posted on Oct, 26 2008 @ 12:47 AM
As an entry level graphic designer (with a little bit of experience on the matter) I will give my input on the interface / web site design of ATS.
Firstly, I think the 800 X 600 area layout design needs to be done away with completely. I recently attempted to convince someone of this just the
other day. Wide screen computer monitors are the standard these days and that trend will only continue. The 800 X 600 format was the standard when 15
inch square monitors was the mid range monitor format for new computers. Many web sites contend that the 800 X 600 standard is still used by many
people with 17 inch square monitors, but lets get with the times fellas. Do you want to be innovative, or obsolete?
But there is another reason why switching to a wide screen format web design makes a lot of sense for this web site traffic. Right now, your web site
is 800 X 600, but some of that space on the right is being used by advertizing, so, your actual workable space is smaller than that. It is obviously
constraining your design because you have way too much scrollable space on your pages that are not forum posts. Your Board home page scrolls for like
5 pages of forum categories. I think that you will find that for convenience sake most users of the forum use the hot buttons on the top of the
toolbar for the site. Meaning that they use the recent posts button much more often then they do the actual gate way buttons for the forums that they
want to get too. It is far too easy to use other navigator buttons to get to where your going verses scrolling down for five pages to search for a
particular forum home page. IE clicking recent posts and then clicking the religion forum button from someone else’s recent post instead of
searching for the forum home page button from the scrolling down the board home page. If your web format were more wide screen you would have much
more space to categorize and differentiate your many starting points from your home page.
As well, I think your home page is completely wrong.
Firstly, you have placed 4 recent hot topics in text format in the center part of the page. However, is it really why people come to the home page of
your site? These posts should be on the board home page of your site and they should be reduced in size a lot. There is very little reason to increase
the size of readable text on the web greater then 10 point unless it is a headline. But with 4 headlines in a square pattern like they are listed they
all compete for the same hierarchy of information slot. Instead of being informative, it is tiring on the mind because their proximity is too close
together, and because they are all the same color then they are all of the same importance to the mind. So, the reader feels compelled to sort the
information before absorbing it.
But most importantly, people do not come to the home page of your web site to find this information. People do not visit the Above Top Secret home
page to hind out what are the “hot topics.” This information changes far too quickly with the kind of traffic that you are getting. Instead,
people come to the homepage of your site to find our what Above Top secret is all about, not what is the latest forum post with high traffic at any
given time. Basically, the information on your home page does not follow the logic of your site traffic. People do not go to your home page to find
out what’s hot. They go to your home page to find out “What is ATS?” When people go to a forum, they usually go there with a purpose and intent.
That intent is usually very specific for each person, IE aliens for one guy, government for the next guy, and religion for the third. Showing these
people the latest hot topics on your home page conveys information that most people are not looking for at all, let alone looking for on your home
page. By all accounts, the Board home page should be the home page for the site, and the board home page might want to be the place that conveys what
topic is hot or not. From a marketing stand point, it is a chore to navigate your site in order to find out about ATS itself. Your home page should be
all about ATS as a company and a web presence, not about what particular topics are “Hot” at any given time. This is precisely why you guys get so
many requests from new forum members about, “What are the rules?” “Where do I go for this or that” “How do I do a certain thing in my
posts?” People have to ask these questions because the home page of your site does not convey hardly any clear pathways to this basic information.
And sadly, because of ingrained mental training, we, as web viewers, instinctively look for this information and expect it to be presented in a clear
manner on your home page.
Well this is enough for now, if you want more let me know.