Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site

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Hi, all

I've just created a website. It's goal is to present articles to
interested tourists on what to see and do in Virginia for those who are
interested in its history, from Powhatan Confederacy to modern times.
I use plain html.

I've designed it, as you'll see, so that a couple of paragraphs of each
article show up on the front page and then the reader has to click on a
link to be taken to the full article. I did this in an attempt to get a
low keywords CPC for my GoogleWord ad, which didn't work at all.

I have to say I like the design, but most of the people who go there
spend 0 seconds looking at it, so obviously I'm in the minority. I've
got a cool-looking banner in the works to make the top of the page at
least look 'glossily' professional (if that's the right term I'm
looking for...) , but as for the actual contents of the page, I'm in a

Any constructive criticism much appreciated.

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site wrote:
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Forget the banner, use a fancy font at 200% with plenty of fall back
fonts that are similar. Text should be text.

The home page is much too long.  It could be broken into 7 to 10 pages
and be more likely to get any portion read. It is overwhelming as it is.
Some surveys claim that people will read only 25% of what they would
read from a book, newspaper, etc. If you pint out that page and hand to
someone, how much of it will they read?

The images have no size set. The user's browser has to calculate the
space to allow for the image. While the page is loading the text on the
page jumps all over the place. To fully appreciate this effect visit his
page from a dial-up connection.

I only looked at the home page but those items will give you a good
start. Sorry, I almost forgot to say that the site does look good and is
a flexible design.

TK /
Still Having a Ball

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Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site wrote:
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Hello, friend

... for which I've tried to gently chastise you in my comments below...
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Well *I* think the visual design looks nice, although I'm one of those
folks who likes sites functional rather than slick (if I can choose only
one). Here are a few thoughts I hope you will find constructive:

The first thing that catches my eye (and anything else I'm foolish
enough to leave dangling in the water) is that damn ugle piranha! What's
that doing there? It makes the site look like something scientific
("read our story about the Amazonian basin during the monsoon season").

I don't care much for Google ads or Amazon (hey! now I get it!) ads or
any ads in general, but at least yours are neatly stacked to the left,
rather than strewn across the top of the page as at so many other sites.

I don't understand what the different logo thingies are: GW, GG, RW.

Rather than ending every lead-in with "Click here to read the complete
article with photos," how about something more content-specific, like,
"More of the interview with Wes Stone >>" or "More on the York Towne Tea
Party Re-enactment >>"? Others here will know more than I do, but I
think this might help both in usability and for SEO purposes. (I know
it's harder as Webmaster, but if it helps your visitors, it's worth it.)

2006" is a faint gray on a white background. If it's not supposed to be
"ghostly", you might want to darken it. Also, I believe you want to

Your markup is a little questionable. For example, you have a <table>
inside a <p>, but I don't see why. There isn't any paragraph there. You
should style your paragraphs of text as <p>, tabular data as <table>,
and headlines as <h1> or <h2>, etc. You're using table-based layout for
non-tabular data (it's just text and images), and you're not using CSS
the way you could (well, at *all*). Believe me, using CSS as soon as you
can will save you time from week to week as you try to maintain the site.

You haven't specified a doctype, so the rendering you get from various
browsers may...vary. And you might specify a Character Encoding to
iso-8859-1. Or something. Then when you use the validator, it can point
out the missing and misplaced tags in your code.

Sorry to mention the above couple of items when you're probably
thinking, "I'm almost done," because I'm talking about more work, but I
think if you care enough to ask on aww, you probably want to make your
site look as good as it can.

Speaking of CSS (wasn't I?) you've got <P><P> (with no actual text)
somewhere on your page, which makes me think you're trying to abuse
paragraph markup to generate a certain spacing. Using CSS, you can
create the spacing you want while maintaining semantically sound markup.

The last four items on the page (webrings and counters) look a little
tacky, but I already perceive that the page is more of an
amateur/volunteer effort, so it's not too bad.

Speaking of volunteers, am I correct in surmising that your name is
Caroline? ;-) Good luck with the effort. The site will grow on you,
(also) meaning in the sense that before you notice, your first dozen
pages will have become 50, then 100, then 200. Anything you can do now
(like CSS) to simplify things now will help you more in the future.

John Hosking

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site

Hi, John

Thanks for the detailed critique - will get to work on your suggestions
right away!

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site

John Hosking wrote:
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I just wanted to critique the critique and say it's nice to see one
that is both very useful and encouraging.


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This little gem is something I never thought about for my own sites,
for some reason. "Read More" links are a little stale, aren't they?
Thanks for the tip!

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site

arccos wrote:

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May I just interrupt your critique of my critique with my own critique
of your critique: Gosh, thanks!

Anyway, I figure I'd better be encouraging, because someday I'll get up
the nerve to ask for a critique of one of *my* sites! Plus, I'd better
offer something useful, because this OP is actually taking our advice
and implementing it! Who expected *that*?
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I'm sure I read it somewhere, but it could have been Web Pages That Suck
by Vincent Flanders back in the late 20th century. That would have been
before Google ruled the Earth. It may not apply for SEO purposes
(anymore). However, it seems like it'd be useful, if nothing else, for
folks using Web readers (as opposed to graphical browsers).

Thanks for the friendly post.


Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site

On 9 Nov 2006 13:44:47 -0800, wrote:

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Sounds great. Honestly, so I'll take a look with a view to providing
links to relevant articles from my own site...

Okay, It looks shit.

The title logo looks awful, and the combination of black blobs and
thick black borders on a white background appears as though a style
sheet or background image is missing.

Wheres the introduction?

Remember your lessons at school? Introduction, body, and summary. The
same holds for web sites. It's an essay.

The page is too long and  too disorganised.

The adverts/links/gimmicks at the bottom of the page serve only to
further devalue it. Lose them!

Erm, right I couldn't find anything of any value. Just editorials and
reviews. No data.

Sorry to be brutal. But a child learns to walk by being allowed to


Woe to him that willfully innovates, while ignorant of the constant.

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site wrote:

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Nice idea, and it looks nice visually.

Coding-wise though, it's pure 1990s. If you get yourself up to date
then you'll find the maintenance effort to be lower and the finished
product to be better.  Stick around in this newgroup, alt.html or
especicially ci.w.a.h to learn more.

I'm unsure about the two column layout. That's good on paper, not so
good on the web. Scrolling in just one dimension usually works better
in windows.

On the "list of articles" pages, then I'd like to see a one-para
abstract of each, not just a title. Again, this index page is something
that's easily generated automatically if you use modern techniques to
author the content pages.

For a site this big, consider using a CMS rather than hand-authoring
each page.

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site

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Scroll to the very bottom and do a CTRL-A.

If Google finds that hidden text you're dead meat for six months.

You have two <body> tags and untold validation errors:

Most are trivial.

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site

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AH...I'll fix that.  It wasn't supposed to be hidden text, it's just
that my default font color for links is white and so it didn't show up
on a white page.

Thanks to everyone for their comments. I'll try to pull myself into the
2000s, RSS wise!

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site

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Um....make that CMS.

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site

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or css


le singe est dans l'arbre

Re: Website critique - Virginia historical tourism site wrote:
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The home page is good.  Your approach will insure frequent updates to

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All pages need a paragraph or two on top.  You have a few with just

Also, you left off a link to your home page on them!  Makes it very
inconvenient to return to your home page.

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I have lived in Virginia for 30 years, but cannot relate at all to your
title: Ghost Guns.  It does not compute with me.  Also, normally you
would expect this type of site to be run by the Virginia government or
some type of non-profit organization as in .gov or .org rather than

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