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Old 17th September 2007, 01:51 AM   #1
Wagon
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Default My Idea... and execution

Okay, now bear with me here... I'm trying to build up somewhat of a portfolio for myself. It is for experience, for fun, and as a service to others. I figure the best way to establish credibility in the market of blogging and web development is to be knowledgeable on the subject. So I am offering my advise on how to improve your website, in terms of SEO, monetization, design, and usability.

How much demand would there be for this, and is there potential for expansion? I have an example analysis:
Quote:
I was asked by Mike conduct an analysis of Koobarra.com. Mike sent me an email saying “this site was built a year or two ago and the universal opinion has been that my site really sucks,” according to members of his hosting provider. They were right. The design is horrible. It reminds me of a classic, free Geocities website. After going to his other site, I died a little on the inside. All destructive criticism aside, this can be fixed. I am assuming you want to make the site usable and presentable. We will work on this. *cracks knuckles* Off we go!

Presentation

Where should I start? Well, the first thing I noticed was my cursor. This isn’t a myspace page, nor should it look and act like one. This is a website. Please get rid of the code that changes my cursor at the top of your page.

The second thing I noticed was your domain name… and the title of your blog. What is Koobarra and why would I want to read something about Koobarra? Is that you? Why should I care about you? Establish yourself! Why are you here? Be specific! The main purpose of design is to function. Its secondary function is to look pretty. Your site doesn’t function or look pretty. In your email, you described everything you can do with your website. It sounds so dynamic, but when I get there - how would I know?

Here’s objective #1 for you:
-Design for a mentally challenged pre-schooler

I don’t mean this as an insult to anyone mentally handicapped - but you will always know more about what you are trying to write than anyone reading it. In short, make it simple! Pretend people are coming to your site from a foreign country speaking horribly broken English. When I access your website, I see so many functions on the left, I am overwhelmed! You even had to explain your site to me and I am still a bit lost! Pretend you are in 3rd grade and you have to write an instruction manual for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to a foreigner. Here’s how it would go:
Step 1: Unscrew cap of light-brown substance
Step 2: Unscrew cap of gel-like substance
Step 3: Get sharp pointy thing
Step 4: Dip sharp pointy thing into Step 1 and spread on one side of one bread slice
Step 5: Dip sharp pointy thing into Step 2 and spead on one side of another bread slice
Step 6: Connect Steps 1 and 2

To spare you some sanity, I didn’t go into any more detail. You see what I am saying, though. Just because your menu on the left has the option of caching your saved .txt files that you uploaded to distribute to everyone on your BFF list doesn’t mean people will understand it. In fact, I bet 98% of the people that go to your site will be totally confused. So plain and simple: SIMPLIFY. Never assume people will understand something. Ever. Odds are, they won’t.

Your title of “Koobarra,” at the top of your page, should be descriptive enough so you won’t have to have a “Welcome to Koobarra” box right below it. I still don’t know what Koobarra means. Filter out what is necessary. Make a list. What makes your site what it is? What completes it? What is a necessity of your site? Anything that doesn’t make the list… delete. There are way too many options for anyone to stomach.

I don’t want to have to register to comment. No one else really wants to either (unless you have a very large fan-base). The only reason I would want to flag one of your articles as spam is if you don’t have control over your blog/compilation. Is that necessary? Could this option be abused?

At first, I was confused as to what this site did, but in the middle of typing this I saw my article on Aryst’s analysis pop up. This is the main issue - when I came to your site, I had no clue what it was. I didn’t even know it was a compilation site. I think the news articles are more important than your Recent Visitors - so basically, I think you should put that over on the left. You should really create a hierarchy of needs. I’ll mock one up for you real quick:
What comes first with your site?
1. Content
2. Usability
3. Presentation
4. Feedback
5. Efficiency

So then you have to ask yourself: What gets in the way of my content? What hinders my site’s usability? What could be wrong with my presentation? Am I getting enough feedback? How efficient is my site?

You are not getting the most out of your site, at the moment. I think it has much potential, but content remains king… so treat it like one!

I’m never really one to criticize colors too much. However, I do think you need to choose between the two ends of the spectrum (blue or pink?) and run with it. Change the thickness of your borders to something like 1px because they steal your attention away from the content. I spent half of my time tracing your borders with my eyes! Make them more subtle! The logo at the top-left looks like clip-art. I would suggest either taking it down or making something original. It may represent your site well, but it doesn’t look good (doesn’t go with your colors, mostly). Another issue is with consistency. One box has a light-blue background, one has pink links, one has blue links, another purple… my head is spinning! Try to make things universal. If you don’t want to deal with that, make the “Theme” option more accessible… like make it available to change on the front page. Also, changing the theme messes up the links you have set up at the bottom of each blog post… maybe remove the theme-changing option?

Make the title at the top a link to your homepage.

Technical

Heard enough yet? Well, there’s still more to come. Your website works. That’s very important. It functions as you want it to function. As I will say with any site I analyze, you need to validate it… well, as much as possible. I must admit, I am a bit hypocritical when it comes to site validation. I don’t really do much, in terms of validation; but it is always important to follow these guidelines when validating:
1. Include titles in <a></a>
2. Include alts in <img>
3. Close every bracket
4. End every quote

That should clear up about half of the validation issues. The title of your site is not descriptive. If you are going to create a site without specific pages for articles, it is always important to have a descriptive title on your front page. You do not have any meta tags. This severely cripples your SEO. The important meta tags are description and keywords, so make sure you at least have those.

Your load times are fine.

Monetization

Like I have said before in my other analysis - you may not be in it for the money. However, if you (hypothetically) wanted to make money, I’ll tell you what I would do. It’s part of my… thing. You could probably put a leaderboard at the top of your page and some ads below blog posts. In terms of on the left menu - I would clean it up a bit before I put ads close to that.

The Lo-Down

-Remove cursor-change script
-Lay out the purpose to your site
-What is Koobarra?
-Consider necessity of some links below blog posts
-Consider a new/more defining logo
-Remove recent visitors box (or move it to the left)
-Consider necessity of a login system
-Reconsider necessity of 100,000 menu options
-Consider changing website colors
-Add meta tags
-Work on validation
-Content is king

Conclusion

Functionally, your site is a mess. Can it be improved? Easily. Much of what I recommended requires simple fixes - delete something here, add something there, and figure things out. I think that is what really messes your site up the most - it doesn’t have a specific purpose or niche. Your site could look butt ugly, but still really shine with its content. When I go to your site, I don’t know what the content is and why it should matter to me! Be sure you make everything clear. Overall, I think your site has potential because I feel like I only scratched the surface. I only really figured out its general purpose 1/4 of the way through writing this. I only hope I was clear with what I was trying to convey.

Remember - assume the people who come to your site have never seen a website before. That should put things in perspective.

Overall Rating
2/10
Main Factor: Confusion

Note: Content is not a factor in ratings. The overall rating is based purely on everything analyzed above.
So how valuable is this type of information to people? I really just scratched the surface on that one because the site was so mediocre. But I try to incorporate some entertainment and humor value in it and I want to market this with other websites. The plan is to basically churn out this stuff for free until I would ultimately end up getting a long list of "clients" (if it is free, are they considered clients?). This is being optimistic.

Thoughts? Opinions?


Last edited by Wagon; 17th September 2007 at 01:52 AM. Reason: Forgot to chang title
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