A Site Review Of Gaslamp.org By Kera McHugh of Time4SomethingElse.com.
My initial impression of the homepage was “hey, that’s pretty nice lookin”… then i clicked to “history”, having read that it was one of the major attractions… and although it didn’t seem the least bit connected to the home page, design wise, i still quite liked the page itself… and then i clicked “dining”
1. The impression the site makes on visitors. Is it fun, cosmopolitan, hip, exciting and vibrant or is it outdated, uncreative, ten years ago or whatever, and what should we do to bring it up to date? Keep in mind we are a tourist destination, so we need to cater to shopping, dining and nightlife, plus an older crowd who simply visit the Gaslamp for walking tours to learn about history and the architecture, as we contain ninety four historically significant buildings.
my initial impression of the homepage was “hey, that’s pretty nice lookin”… then i clicked to “history”, having read that it was one of the major attractions… and although it didn’t seem the least bit connected to the home page, design wise, i still quite liked the page itself… and then i clicked “dining” and was completely thrown off by a third, altogether different, look & feel.
clicking through the rest of the pages, i see where the consistency is, but in reference to the owner’s comment “is it outdated, uncreative, ten years ago or whatever”, i think it looks like a lot of other “hip, fresh, young” sites out there, and that the look on the homepage is much more suited to their target, content, and goal of being cosmopolitan and hip while still appealing to the older crowd looking for history. Perhaps incorporating a watermark or two of the great architecture into the homepage would give it that extra depth and subliminal content from the outset.
took me three or four visits to notice that there was more than just a splash on the home page… might want to make it more obvious that there’s more below the fold so that doesn’t go to waste. (that’s at 800×600 – yeah, i know… 1024 is getting more and more popular, but i’m trying to keep my eyes healthy, thanks… and squinting at my screen all day just ain’t gonna happen)
i didn’t get a very compelling impression from the site – for all the “hipness” of most of the pages, i found the inconsistent layouts distracting, it looked unfinished. Now, you see, i don’t have GENEVA on my computer, so i see your site in MS sans serif, because it’s listed before Arial… perhaps that’s why it looks unfinished to me… it’s not a very attractive font, and doesn’t go with the header… You might want to change the order of the font list in your font tags, and perhaps switch Geneva to something more standard.
2. How can we make all the pages on the site more cohesive (design wise), so that they look like they all belong on the same web site?
i really like the colour palette on the home page- might go with a slightly richer purple to complement the raspberry a bit better.
obviously keeping the same palette throughout the site is the first step. although the existing header on MOST of the pages is all the same colour, the changing background colours disturb me. it’s too much contrast, too much difference from one page to the next.
although the black background works on the home page for drama and effect, i wouldn’t suggest it for the rest of the site -but a black header bg, or 40px wide black margin wouldn’t go astray. then i’d stick with white, or maybe a very light grey for the body background… something that will not be overbearing over and over again, and that your older clientele will both relate to and be able to read – as reverse type can get hard on older eyes very quickly.
navigation is of course going to be your biggest challenge and most important element – i think the site lends itself well to horizontal nav – and no dropdowns… except maybe a single quickjump or something… i think i’d prefer to see something a bit dynamic with the main nav links on every page, and then content relative subnav directly below it – horizontal again, in text links… clearly identified as being subnav of the relative main link.
similarly to the existing pages, i’d say you could create identifiable sections of the site – dining, entertainment, etc – with a unique coloured header image for each… but maintain the same background colour for ALL pages. Of course, make sure the unique colours fit into the palette of the overall site – http://www.colormatch.dk/ is a great tool to create your palette.
that’s my 2 cents – Canadian!
kera mchugh somethingelse design+production
http://www.time4somethingelse.com – yeah, i know, it’s time for my OWN overhaul. it’s coming…
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