New Website Comments/ Suggestions

Discussion in 'Presentation & Marketing' started by Bob Carnie, Jan 3, 2007.

  1. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi there

    We have just launched our new website with probably glitches and such and we would like to hear any feedback on our new design.
    www.elevatordigital.ca , Ignore the digital pages if you are so inclined.
     
  2. Derek Lofgreen

    Derek Lofgreen Member

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    All of your content are in the form of PDF files? I would change all of that so it shows up as text in html pages. Don't make people download individual files, it's a pain. I would also change your splash page to be a home page and roll your decor stuff in as a different service that you offer right along side of your other sevices.

    The colors are nice, it is clean and looks professional. It's a good start.

    D.
     
  3. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    Not much of a pain since I wouldn't spend two minutes on that site. PDFs? You gotta be kidding me. I won't gin up a compliment about anything to do with such an ill-conceived use of the web. Sorry to be harsh but seriously (not rhetoricially), what are you thinking?

    For your sake, I hope no one pitched you some paradigm in which this made sense and is now planning to bill you for this work. I'd send them back to the drawing board if I was feeling generous. Otherwise I'd just find someone else.
     
  4. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    Well, jstraw was harsh, and not very helpful in his comments, but he is basically right about the structure of the website.
    Every place I clicked (when my cursor indicated a link present) resulted in a "404" error... ie, nothing is there. Then I noticed that every selection I made opened up a new window! Cripes... no wonder I couldn't get 'back' to the main page!

    Bob, I used to do usability studies on websites, and I would have to say that with all the available tools there are for creating user-friendly websites, it amazes me to find one so user un-friendly.

    Here are some 'standards' that every website should meet:
    * Static menus - a main listing of the key menu choices that appear on each and every page. Users should be able to "travel" anywhere in a website without getting lost.
    * Pain-free viewing of graphics - users generally do not want windows popping open for every page of the site. They lose track of things, and can forget that they have them open. Graphics can either cycle thru (like a slide show) or there can be a static display on one side, and an enlarged version that appears to the other side when the user clicks on the thumbnail.

    I hope this gives you a place to start!
     
  5. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I too find the PDFs annoying - if anything, have the content available ALSO as a PDF, in case someone wants to print it, but not PDF only. It comes across as a bit of a slap in the face to anyone who took the time to browse your site. Also, popping up every page in a new window is a major turnoff. MAJOR. I don't want a half-dozen (or even just two or three) windows open from a given "site", since it doesn't feel like a site anymore, and if I browse away in one window, I can come back later and find I still have something open from you that I didn't realize. If I'm an inexperienced or sloppy browser, I might think you slipped me a pop-under, which makes me all the more disinclined to use you or visit your site again, since it smacks of deviousness.
     
  6. rogueish

    rogueish Member

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    I'm afraid they are right Bob. This would have barely gotten a passing mark in my night class.
    Jeanette says every page needs a menu and she is correct, this is a must. At the very least, a "back button" or link. New page opening for every link? Bad news, very bad. Ease of site navigation is high up in the important rule book.
    Derek and jstraw are right about the .pdf files. Something that was a little bit of a pain with your previous site. While Acrobate reader is now standard on most new computers, a lot of people avoid them if they can. An important thought for internet files: dial up connections. Treat your site as if the person viewing it is on a phone connection (not everyone is on high speed). Which means downloads are not instant. Anyone with a slow connection will tell you "I hate waiting for files". The more and/or longer someone has the wait, the quicker they will leave, and likely, not return. HTML files load the quickest and can be opened by almost ANY program. PDF can only be opened by Acrobat. Colours and basic layout are good, easy on the eyes.
    When I had to create mine for class, I went back to my favourite sites (including APUG) and looked at the way things were laid out. What do you like about the way these sites operate? Don't look at the content, look at the layout and the navigation. Also watch what loads fast and what takes time. A wait time of 5 secounds for high speed cable can be a minute (or worse) for wireless or phone connections.
     
  7. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    There are good reasons for using pdf files and bad reasons. The common bad reasons are a rigid view that the designer must have *absolute* control over the appearance of the document and/or lack of investment in time to learn how to achieve that end in html.

    Good reasons include document security, when appropropriate and the importance of a given document to print precisely...such as something like the f-stop printing dial on Ralph Lambrecht's site.

    I have never seen a site that used them as a default document type for basic content and really cannot conceive of an instance where that would make sense.

    There *is* some good graphic design on the site. I'd keep that as a basis and heed all of the advice you've been given here.
     
  8. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    thanks for the suggestions and constructive critisisms above.

    The pdfs are basically a necessity from a lab perspective. I am open to all the above suggestions that allow me to keep downloadable pages.
    *we are constantly sending pages of specific services to people who inquire about them. The pdfs are very easy for us to work on and move around at a fast pace.
    As a multifacit lab we have tried to divide the commercial and decor work away from the lab services.
    As well we have isolated digital and traditional processes in these pdf pages for our clients. As we all know some people are only interested in film and bypass any digital items, but on the other side of the coin there are those who are totally digital and do not care about our analogue services.

    One note , our web site from our viewpoint is basically a vehicle to give current prices and our labs direction of the services we are good at and want to continue.
    We know there are many ways of making the site look brand new rather than dated , but in fact we are dated with some of our services and would rather have prospective customers find what the require fast. We do not expect someone to surf our lab site because it is slick and full of imagery.


    So any suggestions or critisisms that can solve these issues would be appreciated by us.
     
  9. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    You're saying pdfs are essential but not explaining why. Why?

    I don't see a relationship between the need to compartmentalize content and choice of file type.

    Your site has not been criticized for a lack of imagery or for looking dated. It has been criticized for *not* being conducive to helping people find what they're looking for fast (the lack of menus, all the separately opening windows, etc.).

    I'd recommend that you disregard my initial harshness. I apologize for fueling your defensiveness. I'd be defensive too. You'll be better off if you try and take the constructive criticism to heart rather than defend what you what you requested feedback for.

    Fo what it's worth, there's no reason editing a PDF file should be faster or easier than editing an HTML document. In fact, the opposite should be true. Proper use of html/css seperates content from presentation and your content is free to be edited without having to wade into the design elements every time. Also, you're free to update your design whenever you need to without re-writing all of your content.


    So any suggestions or critisisms that can solve these issues would be appreciated by us.
     
  10. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Bob- while I understand where you are coming from with the PDFs, and they may be the norm for dealing with existing customers, with the current design, you are not going to be getting any new customers based on your website. Without actually downloading a PDF, I can't really tell ANYTHING about your business other than you have lab services and decor services. You need to keep your site functioning within a single browser window, with menu navigation that will allow folks to return to the homepage, or to visit any other page on the site within a maximum of three clicks. Ideally within two.

    I can't repeat this often enough - this site will drive away new customers, not encourage them to give you a try. I can't find any information on your site beyond a bare minimum without downloading a PDF. It is NOT difficult to have an application like Acrobat rip the contents of a PDF out to an HTML page. And the Decor page? I can't even tell where the PDF is or what to click on to launch it. Why would I use your services when all I see is one pretty picture? You need more text out in the open to describe what your Decor service is.

    Here is the local pro lab's website -

    http://www.chromeimaging.com/

    (I have no affiliation with them other than being an occasional customer).
    While you don't need to have your website filled with Flash animations of cool graphics and photos (overall I like your base presentation better), the information they provide on the site is the kind of information you need to have visible.
     
  11. BWGirl

    BWGirl Member

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    There is no reason why you can't have a thumbnail and explanation of what a pdf file contains that the user can click on & download the actual pdf file if they chose.

    There is also no reason why the suggestions the others and I made cannot be implemented while still maintaining your primary goals for the site. They are just basic/fundamental requirements for a site.

    If it is true that you want customers & potential customers to "find what the(sic) require fast." then having every click open a window is counterproductive, since it confuses most users.

    I don't think any of us suggested the website be "slick and full of imagery" only that it be orderly and easy to navigate.

    I guess my suggestion, based on your response would be to hire a website designer, give them your requirements & goals for the site, and let them solve your problems... they are, after all, professionals like yourselves and would be able to offer you solutions that do not compromise your requirements.
     
  12. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Bob,

    I agree with every critique posted above. As a point of reference, here are your competitors' websites:
    http://www.duggal.com/
    http://www.aandi.com/
    http://www.gammaphoto.com/
    http://www.metroimaging.co.uk/
    http://www.picto.fr/

    And here are your competitors locally:
    http://www.pikto.ca/
    http://www.steichenlab.com
    http://www.torontoimageworks.com
    http://www.colourgenics.com/
    http://www.torontoblackandwhite.com/
    http://www.dmaxlabs.com/

    Now some of these have flaws too, but in terms of finding that balance you are seeking most in the first group get to it more.

    A&I's website I think has that balance you are seking. They have the site itself where information readily available. It's slick enough to convey the level of professionalism and clientele they get on a regular basis. Thyey have an FTP area for people to upload digital images - a must in today's world. Plus it has print and download options in various areas of their site.

    I hope these references help you.

    Regards, Art.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2007
  13. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi All
    Bear in mind that I do not take any offence to any and all comments.
    A comment on another forum was that our old site was much better, I hated it. Same web guy , and if he had his way the new site would be a massaged upgrade of that one. But I really did not like its usefulness for us and our clients.
    What we are trying to do is basically not sell ourselves visually on our site , as well we feel that the site is only for basic price guidelines.
    Our site manager or designer warned me about the pdf issues .
    I am hoping with your comments and those of others on other forums to help make the site easy for use for our clients , as well for us to keep all our info or propaganda in one area.
    I have surfed the web for years and really have not seen to many designs that suit our particular needs.
    Most of other labs that we compete with or are in major centers have a very strong desire for front counter or drop in business.
    Over the last couple of years our work has consisted more of larger projects for photographers and designers and less and less of front counter drop off of one off printing assignments *** damm epsons***
    I really do appreciate all the suggestions and we will be taking notes and moving forward with some of the ideas that you all present.
    My background is not very web based and I will have to pass on all your suggestions to my partner and web guy. Most of what you have said is not technical lingo that I understand but it will definately be passed on.
     
  14. percepts

    percepts Member

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    I suspect that what is happenning with your web site is just pure laziness.
    You've started with PDF's because it convenient and you can't be bothered to reproduce the data in your web site. Well I can't be bothered to download all those pdf's, Bye Bye.
     
  15. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    So you web guy warned you that your requests amounted to a bad idea...everyone you ask confirms it was a bad idea...and now you're stuck defending it. It's your business and you don't need anyone's permission to have a bad website. It's a battle you get to win. But what have you won? You can express your authoritah or you can have a decent website. What you have now is not a decent website. New visiotrs will not waste their time with it. It may serve a purpose for existing customers or to people that have heard such good things about your business that they deem the inconvenience worth it but it's an impediment to acquiring new busness, not an aid. If I were you, I'd eat humble pie and go back to the drawing board and have a website that served my business interests well. But what do I know.
     
  16. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    It sounds like you guys need to have a simple content management system installed. This will allow you to keep the look you have but give you the ability to login to any page on the site and update it without having to use web tools or ftp. These content management systems (CMS) also have a "download as pdf" link. This way you get the best of both worlds, each link is instantly viewable, and a pdf can be generated in real time depending on what you've updated.. just my 2c
     
  17. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I recently attended a seminar on building web sites for selling art. The one thing that was pounded into us was that sites need to be conventional. One doesn't want a customer to have to guess at where to go or how to go there. Plain and simple.

    I agree with Sean - a good content management system takes care of all of these concerns.
    juan