the book when you first enter the site. The text is intriging, and makes me want to explore further.
  • Second Preview - I like the second index page that talks about the loophole. Again, this was a neat way to introduce an ebook format.
  • Banner Grapphic - I like the graphic with the pulsating heartbeat thing, I thought that looked sharp.
I agree with all those things!!!

There are technical issues to consider that have already been mentioned, and yes the double frames are annoying. If you can't fit all your page buttons without using a frame - try drop down menus/categories - it just looks more professional than needing a frame. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Hey guys,

Yup, I'm from the UK and still awake, I like to finish what I start.

Hey Nathan and MoonlitDreams, ty for checking the site and giving feedback - I do really appreciate it.    Yeah, seems frames is not the way to go - a lot of people are having tech-problems with it, it seems.   I'm 100% certain I'm going to hammer down and create a non-frame version now.   I'll play around with what you suggested Moon, drop down menus might be a good way around my problem, and must admit it would look a little more professional than the 'frontpage' styled buttons that Nathan mentioned...  That made me smile -- this all great feed back.

Scarlet, blurb is up now + a little extra bit I was planning on throwing in.

I’ve also updated the landing page with the red door graphic and banner, luckily I created the front cover for my book myself, so I had the original without title text on it.

I've also moved the back button to the top left frame to aid frame navigation AND a home button is there now too - this should aid frame nav till I’ve created + learned to do drop down menus.

Still to do =  

Finish the profile snippets.
Add a ‘about the author’ section.
alter how? button

Get rid of the frames...

As always, thank you all for your help and advice.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Hi all,

I slept a little... I promise.  Anyways, below is a list of the more recent changes.


1) I've fixed the 2-page frame issue, so there is no nasty frame navigation flow.

2) Gone with a more 'less is more' approach with the buttons and relocated their position to the header - so no more horrible scrolling down in frame 2! - Must admit, I like it better and does look a tad more professional.

3) As a bonus of altering the frames, the site now scales down from '1980 by 1080' right down to '1024 by 768', so it should be viewable to more people now.

4) Amended the ‘How?’ button to something that made more sense.


Still a few things to finish, which is shown on site with a 'coming soon' graphic, but all in all the flow and design should be near complete now.


Just want to say I can’t believe how helpful people have been in this thread.  I am really grateful for all your advice and criticisms.  It’s made my site a lot better.

Thank you:

NogDog -- kansaskyle -- hamerfan -- scl -- Doug Lance  -- Michael Scott Miller -- scarlet -- Nathan Lowell -- MoonlitDreams


Bye for now.



 

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I know next to nothing of website-design. :)
I'm sure all the more technical people have given you good tips. My input is just as a user.
I kept wanting to click on the sides of the pages, expecting to go forward (right) or back (left).
Don't know if it's feasible or even desirable, but there you go.   :-\

On the whole, just as promotion for a book, I liked the design.
 

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You still have frames. The "2-page frame issue" is "you have frames." You didn't get rid of it. You just rearranged it.

You *really* need to get rid of them and learn CSS if you're going to do this. At very LEAST go with a table format to organize your page properly if you can't get the CSS to work right. Seriously.

Couple other things to think about.

The "Home" button takes me back to the splash page -- not the 'home' page. With the organizational structure you have now, the "Back" button is superfluous because it doesn't take you back. It takes you to the home page ... (go to profiles .. pick one .. pick another ... pick back. it goes to the home page not the previously selected profile. seems awkward to me. With the submenu, it's easy enough to click the profile button without needing a "back")

Think about changing "How to Read" to "Get the Book" ... How to read makes me think you're going to tell me that there's some hidden clues in the text that I need to use my kindle to take advantage of. Instead you tell me it's on kindle and where to get the software if I don't have it.

And there's no link to the book on the kindle store!! You actually tell people how to search for it?!

Dude. Seriously?
 

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I may be looking at a later version than others have critiqued but here are my thoughts.

I like the title with the heartbeat graphic pulsing through it. However, it gets lost with so much other red on the page. Reworking that splash page, I'd make all the text on the right black, and everything else monochromatic except the door and the heartbeat pulse. Take away the blood spatter and the claw mark and make the door illustration look more part of the book. Cut down the text on the right by about half and bring the margins in so it looks more part of the book.

I like the conceit of "this manuscript was suppressed in print but can now be published electronically" -- that is a nice hook.

Try hot-linking the links on the "Links" page. Make them clickable.

A "blurb" is typically a recommendation from an author or reviewer, such as you might find on the jacket of a book. I think what you're offering is a summary or tease... not a blurb. Call it a hook, or a sample, or something like that.

I would delete the character bios. Seems amateur and overshares.

I didn't understand the "Apps" link.

I hope this helps.

Love,
LYDIA

[-]
Lydia Netzer
Writer, Reader, Mother, Velociraptor
http://lydianetzer.blogspot.com
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