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Spare me 5 minutes guvn'r? - Corrosive Shame
Therapy for Life
Spare me 5 minutes guvn'r?
As part of an incremental development process and with the help of expert professionals (well, kingandy and berrega) I've been redesigning my website to make it less pretentious and in general a bit "leaner".

I thought it sensible to pause now and ask for some opinions/comments especially on screensizes and browser compatibility. I've listed points as questions, but I'm not going to do a poll rather encourage free-text answers.

The current site is of course http://www.disturbing.org.uk/ which has a very long portfolio page sorted by Headline/Support then date. It has a section for thumbs in the centre of the list where I blitzed it once, then never kept it up.

The new site design is supposed to be simpler, and also separating out "portfolio" from "archive" images.

q.1 - Is this separation good thing in general?

The new front page of the site (example at will offer a (random) sample image which will link through to the correct Portfolio page. At the moment these all link to the same example.

q.2 - Is the idea right?
q.3 - What's your opinion on the design?

Each section (Muisic/People/Places) will have a page like with a small number of thumbs (not all Slash in the final version!) that will change the image in the centre (not all Justin Sullivan!). The links in the grey box will all be live (at the moment only "Band Archive" down are working).

q.4 - Does the layout work for you in general? Any comments on design, font sizes etc.?
q.5 - Are the image sizes about right? (Thumbs, Landscape and Portrait)
q.6 - Does it look like I'm limiting to roughly the right number of images?

The "Band Archive" links offer access to all the gigs I've shot - listed by artist, venue or date (each link goes to a different search).

q.7 - Are these the right searches to have?
q.8 - Are the results presented sensibly?

Finally the last section in the menu bar is "Most Recent Five" which goes directly to recent gigs (based on date of gig, not date of addition).

q.9 - Do you think this is useful?

Any other suggested improvements/additions/...

q.10 - Tell me more...

Thanks for your time!


17 lies or Lie to me
xerode From: xerode Date: June 2nd, 2005 08:14 am (UTC) (Link)

Hope this helps, it's all meant to be constructive :)

I realise that a lot of these "criticisms" can be made to my own site, but that's been redesigned, albeit offline while I work on more important projects.

1. Yes, it keeps the main page from looking too busy, while separating content into clearly defined sections. Definitely cut the number of photos down to a max of the strongest 20 photos for each portfolio section.

2. As long as the images only cycle between the portfolio images (and not archive), then yes.

3/4. Personally I'd drop the white on black and definitely get rid of the monospaced serif text for the body text. Verdana is the nicest cross-browser screen font and failing that, Helvetica or Arial.

Make the links more distinctive than just an underlined version of the body text - a different colour or bolded.

Make the headings more distinctive than the body text. This is where serif fonts can be useful. Make them slightly larger and/or bolder. Do not underline them, only links should really have underlines.

Drop the use of tables and go for full XHTML/CSS. Then make sure they both (mostly) validate for each page - I use one non-standard piece of JavaScript on some pages, but the rest of it is all triple-checked for validity. Follow the different tips from the validation page. Also check each page for speed.

Do not use tables for non-tabular data! Tables are meant to be used for spreadsheet style data, not design. Use divs and CSS instead. Install stats software on your server (I recommed a password protected dir and install awstats) so you can see what browsers people use. You'd be surprised by the number of fairly up-to-date browsers being used, so ditch any legacy support for HTML 3/4 browsers.

Overall the design is quite plain, but I suppose you're pitching yourself as a photographer and not a designer. That said, it could be made a little more "interesting."

4. If you want people to stumble across your site from search engines, do not use JavaScript to display content. Crawlers read the raw text and completely ignore any JavaScript. Load them on a separate page instead, if you're using PHP then it's no added hassle and the difference to your hits will be larger than you imagine.

Read this page for more info on crawlers and search engine optimisation. It's a little old now but the foundations are still the same.

5. Seem fine to me. Just make sure it works in 800 x 600 with no horizontal scrolling and as little vertical scrolling as possible. Like newspapers, keep the important content above the "fold" - i.e. before the user has to scroll down.

6. Not entirely sure what you mean.

7/8. Right searches, but not the right way to display them at all. Too much scrolling due to much spacing between each item. Use lists instead, and include the search options at the top of the results pages as well.

9. Yes, as it's something I use on my own site ;) It sends people directly to the most recently updated pages without having to have ugly "NEW!" images on them.

10. I've just woken up, so I'm still a little bleary. Might add more later.

You may have to realise this is written by a scripting (not necessarily design) Nazi ;)
anatosuchus From: anatosuchus Date: June 2nd, 2005 08:40 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hope this helps, it's all meant to be constructive :)

Just as a counterpoint, although it's a tad small I like the monospaced font. The trouble with "Verdana being the best font" is that every bugger uses it and before you know it all web sites look the bloody same!

I think it complements they layout.
xerode From: xerode Date: June 2nd, 2005 09:23 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hope this helps, it's all meant to be constructive :)

I know what you mean about the "overuse" of Verdana, but I still use it because it's the only standard-compliant font designed for screen use. All the other fonts were designed many years before computers and this is one of the reasons serif fonts look so ugly at such a small size.
kingandy From: kingandy Date: June 2nd, 2005 09:17 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hope this helps, it's all meant to be constructive :)

"do not use JavaScript to display content"

ITYM "do not use JavaScript as the only way of displaying content". Each of those thumbnail links has a HREF that works fine as a url for accessing the image (eg. ), which the JS cancels after it's run its image switch thing (return false). if js doesn't work for some reason (eg. you've got it turned off or are a crawler) that link'll fire.

This was instituted because kneeshooter wanted the thumbnail bar to scroll and stay scrolled when you changed the image, so reloading the page with a different image was undesirable, but had to be available in case JS was disabled.
xerode From: xerode Date: June 2nd, 2005 09:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Hope this helps, it's all meant to be constructive :)

You learn something new everyday. Thanks for the info :)
anatosuchus From: anatosuchus Date: June 2nd, 2005 08:37 am (UTC) (Link)
Some answers:
1. It's probably a good idea. I'm afraid the separation means little to me but I can see why someone might want a general set of examples of your work.
2/3. Looks good to me, although I find the font size is at the lower limit for my comfort.
4. I like the design, though I'm not convinced by the horizontal line of thumbs. I have loads of dead space on the screen under the thumbs, but am still forced to use a scroll bar to navigate horizontally across them. Multiple rows would be better IMHO. Also, see above regarding font size.
5. Main image size is fine, thumbs should be at least 50% bigger, if not 75-100%.
6. Probably. On what grounds are you choosing the images? Personally I like to have loads to leaf through...
7. Yes.
8. No. The single column seems rather wasteful of space and requires a lot of scrolling. Can you do it in 2-3 columns (if the browser window is, say, 1024 or wider)?
9. Yes.
10. No time now, hope the above was helpful.

FYI, I am using Firefox 1.0.4 under Linux, at 1280x1024 on a somewhat budget TFT screen.
agentinfinity From: agentinfinity Date: June 2nd, 2005 10:21 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree with number 8
oldnick From: oldnick Date: June 2nd, 2005 08:39 am (UTC) (Link)
1: Yes. Keeping all the pictures online for the really interested is good, but having them all directly fromt he Portfolio was a bit of an overkill.

2: It's a nice idewa, and adds a little variety to the front page

3: If you could lose a couple of lines from it, it would lose the (very small) vertical scroll which it has on my browser. Overall, it's simple, and clean. I'm normally not a fan of black screen designs, but for a photo site with this sort of photos I can see the reason for keeping it.

4: Overall layout fine. Approve of dropping left panel onto a lighter grey. Something''s not qorking quite right on underlining in the the left panel mouseover from Moby down - bottom line keeps underlined, others sometimes do - with Firefox 1.0.4.

It wasn't immediately obvious that the thumbs would work as they do - that may well change when they aren't all identical.

5: Thumbs fine. Portrait possibly a little tall, Landscape too large.

6: If it's limited to the number of thumbs visible (14) - yes.

7: Yes

8: Yes, but...
Given that these are long lists, and will doubtless get longer, should there be some way of jumping through them?

9: Yes

10: No.
anatosuchus From: anatosuchus Date: June 2nd, 2005 08:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Good point on 8 - drop some alphabetical links in there!
kingandy From: kingandy Date: June 2nd, 2005 09:22 am (UTC) (Link)
"If it's limited to the number of thumbs visible (14) - yes."

The entire page was coded around the notion of that bar of thumbnails scrolling. He seems to have changed his mind since. ;p
kneeshooter From: kneeshooter Date: June 2nd, 2005 09:29 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah - I know. I'm an awful customer :-) When this thread has settled down a bit I'd like to have another conversation with you about design tweaks if that's ok.
agentinfinity From: agentinfinity Date: June 2nd, 2005 10:24 am (UTC) (Link)
I'm not much good at the technical stuff, but using images as links is much more pleasant visually and easier to sort though I think. The new front page is therefore an improvement, as it immediately involves the user in your pictures - I didn't have to think about how your navigation worked to access photos.

Amongst people, music and places, where do your larp pictures go?
kneeshooter From: kneeshooter Date: June 2nd, 2005 10:31 am (UTC) (Link)
Somewhere else :-)

In practice I've picked the LARP pics I liked and put them under "People" (or will do).

I might put a new section up for LARP pics - hen there are more than "loads I took at Maelstrom and live on Matt's site". See how Odyssey goes I guess.
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kneeshooter From: kneeshooter Date: June 2nd, 2005 12:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's pretty easy to alt - all either db generated, or is run through a find/replace application as part of the workflow. I'll get on the case.
gaius_octavian From: gaius_octavian Date: June 2nd, 2005 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)

  1. Yes, the portfolio should be the handpicked best few, the archive is where you can put all the ones you just like.
  2. Yes
  3. I like it - clean and functional
  4. Yes
  5. Yes
  6. Yes
  7. Yes, unless you also want to add genre?
  8. Yes
  9. If I came to your site directly, maybe, but I see your updates on LJ in order of addition anyway.
  10. Damn, now I'm going to need to sort out grh-photo.com to keep up! :-)
17 lies or Lie to me