Shaddow Domain Peer Review – Theme Has Potential But Site Needs Tweaking…

    June 18, 2003

Site theme has lots of potential. The merchandise is really cute. That’s why I’m taking the time to reply. But…

I’m hating the red outline on the text. I looked at the site in netscape 4.7, and the red didn’t show up, and it looked a whole lot better. Remove the red text outline. Make the content text smaller and more uniform. I hate text sizes that are all over the place, and too big. I don’t like the red text at the bottom, it’s too hard to read. Make all text white. Red accents only. The navigation can stay a little large and bold.

Put the logo at the top of the page, and descriptive, introductory site-descriptive text underneath it. Put the skull on the very left, and center the logo to the right of it in the remaining space. Make the logo smaller.

Use some left justification on the text, and use some frames and columns to arrange the content on the page in a more cohesive ‘mosaic’ manner. I hate pages that go down and down and down, with centered text and banners. It looks very amaturish, wastes space and wastes time.

What’s with the picture of the ceiling? It doesn’t show me anything? Find a better image to represent the store and merchandise. Maybe a picture of the owner or some attractive customers (or paid models)–preferably using models/people of the desired target demographic– all dressed in goth holding or using (or maybe abusing) the merchandise in an appropriate setting. Goth model(s) in a hot tub with the goth rubber duckies, holding the goth glasses, drinking something red, surrounded by lighted candles and a little dry ice smoke-effect would be cute. You could keep it fresh and interesting by having several pictures rotating with each page load, or just change it periodically to match the seasons. Soften the edges of the picture(s) so it blends a little at the edges instead of being such a harsh contrast, but the picture itself should be bright enough to stand out prominently. Human faces on a site help to sell, and generate a human connection. That’s what will inspire some trust.

Keep the navigation menu on the left–I really like the crosses. But PUT IT ON EVERY PAGE. Be consisent with the menu. Try to be consisent with the page layout on all pages. How about just one skull in the corner, instead of reapeating it down the page. Try repeating just the brick instead. Put the menu under the skull, over the repeating brick.

Include an “add to cart” button on merchandise, so people can feel they can keep shopping, and not committing until they say so. I believe Paypal now has that feature.

Arrange merchandise into at two columns instead of one massive long and centered column. Maybe even break it up into multiple pages with a “continued” indicater at the bottom. A shopping cart catalogue script might be able to do this effectively–there are some inexpensive ones out there I think. Repeat navigation menu on merchandise pages, with merchandise in a table to the right of it. Lose the inner borders. Insert image into cell (top, left position), and wrap text around it (left justified). Standardize the merchandise image sizes–it will look much better than having random sizes. I don’t like the double-line framing effect on the tables. Single line would be better.

Use the space under the navigation menu for extra comments, banners etc, where possible and appropriate, instead of continuing down on the page forever. Front page could probably be arranged in three columns (one larger column in the middle for main content. Smaller items, like banners, newsletter sign-up, guest-book, counter, stuff like that tucked into the smaller columns, maybe framed where appropriate.

That’s my 2 cents… sorry to be so brutal, but keep in mind, I do generally like the site theme and the content–even though I’m not the target market. I’d just like to see it done better. Good luck!

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