online community for artists and designers.
At first view, this is a really nice-looking site. It has an appealing,
soft colour scheme offset with well-chosen graphics, and the content
appears solid and orderly.
The brown colour scheme is soft,
warm, and welcoming with reasonable tone. The main content area could
benefit from more tonal variation.
Navigation is too dispersed, and the
page lacks focus, which weakens the overall image.
There is definitely too much
space at the top of the page. At 800x600 resolution, no
content makes it onto the screen.
The natural imagery is lovely; the
site logo is elegant and just subtle enough, although it is weakened by
being low down on the page.
It's nice to see a strap line, but
"The Art & Design Community"could be more descriptive. There
are hundreds of art and design communities - what differentiates this
Colour & Tone
Although the decorative graphics are
minimal, the have more impact through the consistent page colour
There's not quite enough tonal
difference. The strongest darks and greatest contrast draws the eye to
navigation, instead of content. The base colour is too mid-tone.
Content boxes should be made distinctly lighter. Text is reasonably
sharp, and would be even more readable against a lighter content
The page has a problem with vertical
space and ordering. The empty space at the top of the page serves no
The tiny logo at the top-right is too
weak to have any claim to describe the site overall, and I don't know
why it's there.
The Artorg logo should definitely be
higher in the top-left, in order to dominate the page. Currently, it
looks like Artorg is a subsidiary of this rAs(?).
There is too much empty space under
the community nav bar.
'Latest threads' is badly aligned. It
reuses the same data (author, replies, views).
A) How relevant is this data to
B) It might be better to use columns,
which could minimise repetition and enable scanning of most important
data (title and author).
The login control does not read in a
logical flow order.
Username sits above Password, which
is okay, but then the 'Log in' button is to the right, below "Remember
me?". The natural order of dialogue would be:
- "I am X" (username)
- "I can prove it because I know
- "I do/do not want you to remember
these details" (remember me)
- "Enter" (log in button)
Why is "Remember me?" a question? I'm
not asking the site anything? It should be a command! If I want the
site to remember me, I should only have to instruct it to.
'Members 453' doesn't belong in the
'Welcome' panel. It's a property of the community, therefore it should
be encapsulated directly in the community's bounding box.
Why are there 2 different horizontal
navigations? The second one doesn't seem to be a subset of the first.
If it's all part of Artorg Community, the secondary navigation should
be clearly encapsulated inside the primary level's bounding box.
One effect of this duplication is
that there are 2 gallery links, and 2 forum links! This is totally
confusing. If we are to believe that we're looking at a consistent
site, it must project a clear and solid information architecture.
The link style in the community nav
bar is identical to the box headers in the rest of the page (bold and
white). If they're links, they should be visually identifiable as
links. Buttonising might work.
Top-level nav is ineffective. One
reason is that the text is too small and light, particularly against
the much bolder elements lower down. The nav links are so far spread
out to suggest (deliberately) that they're unrelated, as though they
are links to different sites. But they are
related, and they should be grouped to show that.
The icons in the 'Latest Threads' box
are obscure. Obscure icons is quite a common 'feature' on community
solutions. It's very hard to create icons that effectively convey a
message at small scale. In this case, the icons' extra clutter
outweighs any benefit, even for experienced users.
What does 'Forum leaders' mean, and
why is it in the 'Welcome' panel?!
The 'Guest Register' box in the
'Welcome' panel is weird. It's so out of place that it looks like
Click to view full size
Tip: When designing a logo, carefully
consider the merits of text-only, and whether a pictorial symbol is
likely to add value.
Words clearly denote meaning, as they
require hardly little mental interpretation, even compared to iconic
symbols. Our brains are used to picking out and interpreting strong
words, as they do so hundreds of times every day.
When the whole logo is a meaningful
word, the whole logo carries meaning. This is very economical, with a
high ratio of visual activity to value.
Standalone text naturally fills all
the space it occupies. Also, remember fonts are designed with visually
consistent weight and contrast, meaning much of the work to make your
design visually consistent has already been done for you.
Powerful for new brands
These logotypes have a lot to offer
new brands, mainly for their high recognition factor.
A great example of a text-based logo
from a new
brand. Says it simply, and with quality.
Established brands can fall back on
iconic symbols (e.g. McDonalds' golden arches / Halifax's 'X' / Blue
Cross-Blue Shield's emblem / British Airways' ribbon), as they have
invested a lot of time and money behind putting those icons in place.
New brands can not have that much
time and money invested from day one, so it is hard to make a symbol
carry much value for the consumer. In these situations the natural
meaning in words can be very helpful. A brand identity can always be
redesigned at a later date, introducing a new icon (e.g. BT-Cellnet's
What's wrong with symbols?
There's nothing wrong with symbols as
logos. The McDonald's M, Nike's swoosh and Apple's apple are all
powerful icons, which can stand alone. But they only have meaning
because of our long experience with those brands.
For new brands, or re-designed brands
that don't have high existing visibility in their markets, symbolic
logos can be weaker than word-based logos, because they do not have the
natural characteristics described above.
On the other hand, symbols can be
powerful when they are iconic, i.e. they make use of established signs
that represent something the viewer already knows and understands.
Iconic symbols are effective
cognitive shortcuts: such as scales representing justice, house
representing the home and family, umbrella representing protection etc.
Many of the most established brands
use either a text-based logotype alone, or a text logo and symbol logo
that can be used independently (e.g. Nike and Apple).
All logos are the trademarks and
copyright of their respective owners, and are represented here for
purposes of education.
Screenshot at 2/3 scale: Click to view full-size
The quickest gains can be achieved
here with a more compact, economical layout.
I've recovered a lot of the premium
empty space at the top of the screen, and made the content more
compact. I've also applied a grid format. This approach brings the main
content forward (nearer the origin), and arranges the secondary items
(login, search, latest threads, shoutbox) around a consistent axis.
The benefits of a simple grid are
that it makes the content appear simpler, and lets the user quickly
scan and identify the different elements in a sweep of the eye, rather
than zig-zagging around.
I've arranged the 'Latest threads' in
another grid, to reduce the amount of wordage on the screen. It has
also lost the 'Views' property, which is nearly always a pointless
feature - replies is a much better indicator of activity.
Both 'Latest threads' and 'Shoutbox'
are now in wider columnns, allowing more of the useful text to be
shown, and benefitting from more readable line length.
Overall, this design shows the same
content and features as the original, in almost 50% of the screen area.
I've combined the two navigation bars
into a single bar, removing the duplicates. The nav buttons are now
more closely grouped, and positioned directly beneath the site id (as
they all belong to the site).
Colour & Tone changes
The colour scheme and imagery are
largely unchanged. The main difference is in the content areas, which
are now on a lighter and less saturated background. This helps the
content stand out from the page background.
The main content area
(about/welcome/self-promotion) has a lighter background tone than the
secondary areas, which further increases the tonal contrast, attracting
'Latest threads' and 'Shoutbox' use
subtle changes in tone to differentiate rows, a convention which makes
easier side-to-side scanning.
I've rearranged the Login function
onto a single line, in the order of logical dialog flow.
I've also brought the Search function
onto the home page, rather than having its own page. Making search
instantly accessible is proven to increase its usage. Assuming there
are additional search functions on the other page, it is conventional
to describe them with an 'Advanced (search)' link.
It's important for any site or page
to state clearly what it is, so that the user knows when they're in the
right place or not. I've left the site strap line alone, and altered
the introductory paragraphs to include a permanent statement of purpose
and welcome, inviting the user to explore further.
I thought it would be nice to
showcase recent media content on the home page - what could better
describe an artistic community than its artistic output in the form of
The graphics are so nice, there's no
room for improvement. The only changes I've made are to lighten the
logo image, to bring it out from its background to dominate the page
more, and apply a larger, stronger font to the site strap line. I've
re-used the same font (AccentGraphicMedium) in the (graphical) section