Hi Green Gecko,
Firstly, thanks for taking the time to dig into the site and providing us with this great feedback. This is exactly the sort of thing we are looking for so we can listen to users and figure out how we can continually improve our product.
Okay the main thing I want to point out here is that this is not really a "re-design" it's an experiment to get feedback. The main confusion here I think is that this is an HTML 5 "app" designed only to be viewed in iPad (install to home screen). It is not designed to be looked at in a normal browser, iPhone or any other device yet. We will do this after getting the iPad version working amazingly well. We want to take one device at a time and get it working right before we attempt to fix it for numerous different devices.
Green Gecko wrote:
The paywall hides nearly all the potential tantalisation. You have to dig in and find what pages you don't have to pay to see to get some idea of the content. Where is your front page, your market stall, your shop front, showing off all your wares? Where are you showing off HD video content, high res images and accolades/experience for writing guides? Where are you, Andy?
You can view the first 6 pages of any guide for free. Giving away much more than this I feel would undermine the value - why pay for the guide when you can unlock 10,20,30% etc of it for free? Also the first page you see when you load the app on iPad is the store. We have not yet got a pitch page created but this a WIP at the moment and it will explain the benefits the site has to offer.
Fake GIF loading screens are sluggish - clicking on one of the "front covers" for a guide seems to take a couple of seconds to forward to the guide and that loading bar just gives a psychological impression that the site is slow and, well, it's a fake loading screen.
It is not a fake loading screen. It's the way HTML5 works. You dynamically load in the content. However I do agree that is appears sluggish and the loading screen interrupts the content. What we want to do here is pre-download the entire guide so it is a slick experience (just like iBooks) for the user. It's really sucky being interrupted with this loading screen between every page load so it's at pretty much the top of my priority list to figure out a way to drop this. It's just the way my programmers did it. I didn't ask for it to be that way.
You need to pre-load the roll-over images for the back arrow and the "menu" button at top right. I had no idea what this button did because when I first moused over it just went black and had to wait a few seconds for the BG image to load. There is no associated text or even title/alt attribute for the icons at the top, which are the only ones people really pay attention to as navigation is always, always a the top. For images that navigate anywhere you have to have some associated text because images do not mean the same thing to all people whereas a word often explicitly does (e.g. "go back", or for the menu button, "view contents" or just "menu" - your image of bulletpoints and line of text doesn't really mean anything).
Again the site is designed only for iPad at the moment. This is all great feedback for a web version like the previous site, but this is not what the App is. Agree with all your usability points nevertheless.
Why do you click (again unlabelled) arrows on the left and right to page through content? Traditionally online you either scroll up and down or click links to subsequent pages. You don't turn pages on a Website - this just makes no sense to the medium unless you want to break this, in which case at least label what the arrows do and where they are going to take you.
Again this isn't a website it is an HTML5 app designed only to be viewed as an installed App on your iPad. The arrows make sense in this context. However labelling them for usability purposes is a good idea and we actually have already got this our our internally development list.
The loading screen between pages breaks the flow of navigation. I expect to see content instantly when I click a link - I've been on broadband for 8 years. I don't mind waiting for elements to load - but I want to see text, I want to start reading the next part ASAP - and text should load instantly. Instead I see my immediate point of focus - the centre of the screen - go blank except for "loading" - and then suddenly the content appears. This is disorienting and unnecessary. I really think you would be better off without it. I've not seen a loading screen on the Internet for a least a couple of years, unless it's a massive flash site or a video stream - but I expect that. I don't expect that on a normal text/image site, so it appears slow and broken - it must be broken or slow, why is it so slow? That is what the user thinks and they don't care why. Especially don't tell them your site is "loading" - that it's, in other words, being slow!
Totally agree with you on this. I don't like the loading interaction either. As mentioned above we want to make it do that when you click preview or buy it downloads the whole guide so that you can just browse seamlessly through the guide like you would on iBooks or any other reader.
Links seem to just not respond, the site jerks left and right a pixel or two or jumps to the top of a page - and I don't know what this page is in relation to the last one - where have I been and where am I going? You need a crumb trial / page numbers / index to explain where in the guide you are.
This seems to be a problem with JQuery mobile in general. I will talk to our developers about this. A breadcrumb is probably good for usability that we will probably add in the future.
There is no persistent link to the front page at the top of the site. Web convention crime no.1.
Actually there is. There is a big "Home" button and it's at the bottom of the page, in the bottom (master navigation). Again this is for iPad and you may not have noticed it (or thought to look for it at the bottom) in a regular browser.
The "Gamer Guides" text at the top has no brand whatsoever - it's just text. As a result, along with the bland black, grey, rounded edges etc. the site has zero identity whereas the previous site had a lot of character.
You don't have a logo.
I designed the HTML5 App to be no design on purpose for iteration and development speed purposes. But also I felt the old site distracted heavily from the content. We will add branding in the future but this is expensive so we can't really do this until we close our funding.
There is no explanation of what the site is and what it's for. There's no explanation of its background - it's existence on the web is completely vague unless you read all the text in front of you and only after that - after making the viewer work - does it become clear what the site is for.
Our "pitch page" is WIP. The idea here is to launch quickly to get feedback. We know it's buggy and not perfect, but in the interest of not delaying 6 more months we've decided to just put it up there so we can get some very early feedback (such as this)
It looks like Seb has gone super minimal on the whole thing but as a content-driven site with a small audience, that needs to introduce itself to a potentially massive audience and build up a brand image, this re-design is a step backwards.
Yep I have tried to massively simplify and de clutter the whole thing. Obviously we need to pitch to gamers what we are about, who we are etc but first we need to build an awesome guild browsing and purchasing experience and this is what we have focused on to begin with. The login forms were just thrown up last minute on Friday which is why they're aren't pretty with nice usability (yet). We originally planned to have one click sign up with Facebook, but unfortunately the HTML5 version of Facebook connect is currently broken so we had to put this vision to the site until Facebook fix this...
The design is very consistent. It looks uncluttered and professional. But it lacks character.
Totally agree. Making a design simple and uncluttered is hard. Adding character is very easy and we will worry about that once our core goals are met. 1) Building an awesome browsing experience for guides 2) Making it stupidly easy to buy guides. After that we will develop our brand, identity etc and keep improving the whole offering.
I strongly suggest you take the much stronger branding cues from your old site design and relegate this design to an iPad and mobile site design, switching automatically using user agent detection. The illustrations you had before were great, they really appeal to your gamer teen to 20s/30s audience better - where have they gone?
We may do this, but it's a lot of work to go back and Paywall the old site. I felt our time was better spent focusing on the future which is definitely HTML 5 and learning how to do apps (we may go native in the future, but this will probably cost thousands so we wanted to fix all the sorts of problems you are identifying here before I even consider spending that sort of capital on development of a native app!)
If Seb is your main go to guy for this, and he's clearly a competent web author, I can see why he might not have the same skills as the illustrator. This is lacking some pretty basic appreciation for visual language, cues, interface design. But maybe you should consider drafting in some art talent to give the site much needed character and brand appeal, otherwise the strength of your writing/content is going to be completely overshadowed by zero brand appeal, especially when anyone can go to an established outfit like gamefaqs, where the content is questionable, but they don't need to compete for an audience - it's already there. You need this somewhat naive, what might seem superfluous layer of visual appeal, because without it your site is going to simply look like it isn't worth reading. And as unfair as I'm sure that sounds reading it - act upon that unfairness and make it right. You deserve a much better image to show off your content than this.
I designed the old site and the new one myself
. I'm also the product manager and founder of the site. Basically the whole thing was designed and envisioned in my head and I have a programmer and his colleagues that turn that into a real product. Unfortuantly sometimes we have to make a lot of compromises both functional and financial to get something to market and working within the constraints of reality. Totally agree branding and visual eye candy is very important for our target market, but I did feel the old site suffered from many problems including too wider text layout (hard to read) and low page views so experimenting this version will hopefully teach us new things too. Ultimatly making it look pretty is easy, but making something slick and super smooth to use is quite hard. I acknowledge the current site isn't quite there yet on either front, but my focus has mainly been on making the browsing experience of using an actual guide as good as possible and making it work really nicely on iPad only at this stage.