Elite By Design is, at first glance, a very monochrome site. When I first look at it, nothing instantly leads my eye. I am not immediately sure where I am supposed to be looking. I notice the Subscription button right away, mainly because it is the only color on the site. The next thing I see is the Web Design Tuts Button. If I click on home, it transports me directly to what looks like a blog section. It’s hard to tell because there are so many ads that I don’t get any content at all above the fold. I have to scroll down to find more. I scroll down to a blog entry. Just one, with comments below. Have I hit the home page for a blog or have I been taken to just one article?
As I scroll down past the article I see a widget that lets me find similar articles. I am a fan of these because it allows users to get deeper into your blog without having to navigate too much. Below that we have an Ad for Premium WordPress Themes, and then a button that allows you to share with social bookmarking sites.
After that comes the comments section. These are pretty standard but a bit bulky.. condensing them a touch would make this section less cumbersome. Below the comments form is a two column list of links with no clear indication as to what they are. I know looking at the names of the links that these are other blogs, but someone unfamiliar might not be aware of what they are clicking on.
Moving over to the sidebar, we have a nice big subscriber button, followed by a search bar then more ads, then a box with the titles Recent, Flickr and Community.
Below are what I perceive to be recent articles by this author. I click Flickr and it takes me to a Submit Your Art button. Not sure why this is there. When I click on it, it just takes me back to the blog again.
Next, I click on Community and it just takes me to more Elite By Design articles.
Below that is yet another list of Elite By Design articles. Okay, I get it already, you want me to read your whole blog. I’m getting tired of you throwing it at me, though.
Going back to the top of the blog, there are buttons titles Categories, Popular and Recent. These are grey buttons, which always concerns me because when I see grey buttons I feel like they won’t be clickable. These are though.
Categories takes me into a very nicely organized category section with recent articles. Popular sorts them by number of comments, and recent by date. I like all of these features immensely. They are well organized and give the reader some nice options for article exploration.
Going back to the homepage, I now have a firmer grasp on this site. It’s primarily a blog, but the site also sells WordPress Themes. Clicking on Community from the homepage takes me to articles written by other people. This is a community aggregator section. You are permitted to submit articles for consideration, it seems. This is confusing, and without some kind of header to tell you exactly what it is, the casual reader could be confused and bounce away very quickly.
Moving on to Themes, we have a nice gallery of available WordPress Themes. These are displayed nicely, with options to view a demo, buy it now, and gain more information. I’m pretty happy with this section of the site. I’m also realizing that the big link that says “Video” which was on the homepage and was something I was about to explore next, is also a WordPress theme.
I like the fact that the designer has Contact buttons at the top of pretty much every page. When I click on it, I am taken to a nice no frills contact form. Very usable.
Looking now at the About Page, I have another nice little section that gives me a little information about the author, but doesn’t go on obsessively for pages and pages. It’s short and sweet.
All in all, I like the work of this site but it is very busy and has a heavy, cluttered feeling. I would recommend streamlining it and ensuring that people will be able to have a clear understanding of what everything on the homepage is. Simply putting ‘Blog” above the blog article and “Themes” above the latest theme would work wonders in helping me understand where I am. Having as much material on the front page as is there is one thing, but it would be better to make it a little smaller… condense it somehow so that it doesn’t bombard the reader with way too much content.
Based on my impressions, here’s what I would suggest
- Less Ads above the fold
- Make Comments Smaller
- Indicate what the links in your footer are.
- Consider changing your buttons from grey so we know they are links.
- Declutter the homepage and work on making it easier to navigate.
- Consider a home button above the other navigation on the same line as the RSS button.