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View Full Version : Critique this web-design, please.




cr2sh
Apr 21, 2008, 04:57 PM
The company I work for got a new website today... I'm looking for a critique of it:

http://www.woolpert.com/

The flash, moving windows, complicated navigation, different fonts and confusing colors throws me off.. what do you guys think?

Am I over reacting?



InLikeALion
Apr 21, 2008, 05:12 PM
No. It's pretty bad.

Especially in this case where the "branding" and navigation are at the bottom. Sometimes that could work, but not here. It's cluttered and distracting.

sweetice2007
Apr 21, 2008, 05:14 PM
too many images floating around graphics dont look so good, flash based it will effect the company's SEO, horizontal navigation is fine but putting it at the bottom of the page isnt a great idea, should have placed it in its normal position at the top of the page, lacking a logo , the image in the middle looks as though its just been plopped there, no consistency., dont miind the grey and green and white, the navigation isnt so good in that when you hover over it it covers part of the page..too much going on.

t0mat0
Apr 21, 2008, 05:28 PM
My eyes!
1st off - if they wanted rotating graphics, they shouldn't overlap so much, they should have had a more oval shape.
- The graphics look grainy due to the dynamic sizing via the flash
-Worse still, a heinous crime of having the images cover the company logo. Duh!
-Clicking on explore our work - one of the phrases is nearly completely covered by another and its v hard to get to.

There's more, but its a mess. Scrap the mouse moves stuff concept with the graphics. Look to coverflow, youtube's video system etc.

A "design" firm, that needs more work on design.

Your main areas of focus should be most visible, and easiest to get to.

jdl8422
Apr 21, 2008, 07:46 PM
Less is def more with all the flash floating pics... It would be ok if they just used it as maybe an intro or something. Do you happen to know how much they paid for it, or did they do it in house

Makosuke
Apr 21, 2008, 08:16 PM
After the intro, most of the site seems to be acceptable, since the branding/drop menu is across the top, the content is readable, and there's no major flash (though there's no good reason for the branding stripe to be in flash). Left menu area seems awfully wide, but that's a matter of taste.

The front "explore" page, however, is definitely that bad. Even assuming they were dead set on what is a rather ugly flash intro (given the relatively clean look and not-disastrous code elsewhere), why the heck is it appearing above the menu rather than below it? It doesn't even make sense within the context of the rest of the site.

cr2sh
Apr 21, 2008, 08:53 PM
The interesting thing is.. looking at the code, the company logo and "Explorer" bar is located in a div called "flash_header" but it's at the bottom. :confused:

Here's what it'd look like if the header was where a header should be.

I'm starting to wonder if there's a error in this...

InLikeALion
Apr 21, 2008, 10:03 PM
On a personal note (and this is not meant as an attack on your company) but I keep thinking the company is sheep experts, or whorl-pool experts or something. Woolpert. It makes me smile.

ChicoWeb
Apr 21, 2008, 10:17 PM
Don't resize! You'll loose your navigation :eek:

stainlessliquid
Apr 21, 2008, 11:34 PM
I hate flash so I think it should be killed off like shockwave. Never been to a flash site I have liked using. I also hate preloading everything or waiting 2 minutes for it to preload an entire site. Luckily it seems like flash is finally on the decline in favor of simpler CSS layouts, it used to be extremely rampant and annoy the hell out of me and Im the opposite of coding nuts that think the code and accessibility is more important than the way it looks.

snickelfritz
Apr 22, 2008, 12:52 PM
The Flash image carousel breaks when the browser is resized too small.
Also, Image smoothing might improve the appearance of the thumbnail animation. (eliminating the "glitter" effect)
I think I would implement a subtle blur filter for the images at the back of the carousel, and organize it so it is easier to use.
The Flash carousel, while interesting, seems out of place within this traditional fixed site framework, though.
(carousels are more compelling in a liquid or full-screen layout. IMO)

The only thing I really like about this site is the use of Flash for the portfolio and Explorer sections; it's genuinely fun and interesting to interact with these elements, despite the flaws in the implementation.
The rest of the site is unremarkable, plain vanilla web design.

BTW, I tend to disagree with the sentiment that Flash is falling out of favor in preference to CSS or AJAX.
It might be more accurate to say that traditional HTML/CSS/Javascript developers tend to adopt AJAX more often than Flash, simply because it encompasses much of what they already know.
ie: It's easier than learning yet another scripting language and graphics app.

Flash is virtually the perfect WYSIWYG web design platform for artists that are willing to learn a little actionscript.
Flash has its own community of developers, and they are doing quite well with this technology, and it practically sells itself to clients.
I can't remember a client ever requesting an AJAX site, but I've recently fielded many requests for Flash.
Honestly, I can't keep up with the demand.

Nicolecat
Apr 22, 2008, 04:24 PM
Sure...flash is simply that...Flashy.

But test its ability to pull up a reputable site with adwords...
-Pull up google.
-type in 'Nike'

...you should pull up a list with www.nike.com being the first few listings.
(Note that Nike.com is a full flash website)

Now pull up google again...
-Type in 'sneaker'
-Type in 'tennis shoe'
-Hell...type in 'shoes'

www.nike.com is Nowhere to be found.

This is my 'perfect example' that though flash is nice...search engines can't find or validate the site as readily.

(Sure, Nike probably doesn't need to purchase those adwords...but you would think they should pull up considering shoes are their major source of income.)

Osarkon
Apr 22, 2008, 04:41 PM
Odd, the header's on the bottom on the first page, as noted.

However if you visit another page on the site, the header goes up to the top where it should be.

snickelfritz
Apr 22, 2008, 04:51 PM
Sure...flash is simply that...Flashy.

But test its ability to pull up a reputable site with adwords...
-Pull up google.
-type in 'Nike'

...you should pull up a list with www.nike.com being the first few listings.
(Note that Nike.com is a full flash website)

Now pull up google again...
-Type in 'sneaker'
-Type in 'tennis shoe'
-Hell...type in 'shoes'

www.nike.com is Nowhere to be found.

This is my 'perfect example' that though flash is nice...search engines can't find or validate the site as readily.

(Sure, Nike probably doesn't need to purchase those adwords...but you would think they should pull up considering shoes are their major source of income.)

This is an urban myth.
Flash sites can be easily optimized to work properly with search engines.
You essentially provide HTML or plain text for the search bots to index, and a structured visual page(the Flash content) for human visitors to see.
Humans will only see the HTML content if they disable javascript.

macsrules
Apr 22, 2008, 04:56 PM
It's a flash buffet. :D

Nicolecat
Apr 22, 2008, 05:06 PM
This is an urban myth.
Flash sites can be easily optimized to work properly with search engines.
You essentially provide HTML or plain text for the search bots to index, and a structured visual page(the Flash content) for human visitors to see.
Humans will only see the HTML content if they disable javascript.

Sorry...not an urban myth.
Nike is a large tennis shoe provider. Their website should pull up when you search for tennis shoes, sneakers, or shoes for that matter...and yet it does not, because the search engine can't decipher what the website is for (because of it's flash base).
The order websites pull up in google depends on the search engines ability to 'validate' that the website is legitimate...and not some spam website that is trying to get listed under a wrong header.

Do it...it speaks for itself.
Infact, try the same with other full flash websites.

Ultimately, if Nike ever wants to keep their full flash website and pull up #1 under those search words...they have to purchase those adwords.

Flash sites are just not the best idea for SEO (search engine optimization)...however, Flash pieces set into an html site work very well.
Best of both worlds...flashy and search engine savvy.

snickelfritz
Apr 22, 2008, 05:41 PM
I stand corrected; I think you;re right about Nike.
I even tried entering every keyword on their HTML stylesheet and it still produced no results.

Interesting dilemma:
Flash visuals are easy to sell to clients for big bux, and guests tend to enjoy the experience of browsing properly structured Flash sites.
On the other hand,
HTML is easier to index and search, but tends to fall apart, or render incorrectly in some browsers, and lacks the feel and robustness of a desktop application.

I guess AJAX is the solution.

stainlessliquid
Apr 23, 2008, 12:07 AM
All I know is that I come across FAR less flash sites today than I did 3 years ago. The only time Im forced to deal with flash is usually at a videogame or movie site. I havent seen a portfolio website made in flash in a really long time, it used to be considered a "must." Im also not seeing as many webdesign job postings with a requirement for flash experience.

Nicolecat
Apr 23, 2008, 01:52 PM
Yeah, the best way I can think of to describe it is...

Warning...analogy.
You can have the biggest, coolest, most spectacular store in the world...but what good is it, if nobody can find it. It's still the biggest and the best, but because nobody can find it...what good is it going to do for you're company?

I'm pretty sure that google is staying as cutting edge as they can be...and the way a search engine 'reads' a website is constantly changing (So people can't 'cheat' the system)...but for now, the nike website remains my classic example. :)

macgruder
Apr 28, 2008, 11:20 AM
The site looks like it was designed to please the client not the visitors. About the worst mistake there is.

pelsar
Apr 30, 2008, 11:10 PM
to be blunt about it...i have no patience for waiting around for some moving picts and images to stop moving so that i can learn about the company etc. Worse are the confusing menus: top/bottom where to look?

it looks like a first year design student did the home page...the inner pages are reasonable....

ChrisA
May 1, 2008, 10:30 AM
The company I work for got a new website today... I'm looking for a critique of it:

http://www.woolpert.com/

The flash, moving windows, complicated navigation, different fonts and confusing colors throws me off.. what do you guys think?

Am I over reacting?

No. the first thing I looked for was a way to skip the flash intro screen.
Why do web designer do this? Don't they know that people are looking for INFORMATION when they go to a web site. There is zero information content in dancing colored boxes and it is anoying that I can't turn it off

to be blunt about it...i have no patience for waiting around for some moving picts

Ages ago in high school I worked at a McDonalds hamburger place. What I learned there was how quickly people become upset if they are made to wait. Back then we did not cook to order. I found (was told) that if a customer had to wait a minute he be pretty upset. Five minutes and We'd have to get a manager to comp him is ordr and isue a coupon for a free lunch next time.

On the web it is worse. If I see something like a flash amimation I simply quit out of the site and so back to the Google search page and pick the next hit. I think people get a site about three seconds to see i it the what they want. Web surfers are even more impatent then 70's era fast food customers. So yu have three seconds to get you message across don't wate it with animation

Licensed to IL
May 5, 2008, 09:20 AM
I actually like the site. It looks to me to be a unique way to display data-driven information.

I think people in our industry just prefer to complain than to accept a "new" idea. God forbid a design actually stand out compared to all the tired convention that exists out there.

I think the GREAT thing about the web is the possibility of exploration and new ideas. If no one breaks the rules and everyone designs the same conventional sites than nothing new will ever happen or be discovered.

I think it shows that Woolpert, while I know nothing about the company is willing to take risks and be progressive rather than predictable. And I find that refreshing.

Chino
May 5, 2008, 09:44 AM
I personally like the site quite a bit. I think the use of Flash and the presentation of work will encourage users to click through and view much more of the company's work when compared to a standard page full of case study links.

Let me try and address a few of the negative comments thrown out about this site:

1. If you make your browser window ridiculously small you lose the navigation.
- Who the heck does that? Do you really use the internet that way when you're actually trying to explore a site and gather information or do you just do that when trying to break a site?

2. Loading times.
- I really didn't notice any lag on loading of the pages. No more than a site that uses CSS layout and positioning. Also, if this was such a concern with this site do you also get pissed off about having to wait 60 seconds on news sites that need to pull in targeted ads from multiple sources?

3. SEO
- A Flash based site can absolutely be optimized for search. Google even has guidelines for doing just that. Just because Nike doesn't do it (they don't have to by the way because they're Nike) doesn't mean its not possible.

4. Navigation
Anyone who can't navigate this site should be banned from the internet. I really had no difficulty finding information on this site.