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Review of

 |  Interwebs

Reviewed: Anne
Site URL:

Your site immediately reminded me of David Dickinson. You’ve probably never heard of him – but if you look him up on Google images, you should see that he’s a badly tanned, bright orange antiques specialist that unfortunately appears in lots of daytime television here in the UK. This is not a good first impression. I’m all for using a new or fresh colour which brightens up the site, but you’ve gone overboard big time. The orange needs to be broken up with something other than black to stop it looking bland.

I am pleased that you’ve tried to take a new approach to the “two column with sidebar navigation” look, but I personally don’t think it’s working. The links run into each other because you’ve not attempted to break them up with anything, and because the navigation box stops at the top, there’s an unsightly gap all the way down the page which could be taken up by content text.

Your layout, although clear in its presentation, is nothing new. I think you should aim to use something a little more unique than Harry Potter in your next layout; maybe customise a (free) stock photo or create something of your own in a graphics program. Preferably something that doesn’t involve celebrities, anime or Harry Potter.

On to the content… I’m a bit disappointed that neither your index page or blog have been updated since mid/late March, but I am aware that “real life” gets in the way sometimes. However, if you’re not going to be around it’s often a good idea to leave a little note to let loyal visitors know what’s what.

The fast facts page is unnecessarily spaced out, and could be placed at the top of the autobiography to save space. This would also stop users from having to click, go back, click, go back, click, go back – you get the point?

Your Random Facts page is virtually empty, and therefore pointless. If you want to plug your livejournal, do it – but don’t force visitors to visit a page which they think will provide them with content which is then a disappointment. This is likely to frustrate visitors, particularly those with poor concentration, which will cause them to leave. This goes the same for “In a Theater Near Me” which is equally deserted.

Resting In Peace in your Sitely Matters section mentions content you’ve removed because you thought it pointless. If the pages are pointless, why create an entirely different page just to “remember” them with? This is another useless page which is making my blood boil. At this point – if I were not reviewing you – I’d have started pondering the possibility of how many more of your pages are this crap and would have left. This doesn’t leave me feeling great about your site which means it’s unlikely I’d pass the word on about it. Positive word-of-mouth feedback is one of the quickest ways to gain new visitors, and maybe even new friends.

About Crash’D and Current Layout would be better off on one page.

I don’t “do” judging writings/art/etc, so I’m not going to critique your “Mun Productions” section. However, I would like to say good work on having them in the first place. While not everyone will be interested in these things, those who are will enjoy your site more.

The entire miscellanious section is pointless.

Most of your separate links pages are limited to 3-4 links – why don’t you combine all of the pages to save visitors doing more of that click, go back, click nonsense?

Browsing around your website I see a handful of references to valid coding, as well as the result of “Standards Geek” on quiz created by one of my reviewers, yet looking at your coding I see various chunks of code which go against every recommendation the W3C have tried to uphold with the XHTML doctype. I think this site proves that even so-called valid coders can get it wrong sometimes.

Let’s start by looking at your layout image. Or should I say images? For some absurd reason you deemed it necessary to slice your top image AND ’store’ it in a table. Firstly: slicing images does not reduce the loading time of a website. Although the slices may appear to load quicker, the total physical size of all slices is usually always more than the unsliced image. Next: tables are for tabular data. You know how to use <div>s with corresponding ids/classes, so why the table?

Next – your fascination with line breaks (<br />) – why? Line breaks are designed to break up text INSIDE paragraphs, yet you’ve used them to add space between headers and paragraphs, between two paragraphs, and heaven knows what else. The paragraph tag has a bottom margin by default, which means you don’t need to insert a line break between the end of one paragraph and the start of another.

Why did you skip out h3 and h4 in your stylesheet?

You seem to be using an awful lot of <span>s to customise the look of your page, yet there are perfectly good HTML tags which will do this for you? Just because <b>, <i> and <u> have been deprecated, doesn’t mean there aren’t alternatives. You can use <em> to emphasise a peice of text (which has the same effect as <i>), as well as <strong> (which has the same effect as <b>). There are no alternatives to the <u>; this was deprecated because underlined text looks a link and could therefore confuse a visitor.

Your stylesheet has a lot of superfluous coding, things that could be removed or reduced. padding: 0px 0px 0px 0px; can be simplified to padding: 0;, and
margin-bottom: 0px;
margin-right: 5px;
margin-left: 5px;
margin-top: 12px;

can be reduced to margin: 12px 5px 0 5px;. Font style properties can also be combined:

font-family: verdana, sans-serif;
font-size: 9px;

..becomes font: 9px Verdana, Sans-Serif;. Similar bits of coding in different elements can be combined to reduce the amount of lines you have to write. For example, all of your headers have the property font-family: "garamond", serif; – instead of writing that line out three times, you can separate the main elements with commas, then write that property underneath:
h1, h2, h5, h6 {
font-family: “garamond”, serif;
} will show you which properties can be compressed. If you get in the habit of combining code, you will reduce the space you use, making it possible to purchase a smaller package if/when you ever get your own domain.

These are just a few of the things you should have looked into when you decided to take the step towards standards compliancy. Validating a page is more than just a status symbol – it should mean you have clean, efficient coding. Working towards the Strict XHTML doctype instead of the Transitional will help you clear up crappy coding.

Your website isn’t a bad website. You have content which is generally well presented and well written, even if some of it could be removed. Your layout, while quite bland and over-bearing is not hard to use which is always a plus. If I were to think of one word to describe your website I’d say “average”. Average content, average look, average coding. You need to think about making your personal site more personal, and less generic. Improvement is not as hard as it looks.

Jem Turner +44(0)7521056376

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