Hey Chief Delphi,
I am looking for feedback concerning our website: www.team1305.org. We did a big overhaul on our website in 2010, switching to Wordpress and our lead programmer (Who was in 12th grade at the time) creating a custom theme. Until a few moths ago, all we did was basically update content. I took it upon myself to update the layout/format of the site with the advice of our management team. I’d really appreciate some advice on how to improve the content, layout etc. Due to the custom theme, I still can’t figure out how to add drop-down menus to the navigation bar (if you’re wondering). I’m not a programmer, so if you have that sort of advice, please give me the English version. Thanks.
Hey Chief Delphi,
I am currently creating a custom drop down theme for a revision of our website. To make a drop down, I used this page: http://acroweb.co.uk/2010/11/08/adding-css-drop-down-menus-to-wordpress-3-0-theme/.
Before I start critiquing, I have to say that it’s really clear that the design emphasizes being clean and easy-to-understand extremely well. While I’m not a website judge, I do tend to be the guy who’s stuck with jobs like finding recent photos of other teams (my team hosts a kickoff and a competition, and we always have a slick intro video), so I really do appreciate the design goals here.
That said, while this design is extremely clean, I find it a bit difficult to guide my eyes through the page. One of the most important parts of a web design is making sure that it’s really obvious how important each part of the page is–for example, a blog may want to emphasize their sidebar which has links to other articles, while Wikipedia would want to emphasize their text since the sidebar isn’t as important.
Fortunately, the design leaves a lot of room to emphasize certain parts. For example, it shouldn’t be too hard to make the page title underneath the logo bigger so that your eye doesn’t just jump over it, or make your header text a bit bigger so that your eye doesn’t jump between that and the navigation links.
If you want to change up the layout of the site, I would strongly recommend you grasp at least a low-level understanding of web and graphic design principles. The Non-Designer’s Guide to Design is a great starting point for the basic principles, and Smashing Magazine is a great site to search around to figure out how to apply them to web.
I love the nice clean look of your website. Just like your teams website I am doing a complete overhaul of my teams website. Hopefully it looks as clean as yours! Great Job!
Very nice website. These were my general thoughts after a quick scan.
Overall, your front page is good. It has a very clean design. Web users often do not like to scroll and the fact that your home page fit well within the window is definitely good. Your page is very white, which gives it a certain elegance. However, remember that a lot of the website grade comes from how well your site shows your teams personality. Now if white is your dominant color, then you are doing great. The only thing I would think to change about the front page is that everything seems fit in well except for the links to your social media. They seem awkwardly off to the side and my eye was immediately drawn to that.
It seems that one the subpages the side menu bar is pushed rather far down?
You have a lot of content. To me that is the most important thing and I really liked how much info you had. That is a very unique way of doing the students/mentors section. I thought I had seen all the different ways - but I guess not! Very original. Solid Sponsor and Contact Us page as well. And the Media section - I liked your set up. The Resource Section was also fairly comprehensive. The style of organizing documents based on who would be most interested in them is definitely helpful to the average user.
You have a Social Media page, which is a nice touch, but I’m not entirely sure if it is needed considering you have the three main links on the side of all pages. Your outreach page gave the a nice feel for how much you guys are involved in your community. I don’t know if an outside person would read it, but it does give that quantity feel. Don’t you just love Google Calendar? I do. Very detailed Robots page as well, very helpful. I’m not too sure if the build page is necessary, its information could probably easily be put in the robots page. I like the addition of the competition page though. Very informative Result page (Congrats on Deans List and Engineering Inspiration!)
Firstly, I have no idea why, but Google Chrome seems to push the side bar down to the bottom of each page on our site. It works fine with IE, Safari and Firefox, but not Chrome.
Secondly, I appreciate everybody’s suggestions. I will definitely take them into consideration. Regarding the social media plugin on the site, I went through about a dozen different plugins until we agreed on this one. I agree it’s distracting, however it was the only one which looked appealing while not appearing on the sidebar (which Chrome pushes to the bottom). If anyone has another Wordpress plugin they’d recommend, I’d appreciate it!
Lastly, I have made a little progress in navigation. As some of you might have noticed, I have added a navigation drop down menu to the sidebar. Unfortunately, all plugins I have tried to add the drop down feature to the main menu have failed. It’s probably the custom theme we developed a few years back.
Thanks and keep the comments coming!
My only criticism is that your team logo should be much bigger. Beyond that, I like it. It’s easy to navigate, clean, and well balanced.
I recently took into account of of the suggestions that the social networking plugins were distracting from the site content and deleted the plugin. I have replaced it with a new plugin, now positioned at the bottom of the screen. I have seen it used effectively on other sites (like HexBug.com) so I decided to try it out. Tell me what you think.
(Seeing as I was the one who made the plugin suggestion…)
Although its not something that I would probably do, I actually really like your bottom social media bar. Its sort of out of the way while still be ever-present. Plus it gives people the option to get rid of it (if they desire). And it looks fancy / uses your team colors.
looking to update need help
Here are some of my flyby thoughts…
Your front page is fairly clean. I would advise two thing: make your header (with team number and name) bigger and add perhaps a paragraph explaining who you are and/or what is first. I like your header design but it doesnt catch the users eye enough and you could probably fix that by making it just a tad bit bigger. Also initial viewers might be interested in a quick overview of who you are, so its often a good idea to put introductory information on the front page.
You have a very detailed student and mentor section, so kudos because that is definitely extra work. I did find it a little confusing that you put the ‘alumni’ section under the mentor area. If you were going to list all of your alumni I would make it a separate section, equal to mentors and students. If you are only listing alumni-turned-mentors then I would group them in with the mentor page, although maybe under a special heading, similar to the way you have “Mentors Emeritus”.
Its a little unclear why you have a regular Calendar and a parents Calendar, especially because the regular is powered by Google and the Parents one is not. Unless you have an overriding reason, I would probably combine them and use the Google Calendar (its easy and neat).
I would probably add more the FIRST section. Not only does it give viewers a better understanding of the program but website judges also like to see some original content about FIRST written by the team.
The amount of content on each year for the Team History section seems to be different each time. If you can, I would standardize how much on each one just for consistency’s sake. It might also be helpful to break down your information by type and then by year. I know many teams have a page for each game and then on that page the game information is sorted by year. And then they have a page for awards and the awards are sorted by year. Often that is a little easier to navigate. Also it seems a little odd that for Team History you have a tab for each year and then sponsors is put in there. I would probably make sponsors a separate section. It doesn’t quite fit into team history. The sponsor page does seem nice and standard.
The information about your outreach project seems fairly comprehensive. The 'Summer 2012" Page is a bit of a mystery to me. Is it a schedule? You might want to clarify more / neaten the page up. Or perhaps incorporate it into the Calendar? Nice resources section, there seems to be a good bit of information there.