Monday, February 12, 2007

Review of national site front page mock-up

Late Friday afternoon, we got the first design mock-up of our national site. After a month of reviewing wireframes - and since June planning for the website redesign - it's great to start seeing actual designs.

The wireframes are a different animal than the mock-ups. And though we labored over the navigation, text, and feel of the site to be, the front page mock-up gives me a completely different perspective. To a certain extent, it's like the lights have been turned on - I'm seeing stuff that I can't believe I missed earlier.

Over the weekend, I've looked at it, taken a break, looked again, and shared it with a few outside folks. Basically, this will be an expedited process as we're shooting for a transfer of the creative assets by Friday - yes Friday - so that build can begin the following Monday.

This Tuesday is our 'design review' meeting with our partners, my thoughts are below.

The folks that have seen the mock-ups prefer the one below, but I think there are some great points about this design. First of all, there is better use of the space at the top. I also like how your eyes are drawn to the photos in the center as they pop from the page.

However, the downside is that the navigation on the left and the bling to the right really sinks to the back of the page. I find it hard to do an initial page scan as the transition from the center feels like I'm falling off the page.

First of all, the colors are great. I'm usually not a fan of bold colors, but they seem to work for me. Also, the photo rocked, but the biggest concern I have with this mock-up is the amount of real estate the top navigation, main navigation, and lead image take up. On smaller monitors, I bet roughly half the screen space is consumed by these elements - too valuable to loose in my opinion.

After seeing some color, there are three changes that I plan to make for the next round:

  1. Delete 'Riverlog' section. Forget about the four most recent posts from the 'Riverlog' above the news section. I'm more inclined to put it in the left navigation and make it a static link below 'America's Most Endangered Rivers'. I'm also leaning toward the name 'River Blog' - more direct.
  2. Add 'River News' section. I like the idea of us being the source of river news - not just the press clips we're in - but stories that highlight the issues and the work many others are doing to further the cause. I like what Echoditto does with
  3. Delete the 'Your Region' drop down menu. I missed this on the wireframe, but there are too many drop downs on the home page. It was confusing to me when I saw it color. Instead, I think a static map that links folks to the 'Your Region' section is probably preferred.
My questions: What works for you? Where do your eyes go? What do you feel you're being asked to do? What questions should we be asking ourselves? Potential problems?

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