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March 16, 2011 at 12:36 pm #32026
I would love to get some thoughts on one of my latest projects that has been very exciting for me from start to finish.
http:://skateboardingphoto.co.uk is web-based magazine that is powered from WordPress.
It is unique because I have never seen anything like it or built anything like it.
A lot of people first say – ‘why don’t you use a PDF publisher?’ or a Flash Page-turn effect. As web designers and editors and enthusiasts, i am sure you guys will not ask those questions and will recognise that the reason for it being built in this way is to get the most from SEO.
There are a few… I am not convinced with the Homepage slider that displays the magazine covers – it seems to be fragile and a little over-kill. I am looking to replace it.
Also, i have struggled with OS interpretations of font size – this leads to page heights not being consistent throughout, depending on your OS. It’s not that big a deal – most won’t even spot it!
Anyway – love to hear your thoughts and perhaps ideas on improvements?
ThanksMarch 16, 2011 at 3:22 pm #55385rickylamerzMember
First off I want to say it’s such a coincidence that I found this. I was thinking about making a setup for a HTML/CSS based magazine for the web.
Although your site is very very nice. There were a few things I wanted to mention.
– I wouldn’t build this kind of thing on WordPress. Key element is loading time. And when using so much images I don’t think a full fledged CMS is neccesary.
– About the loading time, try optimizing your images for web. Same the for the web in Photoshop using a quality settings like 60%. They’re very big.
– I would suggest AJAXing the page turn. Because it has to load a whole new page on each page flip. Which honestly stopped me from reading it till the end.
– I got to page 72. Isn’t that a bit much for a magazine? I’m not an expert but I find that a lot :p
– Another option could be to load the whole magazine upfront and have a flawless page-flipping experience. This could be then loaded in using a loading indicator.
– Try adding a more clear Index page. using page numbering and more info then just the article title.
I hope my critisicm is somewhat useful. Goodluck with your project, and hit me up if you have any questions :)March 17, 2011 at 7:00 am #55357
Thanks for your feedback – you have some valid points! My responses are below:
CMS – The website is a joint venture and my partner in crime, the editor, is not a web-guy. So a basic and easy to use/understand CMS is really key to the success of the site. As far as CMS’s go, WP is pretty light i always thought!
Images – Unfortunately, when you upload to WP and an image gets cropped or shrunk in size, it looses a lot of quality in colours and other aspects. Obviously, being a photography based website we can’t have that happen!
The bottom line is that the images are large and i have yet to find a way around this. One suggestion that we have had and that we are working on implementing is a ‘back-release’ of old issues in a downloadable format. This way people can have an un-interrupted viewing of the magazine. BUT, it would be a couple of months later!
AJAX – Could you explain to me what you mean by this? I would love to know a way to make the browsing smother…!
Thanks Ricky – hope to hear back from you!March 17, 2011 at 7:09 am #55350TT_MarkMember
Honestly, I got bored after three pages because of the poor navigation, however I went back to it and thought I would try and give some constructive criticism.
You’ve not thought properly about navigation through the magazine itself, I had to navigate through 6 pages before I could even get to the Contents page. Once I’ve moved on past the Contents the only way to get back is by clicking and clicking and clicking….there needs to be a quick link to easily jump through sections.
Your linking is not consistent, on the contents page you have a query string on the end of links whilst throughout the magazine you are using search engine friendly links.
I want to be able to enter a page number in my URL after the magazine name and for it to be able to get to that page. Have the URL go /magazine-name/page-number/content-title, whereby the content title isn’t actually required and is just there for SEO purposes.
It’s a good start, but it needs to be much quicker otherwise you’ll lose the visitors interest before they’ve even got through 5 pages.
EDIT: Oh, and Google doesn’t look too kindly on the dark grey text on a black background in your footer. It can damage your ranking even if it doesn’t contain keywords because it’s illegible, ‘hidden’ textMarch 17, 2011 at 8:03 am #55307
Hi Mark, not quite as positive – but some valuable stuff in there i would like to pick up on. I am sorry you got bored – probably not your cup of tea!
Navigation – There is navigation to all the key sections of the site. The green tab at the top shows ‘Quick links’ navigation, sharing options and also links to both the homepage and the cover of the issue you are browsing.
You will notice that there is advertisements inside the magazine and although it has nothing to do with the web-design and readability of the site, we are trying to give those companies maximum exposure. Without getting into the politics behind the site, we want to encourage people in this particular industry to look a little further and find new brands that they might not see in the bigger, print magazines.
So, although we want people to go to the sections the want to read, we like them to read all the way through and the stats for the website show that people are happy to do so and that they might not do it in one sitting, but come back and finish up.
The other point is that the website is not a conventional website with ‘normal’ navigation – this is to add the feel of a magazine whilst browsing.
The page-links might not be consistent because the writer is not a web guy – but that is a valid point and one that i will pick up on!
Your point on Google is a good one and something that i will look into immediately.
ThanksMarch 17, 2011 at 8:49 am #55309TT_MarkMember
It’s not that it isn’t my cup of tea, it was just a bit slow and frustrating to get through. An online magazine should really have the contents on the first page or somewhere easily accessible, otherwise I could be 6 pages in before I realise there is nothing of interest to me in this issue.
“Navigation – There is navigation to all the key sections of the site. The green tab at the top shows ‘Quick links’ navigation, sharing options and also links to both the homepage and the cover of the issue you are browsing. “
This is not obvious! It needs to be clear, otherwise average Joe Public will not know what it’s there for. Don’t make me think “What is this there for?”, make it clear. If anything, have that section expanded all the time and not just the SP with the star rotating until you click on itMarch 17, 2011 at 9:49 am #55311
If you have ever read a magazine of this nature – or in fact most magazines on a particular topic, the contents page is NEVER the first page. I am not completely sure why this is, but it doesn’t matter – we want our magazine to be as life-like as possible.
I am aware that the navigation may need some attention to have people drawn to it more. But the fact is that a lot of people, most people, recognise it is there and use it – i can tell this from the stats in google and the custom events recording.
I was thinking of a cookie-based pop-up that points the user to the navigation in at the top of the page on their first couple of visits.
ThanksMarch 17, 2011 at 10:05 am #55313snillorMember
Visually, the presentation and cycling of the images is pretty impressive. (But see below.)
I’d have to agree that the navigation needs to be much more obvious.
My initial reaction to the home page was “What is available here?” It wasn’t at all clear what content was available or how to get to it, so I quickly lost interest in the site.
To return to the cycling of images: I use the wheel on my mouse to scroll a page vertically, but on your site this doesn’t work as expected. Instead of scrolling the page up/down, it cycles through the images. I find this departure from normal behavior irritating so I’m unlikely to revisit the site.March 17, 2011 at 10:26 am #55314
Snillor – again, some valuable input. That has been one of the issues from the word go and something that i am looking into fixing.
ThanksMarch 18, 2011 at 12:24 am #55279JohnnybMember
Hey first of all this is a cool idea and I commend you for that. But I’m just curious.. Have you tested this on any mobile devices? I do a lot of my browsing on my iPhone/iPad, I’m on my iPhone right now and tried to use your site, unfortunately I couldn’t even turn the first page. I think it would be a big mistake to over look mobile users, pretty soon more people will be using mobile devices to browse than desktops, everything now should be optimized for mobile to prepare for that, otherwise you’re cutting out a huge potential market, especially with something like an online magazine where it’d be nice to be able to read on the go.March 18, 2011 at 3:34 am #55284rickylamerzMember
@Johnnyb While I completely agree with you, I think it’s very very very very difficult to bring an online magazine experience to the web. Especially if you have people writing content who are not that web-savy.
Speed, optimized images and proper layout while keeping it a magazine feel would be such a humongous challenge…March 18, 2011 at 11:50 am #55246TheDocModerator
Difficult? Maybe. Beautiful when you get it right? Yes.March 19, 2011 at 1:25 am #55188aaronsilberParticipant
I know you want your online magazine to feel much like a real magazine, but herein lies the problem. An online magazine is not a magazine.
If you start to break apart from the ideas behind a traditional magazine experience, and start to translate things for the screen (whether it is mobile or desktop) – you’ll soon realize that they both demand different experiences. You need to start focusing on getting relevant content to viewers quickly instead of worrying about which page the TOC is on.
Printed magazines can put the table of contents on the 6th page (behind 5 ads) because you’ve already PAID for the magazine. *I’m about to type in caps, please excuse me* NOBODY BROWSING THE INTERNET WILL SIT THROUGH 5 ADS BEFORE THEY VIEW YOUR CONTENT – NOT EVEN FOR PORN. *end caps* If you put users through that, don’t waste your time with Google optimization.
What I’m trying to get across is that you’re asking the wrong questions and your looking at the problem in the wrong way. You’ve got plenty of navigation problems, sure, and some of the pages don’t load very quickly, and perhaps Google won’t pick you up – but those aren’t the problems. Your magazines look cool, and they seem to have relevant content (kick ass content actually). The content itself isn’t the problem, but the way you’re letting users access it definitely is. Drop the magazine feel – run with something else.
Also, get somebody who has never been on your site before and who would be interested in the content, and ask them to perform tasks while you observe. Examples of tasks;
1. “You’ve heard that skateboarder
has an article in January’s issue. Please navigate to January’s issue, and locate the article.”
2. “Navigate to March 2011’s issue, and use any means necessary to quickly locate the article titled “article name.”
I guarantee you would learn something from watching them struggle with these small tasks. For example #2 they would almost definitely flip through the magazine page by page searching for the article – not fun at all. Sometimes the things we build are only clear to us – only experience will show you where the problem areas are.
@TheDoc – Really? I doubt that the dudes at Fantasy Interactive (Fi) would identify their book as a web magazine. I also doubt they would port that experience over to an editorial site. Cool, yeah, but irrelevant to the maximum dude.March 19, 2011 at 4:02 am #55196ccc630Member
@aaronsilber nailed it. Especially the all caps part. I’ve visited the skate site 4 times now, with the intent of actually finding the content and trying to offer some objective feedback, but it’s not worth my effort to dig through. I shouldn’t *have* to dig through. Get the content in my face immediately, and make it painfully obvious where to find more content, or I simply won’t care. And in this case “I” means “everyone who browses the web.”March 19, 2011 at 2:05 pm #55142
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