Site Review: Solstice, Inc.

    May 15, 2003

What did DevWebPro readers think of the Solstice, Inc. Web site? Read on to find out…

Solstice, Inc.

The apparent success of the Solstice website for generating business is due more to their position in this niche market than to the quality of the site. As they stated up front, they haven’t done much to their site since its initial conception, and it shows. This is a complex site that appears to have grown “like Topsy”, with little regard for logical display of information. The only thing I can find to compliment is their use of alt tags on most of their images (which comes in handy for the image files which are missing).

The site contains so many errors it’s hard to know where to begin. There are the technical errors (the missing image files, 404 – file not found, JavaScript – parent.frames.left.location’ is null or not an object) as well as errors of content (prices missing for the TCP-7500).

Navigation is confusing. It’s difficult to know where you are when the site opens a new window for each section. The new window may have the navigation links down the left side – or it may not. It may have text links at the bottom offering to take you “Back to the Last Page” or “Back to Home Page”, or offering to take to a specific page (like the “PC Controlled CD Autoloaders” page. A site map would be very helpful.

There are many issues with lack of consistency. Sometimes the copy is centered (difficult to read a whole page of centered text), and sometimes it’s left justified. Sometimes the body text font is specified (what do users who don’t have Arial Narrow see??) and sometimes it’s left to default. CSS could really help out here.

Inconsistency in the content is also a problem. Sometimes you get specifications, sometimes you have to “click here” for them. Ditto with prices. It appears that they are using copy from the equipment manufacturers, which is fine, but they should also know the machines well enough that they could create some kind of standard layout to describe each category of equipment.

Many (but not all) of the pages require a horizontal scroll for users whose screen resolution is set to 800×600 or lower. The color scheme is jarring (too much orange!) and the graphics haven’t been optimized. The gradients in the logo don’t transition well, and the logo on the homepage has a problem with jaggies that makes the “e” in “Solstice” look like the number “8”. Their use of the horizontal rule is pass.

The homepage itself leaves one to wonder how it is organized. Are these new products? Featured products? Why are they there? And the counter at the bottom proclaiming “140,000+ satisfied customers this year” makes me wish I had their business (except it’s the wrong metric).

I would like to say something more positive about the site, but I can’t. They are in need of a total site re-design and should contract a professional to help them.

Carol Harkins

Regarding the Solstice Technologies site.

Far too many images on one page, Index Page scrolls down forever. Would be better for people who are not on Broadband Internet if the sections where split up.

The Meta Names could do with some work too, See below.


Your title is: Solstice CD Duplicators DVD Duplicators and CD DVD Printers

Your title length is good.

There are two keywords in your title. Good.

Warning: The word “CD” appears more than once in your title. Some search engines might skip your web page because of that.

Warning: The word “Duplicators” appears more than once in your title. Some search engines might skip your web page because of that.

Warning: The word “DVD” appears more than once in your title. Some search engines might skip your web page because of that.


The keywords are:

1. cd duplicators
2. dvd duplicators
3. dvd printers
4. cd printers
5. dvd printing
6. mac duplicators
7. mac printers
8. network on demand duplicators
9. Optical Disc Duplicators
10. business card publishers
11. business card cd duplicators
12. disc duplication
13. cd duplication
14. dvd duplication
15. cd recorders
16. cd writers
17. desktop publisher
18. cd recording software
19. tower duplicator
20. disc printer
21. cd label printer
22. ink-jet printer
23. thermal printer
24. color printer
25. dvd burner
26. pioneer
27. r-quest
28. bravo
29. composer
30. composermax
31. composerpro
32. composer xl
33. microtech
34. xpress
35. rimage
36. desktop publisher 4000
37. primera
38. aps2002
39. imageautomator
40. mediatechnics
41. trace
42. orbit
43. orbitpro
44. micro orbit
45. optical disc storage
46. back up disc
47. optical disc archive
48. jukebox systems

Tip: HotBot only takes the first 75 letters into account. You already use 685 letters so you should place the most important keywords at the beginning.

Warning: Don’t use every word you can think of as keyword. Search engines can penalize you for this by giving you poor rankings. Too many keywords can dilute the effectiveness of your keywords/phrases.

Warning: You shouldn’t repeat the word “cd” more than three times in your keyword list. Some search engines see the repetition as a spamming attempt so they won’t accept your web page.

Warning: You shouldn’t repeat the word “Disc” more than three times in your keyword list. Some search engines see the repetition as a spamming attempt so they won’t accept your web page.

Warning: You shouldn’t repeat the word “printer” more than three times in your keyword list. Some search engines see the repetition as a spamming attempt so they won’t accept your web page.


Your description is:

Buy professional DVD duplicators CD duplicators and DVD CD printers used by commercial service bureaus. Office network on-demand systems and high-volume duplication and storage. Automated standalone or PC controlled for all budgets. CD duplication dvd duplication, business card publishers and cd dvd printing for all data audio video and movie recording copying writing burning. Optical disc back up store and archive documents and files

Warning: Your description tag is too long for most major search engines. They might just skip your web page.

Your description contains 6 keywords. This is very good.


Keyword density in image alternative texts: 16.9 %. Many search engines take the keyword density into account so you should add more keywords to your image alternative texts if you want to improve your search engine ranking.


You have many words on your web page (about 701 words). This means that search engines have a lot of text to index, which is very good.

Magic 1170

I just did a really quick look at the Solstice site, and here are my initial observations:

Page layout is too wide – I’m not sure how wide it is, but it is wider than my “typical” browser width. The content does not wrap gracefully so I wind up having to scroll right to left.
The menu is UGLY and uses up far too much real estate.
The menu system is not consistently applied to all pages in the site. The following pages DO have the menu: (very poorly done – inconsistent spacing)
And these DON’T have the menu: – uses an alternative navigation scheme

Those are just the pages linked from the home page

They switch between using tables for layout and not – and the pages that do use tables don’t use them consistently

Their “hit counter” is broken.

The Solstice logo on the home page has a broken link attached:

The Solstice logo on links to a bigger copy of the logo – now that’s exciting!

What gives with opening a new window for each page? Very annoying! I typically keep a lot of windows open to facilitate fast context switching – having all these useless windows pop up is a real pain in the $@*. If I want another window to open, I can hold the shift key when I click.

Their PDF product slick ( is pretty nice (must have had someone else design it!) BUT – their customer base is likely to be comprised of some fairly unsophisticated users who may not have Acrobat installed on their system. At a minimum, they should include a link to the Acrobat download page so they can get a copy of Acrobat; even better, include the Adobe link and include an HTML version of the document so that the “less savvy” among the user community doesn’t have to figure out how to install anything.

Where did this black background come from?!?!?

All in all, there is so much inconsistency in this site that I almost feel seasick after flipping through the pages. FrontPage makes it so easy to come up with a consistent look and feel that I can’t understand why they worked so hard to make it so variable. If their website is their primary lead generator they should really hire someone to do a complete site overhaul! They would do well to put their catalog into a database and drive the site from there – it would make it easy to maintain and would also enforce the consistency they so badly need.

Ken Cline
A Forever-Home Rescue Foundation

Ok, new site same problems.

1. Not a flexible design.

By that I mean that the tables used are not set to 100% but some odd pixel amount. Just no attention to detail here as the pages must be horizontally scrolled at 600X800.

2. Pop-up a new window? Another no-no!!

Stick with one page at a time and only use new windows for External links. We see far too much of this proving the adage that bad press is ok too. (or they will jump off the cliff with everyone else!)

3. No online buy now (complete a-z store basket). Also showing that some people do not know how to do a job right or they will do anything for money.

4. FrontPage HoverButtonz! Wow, and I thought that I was awful with CSS buttons.

5. B-central counter?
Why? if you have proven you have FrontPage why would you need a external counter?

Although the content is layed out neatly, the pictures are good and there IS INFORMATION to be retrieved here. This site seems to have done by a newbee and trying every trick in the FrontPage arsenal. Sorry, but this site comes across as trite with the scrolling text and FP HoverButtons. AS the first page of the site is huge the customers may get inpatient with this site and go on to another, create a introduction page from the index.html page and show the fast movers with links to other sections or categories of items. Advise the author to get a free trial of MM’s DreamWeaver or find a Java addin for FP to make the buttons better. Or at least learn how to use FP to make site navigation using the programs built-in functions. Many people do not know how useful FP extensions are or what can be achieved with this program. And last but certainly not least, Use CSS to keep the site design constant, one thing no one likes are pages on one site that are not laid out the same (font headers etc can be set in one place not inside each page!).

Sight design is not just about putting up a HTML page with a few flashies, but also about seeing that all the pages look and feel ok. They really must feel good to great and work as needed without popup doohickeys or flashy gimmicks that make the site cheap.

I am sure someone is very happy to have this site up, now it is time to complete the mockup with real programming as in full ordering online functions to make this site useful as well as a online catalogue.

David W Stiebel

I was annoyed with having to move the page back and forth to read it, my browser is set at a resolution of 800 x 600.

The excessive usage of applets was not cool. I found that scrolling was impaired because my mouse would stop at each applet. I did right click one of them only to be brought to a text view of a poorly written ASP.

The graphics felt a bit too large and overwhelming – the kind thing that you find on children’s home page projects.

The damn thing looks like a bunch of banners and bad code – impossible to endure!

Technical Review:

A visit to the W3C website HTML Validator found a fatal error:

W3C MarkUp Validation Service
Fatal Error: No DOCTYPE specified!

A personal look at their code revealed:

Images lack “alt” attributes
Tables lack “summary” attributes

Mistakes made included:

<a <FONT SIZE=”4″>
<b> </b> in the wrong places

Unknown attributes used:

NOTE: The use of “marquee” is not W3C approved

Illegal use of proprietary attribute:

Scripts lacks type attribute

Character codes 128 to 159 (U+0080 to U+009F) are not allowed in HTML; these would probably be unprintable.

Sincerely – that site SUCKS!

Herbalistica Herb and Remedies Database from A-Z

A few thoughts:

1. The mouse over effect for the left navigation is done with a Java applet, which makes the whole site slow to load and doesn’t provide visited pages information to users. I’d scrap that for normal text links with some background shading to improve usability.

2. The site’s content is fairly keyword rich, which is a great start for improved search engine visibility, but to become visible for the more competitive terms they’ll need to find more quality inbound links from related sites.

3. Some of the pages on the left column open in new windows. It looks like they may have done this rather than carry their site’s navigation onto every page. This should be corrected.

4. A more formal contact form would probably help generate better-qualified leads.

Ed Kohler
Haystack In A Needle

I’ve just visited and wanted to share a few things I noted.

Main Page

1. No page background color – (my browser is set to gray)
2. Images appear too large. (Smaller initially leading to larger would be better.)
3. The Java main menu buttons seem resource hungry. (I’m using cable)
4. The Java main menu buttons open a new window. This can cause confusion.
5. No consistent navigational structure.
6. Links to .pdf files offer no warning or link to download reader.
7. The Java menu buttons used as headers give no indication that they are links.
8. The length of the main page appears too long and too congested.
9. At 800×600 resolution you must scroll right to view all of content.

Overall, the site offerings seem quite interesting, but the site appearance and layout does not make me want to go further into the site. The site can use quite a few enhancements especially in formatting the page layout.

Studio Deluxe International

Interestingly, this company sells a product that I may need to buy in the future so I found it was interesting to check into the web site. However, I don’t really know much about the product, unlike I assume most of the people who would go to that site, so my perspective might be a bit different from the majority of their customers. One thing that I noticed is that on the very first page they have a link that says, “Click here for prices” and when I clicked on it, it took me to a page that did not have any prices on it as far as I can see. It just lists products on sale. On the other hand, if I had stayed on the first page, I would have found products with their prices on them, so why are people being redirected to another page?

I also had trouble with the clickable menu along the left side of the page. The colors became distorted and hard to read due to the lack of contrast. Also, as a “newbie” to this field, I don’t understand the arrangement of the icons or what the differences are between them. I could use more explanation about all this. In general, I think that if I was in the market at the moment for any of their products, I would just call them up on the phone and talk to someone, rather than trying to figure out what it available and what I need by looking at the web site. Probably someone who is familiar with the products already would understand the site.

John Violette

Did I like this site, no.

I did not mind the fact it took 18 seconds before I saw anything, but professionally this is nonsense, a div id pop up could have loaded instantly over the page loading underneath and provided some kind of introductory at least telling why I was there and why I should stay, they may be a great company, but they did not make me feel that way.

Graphics and design – well, can you say throw up, orange and yellow are cool colors, but they did not work well some how on the page, the horizontal separation gifs, I hate horizontal separators in general for some reason, I not sure why, it’s just the feeling I get from them, something like I do not use the question mark in anything I write because it looks graphically stupid, also I like to pose questions as statements of the fact, at any rate when I use a horizontal line, I just make a table and position it where I want to, tables make me feel good, horizontal gif lines and hr lines do not.

To sum up, boring, graphically throw up – yuk, hr gif creepy, inept loading time, do they really need 30 different products to make copies, the could have told me what other options are available if I actually wanted to copy something 30,000 times, witch I do not, I am not coming back.

Jeff Johnson
Jetstream Technologies

Review of:

First off, your home page is way too long. I measured it, yep, I did. I measured 12 screens full of content x 10″ per screen height. Your home page is a record setting 10 feet tall. Wow! I wonder what the record for widest page is?

1. don’t load up a new window everytime you select an option from the menu
2. display your menu on every page. Consistency is key for comfort for your viewer.
3. displaying your text “screen width” is no good. No one wants to read mile wide sentences.
4. blah, blah, blah… nobody reads… point form…get to the point… show lots of photos.

Marc Archambault
Northshore Developments

I always enjoy checking out the sites you pick for review, but this one crashed me immediately. Better luck next time.

Alaska Cards

All of the links on the left side of the page open in new windows. Very annoying! The initial page is way too long w/out any links back to the top of the page. Recommend creating a stylesheet to make the text a little cleaner. Something with a sans serif font.

Rob Rose

How very….uh…Frontpage…yep, its Frontpage. I used Frontpage…once or twice in 1998 or 99. Frontpage looks like, well, Frontpage. You can’t deny that look. That horrible, horrible look. What do they sell? DVD and CD burners? Don’t remember…but I do remember they used…Frontpage.

David R. Williams
Killer Asylum

I’m using Mozilla 1.3 final and this site locks it up every time. I’m pretty sure it’s a Java app on the site load. In any case, you cannot call this site web friendly at all.

(and again, later)

Once again we have a browser compatibility problem. When I tried to load it on Mozilla it took forever to get through all the applets. Then it crashed. Worked ok on IE and Opera, but not Netscape or Mozilla.

John Whitling
Alliance Millsoft

This site is rather bland in appearance and needs a new facelift to in order to attract and keep your attention. As for getting around it is certainly user friendly in that regard. Overall I would rate it 5 out of 10

Lou Barry
Stukely Studio

Horrible, horrible website it looks like his grand mother designed it for him….

I did not like anything about this .COM, very poor design and i bet is probably costing them sales.

David Montalvo
Unreal Web Studio Corp.

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