A Site Review Of Gaslamp.org By James Brown of VirtualTint.com.
The first thing I notice upon entering is the title, and layout. If there’s one thing you want on the first page of a site, it’s to know what the site’s about well apart from the tags and search criteria. Gaslamp pulls it off well by having the discreet short line lingering unobtrusively yet clearly with the title.
As well as the quick loading title image, the approach to menu location is not something I’ve much come across in such a way before. That said, mixed with the largeness of the title and eloquently simple style throughout the page, its compliments the look only further.
I must not reject my own personal reservations. I believe that content is more important then design. Now I can tell that some will bribe the editor for my address and send me hatemail but let me go a little further yet. The content is there. Well yes its content granted, but did anyone read it? Well when I go to a site whether it be for criticism or interest, I go first as the end user. I want to know how a user who is actually looking for a similar site is going to use it in the end. Title, catch line, logo, menu and a bunch of text. I say bunch of text because what do you do if you are looking for a type of info on a site? You are naturally compelled to click a button or rather look for a specific heading in the menu.
Now we as designers and directors will obviously stop and stare for a while, but say you came to see what there is to do at the place while not on business or you get bored stiff in the room of your 5 star. You find the site, and immediately get hit in the eye by a very well arranged and simple menu. You see “entertainment” and what do you go and do? Naturally after seeing a boring bunch of text and a couple of barely loaded pics, you uncaringly hit “entertainment”.
So what’s there to be done. Frankly, I like the menu exactly where it is. But you still want the latest news and hot events to be noticed before the user clicks themselves into the next server. Well as I am a bit of Flash addict (which I criticise others for, ha) I’d just say “hay, chuck it in a scrollable textbox and lay the pics out a little more orderly underneath”, but maybe not. The more I look at it, the more I want to shrink the volume of content per section and place individual outlined boxes of titles and preview texts in a wider and more attracting fashion. Like a menu in its self yet content based and more eye-catching. I just don’t mix well with seeing a long and un-appetising strip of monotonous text amongst blankness when the menu is the first thing seen on loading.
Now. To the part where I get amused yet confused.
The structure of the central pages and contrast and compatibility in design for each type of content is something I rarely see without looking in a well designed mag. I like it. It keeps the user interested in the content at hand at each stage. A type of curiosity at entering new parts of the site. There is no need to make it more template similar than it is as the title and menu show that quality more than anything. The content has been laid out in a way which defines its self into its own criteria. Overall, i love it as for as you can throw a donut. Its new, well contained and cuts a clean line between its self and last years online cow market.
Something you notice about many pages with pics and photos on is that some pics just don’t work. They clash or you can tell they came from a holiday brochure. The ones chosen and placed Just fit. They’re not obtrusive, clashing or out of place. It compliments every inch. They show it would be attractive to me as a place for a multinational Business meeting yet also containing that bit of fresh life you always like to find in a place. As for using the navi system, what can I say. I personally don’t like small black text on colour.
James A Brown.
Director of new media.
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