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. The clear navigation and traditional layout give the site a sense of familiarity — therefore making it more usable.
Our Initial Impressions
When I first open the page I see the sub header under Marios Tziortzis that says “thoughts, photos and whatnot”. This leads me to believe this is a personal website. As I scroll down I become aware the site looks very WordPress-esque and the two column layout is familiar to me.
My first impression of this site is that it is very artistic looking. I like the design and the colors very much. It seems well thought out and well put together. It is professional, while at the same time showing a lot of personality.
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.
I immediately notice the color scheme and the logo. The typography is crisp and the man standing nearby gives me a comfortable feel. I can tell this is a personal site. The subheading “Thoughts, photos, and whatnot” is inviting and succinct. The navigation is clear. I like the effect around the photos and the content area. It seems to provide the chromatic contrast necessary to differentiate the content but does not to call too much attention to itself.
What Confuses Us
I am wondering, what are these three photos along the top? I understand this is a personal site but are these blog post images that are going to lead me to a recent post? No, I am wrong. These photos lead to the Photography tab and show the image.
I’m also noticing that those three pictures at the top of the page are static and aren’t going anywhere. This is confusing, because although it does add some dynamic to the page, I think that if you aren’t putting your regular blog entries there either, then those pictures should be left off. It’s about consistency. They belong on the home page, but not on the other pages in my opinion. Also, the picture furthest to the right lines up with the sidebar, which makes it look part of the sidebar. I would recommend trying to differentiate this somehow.
I decide to 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.
What’s microblogging? I don’t know, but Mario places an entry that begins “Microblogging:” in the middle of his regular-blogging feed. The styling is different and this makes me wonder what the overall page structure is like. While the site layout was immediately familiar to me, I’ve begun to question my assumptions.
At this, I would recommend taking a look at how others have tackled similar problems. Anand Sharma uses a great format on his personal blog, www.aprilzero.com to convey microblogging. On the right, he has a “Diary” section that lets users know what’s running through his head without elaborating. Mario may want to consider sectioning his micro-entries off like this.
What We Like
I like that underneath the photos on the Photography page I have a description to help me figure out what is going on. I also am really appreciating the fact that you highlight what page you are on via the navigation. Since there is not much of a color change on this website it helps me keep my barrings.
I really like the animation integrated in the RSS Subscription section, this draws my attention but isn’t too far from what one should expect to be when thinking of RSS. It certainly makes me want to subscribe just a bit more.
Marios has an About Me section, which makes me blissfully happy. It’s got a nice personal introduction, and a personal picture. There are nice links to where he went to school, his resume and so on. Also, he gives us information about his photography and his gear. I like that he has a lot of nice bold links throughout, which compliment what he is saying, but aren’t totally intrusive. He has one section, though, called “What I’m Listening” which does make me break out into hives a little. If you have to have that section, which isn’t entirely useful because it doesn’t give any real information about music types or bands, please make sure it’s changed to “What I’m Listening To”, and don’t forget the punctuation at the end of the description.
Comments are the traditional style which is great. They 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.
I like the display of comments on Mario’s site. The comments by Mario are quickly differentiated from those of the blog’s readers. The wide spacing and the bits of color adorning each comment bring the life of the header back to the middle of the site. These subtle touches bring the page together. Sometimes it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by a sea of comments. This comment treatment makes me scan the page much more easily.
What We Suggest
- Add a ’submit’ button to the search bar.
- Add a back to top link on the Work page. This page is quite expansive and I wish I could return to the top easily after navigating through a few of these sections. The anchors to bring me to different sections of this page work nicely.
- I would also suggest that you find consistency on whether or not your links are going to open in a new window. For example, your links on the Work page open in the same window while your contact page links to FaceBook, etc open in a new window. This confuses me as a user.
- Do not make those top three pictures static. Keep them only on the homepage.
- Fix the contact form so we have some kind of acknowledgement that information has been submitted.
- Switch the picture on the About Me page to something more professional.
- Do away with the “What I’m Listening” section, or fix the spelling and punctuation.
- Make the archives font smaller.
- Condense the comments on the About Me section.
- Consider rethinking the Subscribe pull out option to something less subtle.
- Consider using darker text in site search, and adding a search button to make it more obvious how to use the form.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Make the copy stand out better against the background, right now grey on grey makes things a bit difficult.
- Place a “go” or “submit” button after the search field. Without having a permanent label/button a user may become lost after clicking in the field.
- Consider differentiating your headers more, it’s hard to make sense of what header goes with what content sometimes.
- Consider consolidating the methods of commenting on your work. From what I gather users can comment via wordpress, Flickr, and Google Friend Connect. I would try and stick with one or make the integration more seamless.