Every week we take a look at a new website and analyze the design. We’ll point out both the areas that are done well in addition to those that could use some work. Finally, we’ll finish by asking you to provide your own feedback.
Today’s site is Rachilli, the personal portfolio of photographer and designer Rachel Shillcock.
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“Whether you need a new brand identity, business stationary or a beautiful, usable website then I can help you. My services range from website design and development through to the creation of corporate and brand identity. I also provide a photography service, so if you have a need for bespoke imagery for yourself, your site or corporate image I can assist you, helping to keep your costs together and lower.”
Here is a screenshot of the homepage:
My very first thought upon seeing this site was that it feels like a bit like a template. The design is pretty typical of what you would see for sale on ThemeForest.
However, this is observation isn’t a negative one. Sure, it’s a fairly standard design but it also looks great. The colors are bold, the alignment is solid and the visuals are attractive. Whether it’s a theme or not, I think the site design was a success and really comes off as a clean and professional piece of work.
Though the site is pretty good as it stands with zero changes, I do have some ideas for strengthening some of the weaker areas. Let’s take a look.
Header and Navigation
The top third of the site is definitely the strongest. I like the three stripe setup for the background, the typeface used for the navigation and of course, the big image slider.
One thing that bothers me a little about this section is that the logo isn’t a link to the homepage. As I was looking around the site I consistently clicked the logo purely as a reaction to bring me back to the homepage.
It is by no means a hard and fast requirement to turn your logo into a link, but it’s always good to anticipate how most users will attempt to make your site work and ensure that their instincts translate to helpful actions.
Another change you might consider making in this area is adding some more differentiation between the primary navigation text and the submenu dropdown text. This particular typeface becomes a little hard to read in big chunks due to it’s boldness so it might help to make the submenu items something a little thinner.
Let’s back off just a little and take in the top half of the website as a whole to see if we can spot any problems. Right away I notice something fairly major:
Similar to the site we saw last week, there’s no clear, simple and large message pointing to what the site is. The images in the slider vary considerably so you’re not quite sure what’s going on. To discover the answer, you have to first read the headline questions, determine which will tell you what Rachilli is, then read the small text. This is simply too many steps to discover what a website is all about.
I think the easiest way to fix this is to integrate some text into the slideshow. Most of the jQuery plugins for sliders like this have text modules built in so this should be a fairly easy change. Even one word descriptors over the slides would go a long way: Web Design, photography, brand identity, etc.
While the top half of the site is very strong from a visual perspective, it weakens in this area as you progress down the page. After that initial header, you’re left with just a big page full of text.
There are several ways that this could be improved. First of all, though the three column format is working great, I think it’s a bit redundant to see it used in both the content and footer sections.
If you stacked the “Who Am I?” and “What Can I Do?” sections, that would turn the main content into a two column section, followed by the three column footer. Adding variation to your layout while maintaining a clear structure helps keep things interesting.
Another thing to watch out for is the width of the columns. The columns on the main section almost line up with those in the footer at certain points, but are well off at other points. Layout similarities are dangerous. If two things are supposed to be the same, make them the same. If not, make them considerably different. Otherwise it results in a sort of messy look that gives users the impression that you tried to make everything line up but didn’t quite make it.
Finally, there’s simply a ton of uninterrupted text between the “Who Am I?” and “What Can I Do?” sections. Once this content is stacked, I think it should both be reduced (maybe two brief paragraphs for each) and broken up with a little imagery. This could be icons, work samples, anything that adds some interest to the page without bringing with it too much clutter.
To sum up, Rachilli is a great looking site that was obviously crafted by someone who knew what they were doing. I like the tone of the communication, the ease at which you can contact the designer and the overall design of the page.
My recommendations were mostly small changes. Make the logo a link, add some descriptive text to the slideshow, break up the text in the primary content section and consider rethinking the repeated three column format. I think these changes will really drive home both the aesthetic and usability of this page.
Now that you’ve read my comments, pitch in and help out by giving the designer some further advice. Let us know what you think is great about the design and what you think could be stronger. As always, we ask that you also be respectful of the site’s designer and offer clear constructive advice void of any harsh insults.