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 BDQWorks a Drupal/WordPress theme design and development company.
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BDQWorks is a small web design and programming studio of Jason Saeho Lee from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. BDQWorks mainly works for medium sized businesses from Canada like Kudos Home & Design and several YouTube sensations like Clara C.
Here is a screenshot of the homepage:
BDW Works is a design agency, so it would put me in an awkward position if I thought that their site was ugly, fortunately I don’t. There are definitely a few things that I’m not particularly thrilled about, but most of them come down to a manner of preference.
Overall, the site is usable and designed very well, just like the work that BDQWorks puts out on a daily basis. Let’s break down some of the individual pieces to see what we find.
If you follow these critiques weekly you know that one of the first things I always check out on a site is the navigation menu. This is the key component for users to get where they want to go and I’m a firm believer that this element has to be spot on to call a website successful.
The BDQWorks menu is actually quite unique and really has a different structure than I’ve seen on other sites. Here’s a preview:
As you can see, the dropdown menus don’t simply contain a list of links, but also a little snippet of information. This is actually quite nice and gives you a heads up as to what you can expect if you follow that particular link.
The downside of this is that it feels so different that it took me a second to realize what was going on, especially since the various dropdowns switch alignments on you, leaving you not know quite what to expect as you hover over the next option.
To prevent that jarring change, I would recommend giving all of the dropdowns the same alignment so that the list of links and the description are never swapping sides. Also, you might consider changing the hover effect to an actual color bar behind the text so it’s more obvious than the text simply changing color. With the big menu full of content, this will help guide the user to what options they have to click on.
The personalized theme of the site seems to be these little illustrated people that pop up in various places. They’re intentionally roughly drawn and provide a friendly, anthropomorphic touch to the site.
To be honest though, I’m not crazy about the illustration style. This ultimately comes down to a manner of preference but I think that they actually serve to bring down the overall aesthetic of the site.
The client photo, which replaces these characters after a few seconds of viewing the site, is far more engaging and attractive. It lends to the idea that you produce high quality work rather than counteracting that notion like the illustrations do.
About half way down the page there is a horizontal row of images and links that I’ll refer to as the secondary navigation. These each depict a service that BDQWorks offers and shows an image of a Mac-friendy desktop.
At the very end of this though is a little box that simply says “Themes”. I both like and dislike this touch. What I like is the idea and intention behind it. You wanted to give this area special attention so you made it look different than the others. It breaks the photo theme, the uniform size that is established by the others and the font choice.
The problem is that it violates the look of the others without complementing it. In the same way that two colors can either conflict or complement one another, two visual objects can either clash or find harmony. This last little box really just looks out of place, almost as if a completely different designer stuck it in as an afterthought.
My recommendation is to rethink this area. First, split the area into five equal size boxes. Next, place the “Themes” box in the middle. If you want to give it attention, this is a good spot. Finally, use color and font size only to differentiate it. I think a black box would contrast nicely with the others without being awkward. Perhaps you could stay with the iMac theme (stick the logos on the iMac screen) and the fonts used elsewhere, albeit slight large or bolder.
One place where I think BDQ really does a great job is handling the communication on the page. Everywhere I look I’m reminded that this is a web design firm specializing in Drupal and WordPress. You simply can’t miss it! This is a great thing for first time visitors as it immediately makes the purpose of the site and identity of the company clear.
As you can see from the image above, one of the first things you see on the page is a description of who the company is and a list of the services that they offer.
This concept is taken even further by the introduction video on the left side of the homepage, which introduces you to BDQWorks, shows you some of their work and contains real client interviews signing the praises of the company. This video is very well-produce and really gives me the confidence that this is a top-notch, professional company and that I can be confident in both the quality of work they produce and the customer service that they will provide.
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.