The purpose of Marios Tziortzis Personal Site (http://marios.tziortzis.com/) is to promote his work, his photography, and to claim his space on the Internet.
I’m going to review this in my ordinary fashion, with my initial experience fully written followed by my suggestions for improvement at the end of the post.
Hello, My Name Is…
The first thing seen on marios.tziortzis.com is the banner proudly displaying Marios full name. This is generally the best practice for a website (displaying the name of the site in the top left of the page), but there is one problem in this instance. “Marios Tziortzis” is not a common, easy to remember (or say) name for me.
It’s a problem that can’t really be avoided given the domain, but choosing an easy to remember, easy to pronounce, easy name and domain is a part of the users experience, therefore should be considered.
That set aside, I quickly identify three very important elements that I expect to see at a blog: Navigation, Search, and RSS.This must be a blog, and a personal blog given the name and description in the banner. This is probably geared towards friends, family, and people with similar interests to Marios.
I quickly skip over the masthead and some photos as my eyes immediately zone in on the first post header. It’s a BIG header, which I typically like. They call attention to themselves, and there is no question as to what they are. Better yet, it’s a different color and type face than the content of a post giving them even more prominence.
Posts are complimented with thumbnails that help describe what they are about. The post I see at the time of reviewing is called “Voice of Shenkar – Heroes related post with videos” and there is a thumbnail of the Heroes logo to the left of it. I don’t read the whole header, but I quickly match the Heroes in the post title with the Heroes in the thumbnail. It must be a post about Heroes.
I’m not ready to commit myself to reading a post quite yet. Instead my focus is diverted to the right of the page where I see a quick blurb About the author and a Twitter status for Marios. I sort of scan through these just to confirm that this is a personal portfolio site of Marios. He’s a part time developer. I decide to look around a bit more.
The top of the page has some pretty photos, and I take interest in them next. They’re larger than other images on the front page making them seem important. They have titles too which are slightly confusing. At this point, I have no idea what they are, perhaps featured posts? Maybe they are photographs he’s taken?
I have no way of knowing what they are, but they’re pretty enough for me to click and find out.
Clicking on one sends me to a page of the same photo blown up to a greater size. This page feels more cluttered than the front page, but I get the idea that these are photos Marios has taken himself now that I’ve visited this link.
It’s a bit hard to tell if I can navigate through Marios other photos at the start. I see a Previous and Next link, but for a photo that is a part of a gallery it seems to lack conventional gallery navigation. The first thing I look for are thumbnails of other images in the gallery that I can use to navigate around. I find myself wishing that there was a better way to navigate through the photos (whether it be related photos from a set, a full list of thumbnails, more prominent navigation).
It works, it just isn’t as intuitive as a traditional online album.
My next move is to the top navigation where I click Photography to see some of Marios other works. The resulting page is MUCH more user friendly and intuitive than the single photo page. There is a large gallery of thumbnails, and I can navigate through all of the photos by page underneath them. It’s intuitive, it’s what I’m used to. A condensed version of this on a single photo page would make the single photo pages much easier to use.
Now that I see the full album, I also have a sense of were I am in the album in relation to the full album when viewing single photographs. It’s sort of like having a physical presence in a real life photo album.
I look for a way to organize the photos (there are about 20 pages) but I don’t find any categories, album, or tag sorting. Later on, I found tags, but its hidden in a huge block of text. I typically don’t read all the text on a page, especially if it’s a page about photos.
Next I view Marios work. If my intent is to someday hire Mario, this is probably where I’d look first.
Unfortunately, this is a very difficult page to navigate. All of Marios selected works are shown on one page, vertically, with some links at the top of the page to navigate you to that kind of work (on the same page). For anyone interested in scrolling through a specific kind of work of Marios, they are going to have a very difficult time parsing the information on the page.
Archives, About, Contact
I view the archives to get an idea of how often Marios posts at his blog, and how long he’s been around. The archives are very easy to look through, and very easy to use. The archives are quite big, and do require scrolling. If Marios continues to blog, he might make his users reading easier by shortening the length of the archives (or separate them into pages).
Marios has a great About page that clearly explains who is is, what he does, and the purpose of the website. He also explains how he can be contacted (through several mediums). The about page also has some nice information about his work, photography, and the site for people interested in learning more.
The contact page has a very easy to fill out form to get in touch with Marios. It’s very familiar to me. He also lists his email address for people who would rather send a direct message.
I finally get around to viewing a few posts on the blog. It’s not that this is the last thing I typically look for, I just hadn’t connected well with any of the first posts I saw on the blog.
I saw “Tips for new Mac users (Part II)“, and being a new Mac user I was inclined to click. It’s a bit hard to read the text at the top of the post because of the post background, but it’s bearable. The post is written in a way that is very easy to read. There aren’t huge blocks of text to plow through, it’s condensed writing that doesn’t waste time.
Some related posts are shown at the bottom which is nice. I also see some tags for quick organization of posts.
Comments are the traditional style which is great. The are nicely laid out on the page, use a form that is very typical of what you usually see on blogs, and even support gravatars. Marios comments are slightly different from other users making it easy to pick him out in discussion.
The site search is a bit difficult to see. It lacks contrast. Consider using darker text, and adding a search button to make it more obvious how to use the form.
This is a White-On-Black site, where as Black-On-White is typically easier to read. I don’t see this as a big problem, and it doesn’t bother me. However, in the areas where there is a multi-color background image behind the text, I have a difficult time making out the text.
It’s very easy to distinguish between the primary and secondary content, but one of the headers in the sidebar is a bit confusing. When writing page content, it’s important to use titles that immediately connect with viewers and don’t make them ask more questions. The “Sightseeing” header does not tell me what it’s about. I might presume they are more photos when in fact they are outbound links to other sites.
The images at the top of the page don’t clearly tell me what they are for at first. It may be wise to label these images.
It should be more obvious that I can organize photos in the gallery by tags. Currently the link to categorize photos by tag is hidden in some page copy. It would be much better if this were a more prominent link. On single photos, the tags should also be made more obvious. Other conventional photo album browsing methods should be taken into consideration as discussed above.
Currently, every page on the blog has 3 images taking up a bit of space at the top of the site. It might make more sense to just show these images on some pages and not others.
The title tag for the front page is a bit non-descriptive. It could be improved upon. Pages on the rest of the site seem to have good titles and meta descriptions which is great for search results and bookmarking.
The pages are a bit large in size. This may or may not affect users depending on connection. If the audience is largely 56k users, it should be condensed. If it’s mostly high-speed users it probably doesn’t need much changing.