Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blog Tour: Wayfarer's Journal - Site Design Review

Welcome back oh blog tourers and readers of mine. I had an eventful day of snowshoeing through the fluffy goodness that is winter in BC. Got a bit lost and fell down a small cliff but don't worry, I am fine! A little sore, but fine. Pictures to follow when I get my film developed (it was to foggy for the digital today)

Okay so today is the second day of the December CSFF Blog Tour for which we are visiting the Christian Sci-fi E-zine (do they call it an e-zine? Isn't there a less...nerdy term out there somewhere?) The Wayfarer's Journal. If you want a general overview, read my next post. If you want a story review, come back tomorrow. If you want to listen (read) as I spout off design opinions, keep reading.

First off, in Jim Black's interview, Terri (the site's editor-in-chief) did say that he knows he is not an artist/designer and that he is hoping to improve on the sites design. Which is great because you know what I've noticed about writers? As wonderful and adorable as they (you) all are...the majority are not artists or graphic designers. And it shows! Writer webpages give me a migraine. Don't be afraid to ask for help people! That's why we're the graphics people! It's what we do!

That said, the Wayfarer's Journal does not give me a migraine (hooray!). It's not terribly exciting, but better to be a bit simple than so packed full of fantastic ideas that no one can see them.

Here's what I liked:
- Navigation was at the top and easy to use. No funny stuff. No hiding of links.
- Consistent theme.
- It was easy to find the stories and poetry...which is after all the point.
- Everything was fairly easy to read (meaning font sizes were good, and the text was always visible on the background)

Those might seem like boring obvious things...but sooooo many sites don't bother with them and the result is...annoying to say the least.

Things I would change:
- The banner on the first page is a low image quality. All the other pages have a high quality banner. I'm guessing (hoping) that this was a graphic typo.
- The text is a little close to the edges, this is easy to fix.
- The author guidelines info escapes the layout.
- The grey, black and white thing? Just doesn't do anything for me. Maybe it's the sterileness off space? Unfortunately it just makes me feel a bit bored...but I think they know that.

My main beef would be that they say that even though they only publish twice a year, there is always new content. It's not obvious what is new, so if I just glanced at the page again in a month, I might think that nothing had changed and write it off. I think people need to be excited about updates to the site...or why bother returning once you've read everything? Maybe if the blog was incorporated into the first page and updated...weekly?

And now a question for all of you:

Do you find chat rooms or forums more accessible? I personally am intimidated by chat rooms but love to lurk around and post a bit in forums. Also, forums have the advantage of being able to converse with people at any time, and keeping a record of interviews and conversations. Is this just me? I'm honestly curious because if it were my site I would have gone with forums and I wonder if you would.