Natural Variety

Wednesday, August 25, 2004 at 8:00 pm | Comments off

Last night, we had a "soft launch" of the Natural Variety Pet Food website. I say soft launch, as the site is not complete, but the client wanted the site live "as is" anyway. We still need to set up an online ordering system and I'd like to work on the homepage a bit more, to help draw visitors in. I'd also like to see a large part of the copy for the site re-written, though I'm not sure if that's likely to happen.

Overall, while I'm happy with the design, I'd like to see the content flow with the design a bit better. As I said, I think rewriting the copy would be a good starting point, weeding out the cruft and only leaving the essential information that potential customers will need. I'd also like to add less copy and more images (perhaps of products) to the homepage, so visitors won't get lost. Once we set up the online store and can link to products from the homepage, that will probably help.

Go ahead, critique it.


August 25th, 2004
9:31 PM | #

Nice site. I don't like the colours much but that's just me.

the worn look on the main content looks a bit out of place, if it was pure white it would look a little more professional in my opinion.

i like the divide with the fade at both ends.

i really like the bar that is in the background and the width of the window.

All in all a good site but my main problem with it is nothing changes, the image at the top stays the same and it seem a bit bland.

Ben "Omega" Rogers
August 25th, 2004
9:36 PM | #

Well, I'd like to start off by saying it seems a bit more bland than the other designs of yours I've seen (yeah, all 2 of them), and that the colours are very reminiscent of IWD (not neccessarily a bad thing). Also, the stripe that levels with the header caught my attention the most- maybe something similair could be done with the footer?

Maybe the text could the be softened up a shade, and maybe their could be list style images placed so they don't stand out as much. And seeing as how soft everything is, the header color might do well with some softening.

It's a nice, user friendly layout, very appropriate for a business site. It's easy on the eyes, and legible. It's not exactly 'wow,' but it looks nice, and makes for an experience where the user can navigate easily, so I suppose this doesn't matter. By the way, is that a Jack Russell Terrier in the header?

August 25th, 2004
11:24 PM | #

I like the little details Ryan, that's something you always know how to do. The light gradient background for the content, the nice use of colors is great, all earth tones. maybe you could use some FIR for the heading text and use a nice unique font :).

All in all, looks good with all the subtleties(sp?) you've got going on.

August 26th, 2004
12:33 AM | #

I really like it, but my only comment would be to make the valid xhtml and css on a new line. It looks sloppy as is. Thats my only "design" issue. Looks good. *gives teh neczy seal o' approval* =D

August 26th, 2004
2:06 AM | #

What's with the mailto link if you have a contact page set up?

August 26th, 2004
2:09 AM | #

And I just noticed that you have arrows pointing to each of your menu items and the same type of arrow pointing to the doamin name way at the top, but it isn't a link.

August 26th, 2004
6:06 AM | #

I'm interested to know why exactly you're not using your own layout technique for the side-bar.

And there's no skip-nav link.

Oh, and there's not really any use for the #sidebar <div> tag, you could do everything with just the <ul>.

Also, perhaps SIR would be better than FIR. ;)

How about some numeric accesskeys for the navigation? Nothing fancy, just 1-5 would do it.

Perhaps a definition list for the order page rather than headers and paragraphs, although headers and paragraphs isn't exactly wrong.

Sorry for saying all these bad things, I'll say some good things now.

The design is really very good, I especially like the top banner, I'm not a dog person (more of a cat person myself), but that header is just ... good.

I especially like the "cross" on the page, lines of colour for the sidebar and header.

Very nice work, I look forwad to seeing some of your future eye-pleasing designs.

August 26th, 2004
4:24 PM | #

I'll try not to be repetitive, not saying what others have already said. But if I do, my apologies.

I like the earth tones since it only seems "natural" to use them for a site called "Natural Variety". I too like the horizontal bar going the width of the screen at the top. It really catches the eye. The horizontal bar reminds me a bit of Ryan Sims' website. He's got a bar that really catches your eye, too.

It seems you're trying to keep the colors somewhat muted, but the links on the left feel very bland. Especially since the design next to each one of them is almost the same color as the links themselves. Along that same vein, I don't really care for the extra site title above the picture of the dog. Back to the links, though, could they be the color brown that's in the logo?

Can you replace the font you're using for h2's (and maybe even h3's)? The font in the logo doesn't seem like a logo everyone would have installed so that may be out (as far as using that font for the headers), but I'm just not feeling it with the the Times New Roman. And just like the links, could the h2's be a different color, maybe the green from the logo? Using the same colors in several places wouldn't look so bad to me, it might help pull the site together visually.

I know I've been negative on just about everything, but don't get me wrong. I like the site. Your ability to design makes me jealous. Your knack for the small details makes me very jealous! :)

August 26th, 2004
6:54 PM | #

You should encourage them to put an address on their page: I'm not buying elk meat unless I know where it came from. =-)

Ryan Brill
August 26th, 2004
7:35 PM | #

Thanks for all the feedback, guys. Don't worry about being "negative" - if I couldn't take it, I wouldn't have asked for you to critique it. ;)

lavalamp - I'm not using my own technique, because the design isn't fluid, so it is not needed. Also, I did not add accesskeys, as I'm not going to be adding them to any new sites until I have time to research them out a bit more. Links on the subject would be appreciated.

Ray - "greatness is achieved through the little details" and "Details a great designer maketh". Definitely. :)

September 7th, 2004
10:23 PM | #

Hey Ryan,
It's neat how you can let the other guys look over your site for feedback. Let me know how you would like to change anything on the site and lets see how it looks. I am open to trying anything on the web site. Thanks for helping with this project.

September 13th, 2004
8:39 PM | #

its also a bit strange how similar your website is to quite strange seen as you enjoy to give people a little grilling when their site looks barely like yours. it makes me sad.

Ryan Brill
September 13th, 2004
8:56 PM | #

You can read my thoughts on the issue here.

If you look at Shaun Inman's site, you'll probably also see some similarities... A resemblance doesn't constitute stealing the design. Very important to remember before you go accusing people of "stealing".

"...quite strange seen as you enjoy to give people a little grilling when their site looks barely like yours."

Really? When have I done that?

September 14th, 2004
2:12 AM | #

i don't remember saying you stole it. i remarked on the similarity of the site. i haven't accused you and i dont plan to. i very much enjoyed your good designers steal article and the moll links were useful. and as for the grilling i included a hint in my original post "it makes me sad" a previous post of your archives. i find it remarkable that that article still exists since the release of the good designers steal article. that follows the same theme, wouldn't you say?

Ryan Brill
September 14th, 2004
3:11 AM | #

Nope. My site has evolved since that incident, which is why the screen shot and this site don't match up as well as they used to (though they are still similar). My main annoyance with that incident was that the designer actually took my XHTML, CSS, etc. and simply made minor changes. Additionally, when confronted with it, he got defensive and refused to remove the design. I warned the offender than if he continued to refuse to remove the design (since he used my code) I would bring it to the public eye, hence my post.

September 14th, 2004
8:15 PM | #

well im sure thats been resolved now. but i dont think the web designer of the other site would be happy to see the same style of his site used in one of your business sites...

Alex Dukal
December 7th, 2004
9:03 PM | #

Hello Ryan. Hello Ron. Well, it was weird to found a link to here, I did that site for a client and let me say that I don't feel that you're stealing my design. There's some similarity in the layout but it's ok (it could be a ton of sites with a similar structure). I started the idea to layout the site from a printed mag, but after a few minutes the original idea became to other thing.
That's all. See ya'

October 12th, 2005
3:59 PM | #

uh oh... Looks like you've gotta implement some sort of anti-spam system now. The big question is are these automated or not..

Edit: Comment spam deleted above this comment.

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