Review of melancholy-aura.net

Reviewed: Elizabeth
Site URL: melancholy-aura.net

I am reviewing what I assume is your default skin; “A Special Hiding Place”.

Gosh, another site that seems to be aimed at those running high-speed connections. Slowly, I see a delightful photograph appear in front of my eyes. Despite the pointless ‘line’ effect you’ve added to it, it gives the website class and elegance. It’s a shame that the top and bottom images together come to over 300Kb. On dial-up, you’re looking at a large waiting time for your visitors which is going to turn people away.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Despite popular opinion, slicing your images does NOT decrease your loading time. The size of all slices in total is often around 8Kb (depending on the original file size and amount of slices) more than the un-sliced image. Not only that; more HTML is needed to generate each separate image which adds to the total page size. Added images such as animated counters and your ‘preview’ images for your individual sites don’t help loading either.

Your text, headers, content table, background colour, etc don’t go with the photograph at all. I see the photograph and envisage mellow greens or pale yellows. The colours you’ve chosen look more like a sea-blue. Is there any particular reason why you’ve chosen these colours? They don’t seem to be taken from the photograph at all.

Your headers seem to be ‘plonked’ on the page. There much bigger than the text and offer no decoration or anything which can interest the eye. They disrupt the flow of the page. It seems like you’ve added them for the sake of adding them, not because they fit a purpose. Make them a little smaller and use the margin: 0px; CSS code to close the large gap between your headers and the paragraphs.

The links are a slightly darker colour than the text, and have an underline on hover – this is practical, well done. You also have a short sentence mentioning where the navigation is in your introduction; another practical feature. My only suggestion regarding your navigation is that you change “main page” to “home”. Some people may not grasp that main page and home mean the same thing. I may decide that one page of my site is most important, so it is the main page, yet the page I picked might not be the index. Yes? Alternatively, you could give each of your navigational links a title, this would also help those who’re confused about what “the room”, etc mean.

On your “sites” page, you’ve used two “>” next to “Current” and “Projects” yet four next to the others. I understand why you might not want the text “Current” to stand out as much, but why only two next to “Projects”? Either way, the repeated “>” looks untidy, and would be just as effective with one. All “>” should be replaced with “>” so it displays the symbol correctly in all browsers. You can learn more on the correct display of HTML entities at the w3schools website.

The method in which you display your sites – alternating sides – is quite ‘funky’ to look at, but I think it’d look better if all of the buttons were aligned to the left. This would give your site a sense of consistency.

Your personal pages are of average quality. Some of them are quite pointless and seem to be content fillers more than anything. Some of the pages could be combined (”Basic 411″ and “Random Facts” for example) to save space. This would also reduce the amount of links you have listed which would then be less likely to ’swamp’ your visitor. I know that if I visit a website in my spare time, I prefer to see a long page of content than several mini-pages, because it wastes time clicking ‘back’ and a new link every 30 seconds. Your link to ‘Erika’ under your “Web Resume” is broken; she’s moved to a new site.

As with your personal content, your site-based content could probably be grouped up too. “Links” and “Splash Stuff” would be better combined, and “Hosting”/”Hostees” could be combined too. As I mentioned previously, so many links to various content pages on one page is off-putting. “Do I really want to spend my time browsing all of these links?” is the question I’d ask myself.

Your English is poor. After a brief look, there’s no massively visible mistakes (like u instead of you, etc), but it’s clear that you tend to use commas a lot of the time when they’re not actually needed. I am guilty of this myself. Just remember to read the sentence back to yourself and see if you actually need to pause for breath where you’ve put the comma. You also tend to repeat words a lot, such as “really really” – this is irritating and disrupts the flow of a sentence. Moving on; after a more in-depth look at your pages, these were the mistakes I found:

Page Paragraph Typo Correction
sites_personal.php 4 definately definitely
sites_misc.php 1 intrest interest
sites_misc.php 1 go reinterested rediscovered my interest
sites_misc.php 4 seperate separate
sites_projects.php 1 (twice) Embarassing Embarrassing
me_azonme.php ‘a’ ethncity ethnicity
me_azonme.php ‘a’ offense offence
me_azonme.php ‘b’ becuase because
me_azonme.php ‘c’ haven’t gotton a haven’t had a
me_azonme.php ‘d’ neccessary necessary
me_azonme.php ‘f’ more funny funnier
me_azonme.php ‘h’ haboring harbouring
me_azonme.php ‘l’ somethine something
me_azonme.php ‘l’ wierd weird
me_azonme.php ‘l’ emtionless emotionless
me_azonme.php ‘m’ of of favorite anime from my favorite anime
me_azonme.php ‘t’ becuase because
me_azonme.php ‘t’ mantain maintain
me_azonme.php ‘u’ (twice) emtions emotions

There are more mistakes, mostly the same ones repeatedly. If I were to list them all I’d be here forever, so I’m just going to remind you to constantly spell-check you’re pages as your writing them. Most word processing software (such as MS Word) have built in spelling/grammar checks. You could copy and paste your text into one of those programs and it will check your pages for you. Well presented pages with decent English benefit users and make you look more intelligent.

Your coding is pretty good. However, I don’t understand why you’ve got the XHTML ‘html’ declaration but no doctype? If you want to code your pages in XHTML, add this doctype to the top of every page above everything else:

<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd">

You then need to take your CSS coding and place it into an external stylesheet, removing any HTML (such as <style>) as you do it. If you’re unsure about external stylesheets, you can follow this tutorial: external stylesheets.

There’s a background colour specified using HTML; this is incorrect under the XHTML doctype. Simply use CSS. Instead of <body bgcolor="AFC9C1">, you should add background-color: #AFC9C1; to the body section of your external stylesheet. Also incorrect under XHTML is the background="background.gif" attribute in table rows. Instead, you can use CSS again. Simply add style="background-image: url(’background.gif’);" in place of the background="background.gif". Don’t forget to replace “background.gif” with the correct image path.

The last error I can see is a <p> tag surrounding your table. Remove this; it is incorrect. If you want the table to stand out away from the browser top/bottom, you can assign a margin to either the body of your CSS, or the table. To assign a margin to the table, first give it an ID (<table id="table">
#table {
border: 0px;
margin: 25px auto 25px auto;
width: 600px;
padding: 0px;

}

This eradicates the need for HTML in your table tag at all. Most of the CSS is pretty self-explanatory. The margin tag is a bit more complex – we’ve accounted for all of the margins (top, right, bottom, left) in one go. You can read up on this at the w3schools.com CSS help website.

To summarise what I’ve said: your site is pretty average. The layout is good, but doesn’t jump out at me as stunning. The line effect you added to it is pointless, and detracts from the original beauty of the photograph. Your spelling needs work and you should always try to run your things through a spell checker. Your coding keeps the site together. If you were to fix the errors I mentioned I’m sure you’d be able to look into validating your pages; this would be a great achievement. I was put off by the links on the “resident” and “room” pages, I feel you should combine some of the pages, or compress the links together so your site doesn’t feel so overpowering. All in all, I didn’t mind browsing your pages. It’s not a bad site, but it hasn’t got the wow-factor that most look for. Keep working on it, you’ll get there.

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