Review of 3till7net (2)

 |  Interwebs, Review

Reviewed: Sarah
Site URL: 3till7.net

I’m having difficulty starting this review. Most reviews I start off with a quick summary of my first impression of a website — it’s hard to do that when you’ve been visiting a website for years.

Your new layout is not my favourite. I think the swirly zigzag pattern is fab — like a crazy 60s drug session (or so I’m assuming, heh) but the grey just doesn’t do it for me. I think the gradient divider and border could be made to match the header by using a darker version of any of the colours you’ve used. #6F686D is a dark alternative that might be worth trying.

(I’m going to be filling this review with blatant suck-up-y compliments: just thought I’d warn ya.)

Your site is incredibly functional. I noticed a while ago you started using big text which is great for those like me who’re blind as a bat (only minus that cool thing they do where they can ‘hear’ objects — I wish I could do that). Your link colour is fine for me, but the Juicy Studio Colour Contrast Analyser says there’s not enough contrast. It’s a groovy tool to play with. Your main navigation was immediately obvious and you even have a breadcrumb trail.

The content of 3till7 has got to be the main reason I come back — geeky entries and handy stuff about Ubuntu that has saved my ass on more than one occasion. When I did my first PHP project for my college work experience, it was one of your PHP articles that got me on track. Look at me now, eh.. says it all about the obvious quality of your tutorials I think.

The About Me page was a good combination of information and pictures keeping me entertained both mentally and visually. Always good to see a Terry Pratchett Discworld novel in a person’s favourites list, although Reaper Man is not my ultimate favourite (Monstrous Regiment is a great one — read that if you haven’t already). Good to know I’m not the only person that gets so deep into coding that the world could fall apart around us and we wouldn’t notice.

Your Image Generation in PHP tutorial is a handy dandy piece of knowledge to have, I wish I’d seen it months ago when I was fiddling with captchas. I hope your demo version for the PHP and Forms tutorial has validation of the input — you don’t want people inserting nasties in there. Regarding the line Hell, I don’t even have maxlength in any of the input fields!: I’d actually recommend leaving out maxlength. It’s the kind of thing that makes people think they’re secure but is so easy to get ’round. Check the length of fields server-side with other validation (e.g. if (strlen($input) > 15) { echo "error"; }) although I’m sure I’m trying to teach my Grandma how to suck eggs here.

Had a giggle at your Clichés of a Crappy Site article. Having recently seen people apply to The Quilting Bee using pixel/bitmap fonts on their entire site, I think I should start pointing people here. The point about sites working in all browsers is a current irritation with me. I’m seeing more and more websites that say “Best viewed in Firefox” where the webmasters don’t SEE the issue, and don’t see how this is identical to creating an IE only layout. I swear, we’re going backwards not forwards in the fight for compatibility (I wrote compatility first: really shouldn’t drink and review).

I have to say I love the way your site is organised for maximum click-through effect. Articles in your weblog being linked from your Writings page, archived, archived by category and listed under Possibly Related Posts — it’s like a massive interlinking orgy! Great SEO technique which I’m led to believe helps your rank in key search engines such as Google (though I’d mention that in case you didn’t know already).

Code-wise I expected your pages to validate — I know, I know, it’s rather presumptuous of me to expect your pages to validate perfectly simply because you’re a fellow geek, but there we go. Despite a few errors thrown up by the validator, I have found your website works impeccably in all of my browsers which is the most important thing. Nonetheless errors such as missing “/” in image tags (entry: photos of Todd and I) and unnecessary </p> tags (links page) are so easy to fix even if just for bragging rights.

I really don’t want to summarise this review already. I feel like I’ve added very little of any benefit and I’m kissing some major ass. If I’d waited about 15 months for a review I’d expect more than this.. but what can I say? I’m losing my touch, obviously. Anyway: your site is all things geeky. It’s accessible, usable, bold, beautiful, interesting and geeky — everything anyone with sense looks for in a website. Good work Sarah.

Jem Turner jem@jemjabella.co.uk +44(0)7521056376

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