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Author Topic: Dragon Does Reviews -- Crossing Death  (Read 3717 times)

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Offline Dragon Powered

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Dragon Does Reviews -- Crossing Death
« on: May 07, 2010, 01:36:17 AM »

Greetings Knights and Ladies, today we venture to Crossing Death, a little knight's tale comic by Dr. BlkKnight. Our hero in this story appears to be a fellow by the name of Brick Obren, who is stuck between two opposing forces who both want him to help them but neither of which he particularly likes. Ah, the hero who doesn't want to be one... or something.

Review Site: Crossing Death

FIRST IMPRESSION:

Upon reaching this land of far-away my first thought was 'Aha! Another hobbyist webcomic." Not that that's bad, many of the best reads out there are hobbyist comics.  The artwork is simplistic as well as the site design, which works well enough because neither draws the attention from the other.  Actually, if I wasn't thinking about the site design in the first place, I probably wouldn't think about the site design. However, while the design doesn't draw you away from the comic itself, it also does nothing to enhance it.

*Load Speed: 8
The site loaded up for me very quickly, and all content seems to appear properly.

*Color Mix: 6
The colors for the site are blue, on blue, with some blue mixed in. The text is white and readable, though in smaller sizes it gets to be a little bit of a strain. The top header is blue (of course) with a thin white border, and changes with each page load. It provides the name of the site with one of the characters peeking over the bottom edge.  There is a drop-down box to switch to another layout template, which doesn't actually affect the layout, just the colors. Purple and orange? Really? Ok, sticking with the blue...

LAYOUT:

*Content vs Layout: 7
Both the comic and the site itself are simple.  The site design could do with a theme to enhance the comic, something that makes you feel more as if you've entered the comic's world. The header is a bit large, providing the name of the site and a random character from the story, but it doesn't really give any information.  The side bar links use hand drawn icons in the same style of the comic, which is a nice touch, though most of them don't seem to have much in common with the link they highlight. Aside from the email, Facebook and Deviant Art icons they are just more icons.

*Ease of use / Navigation: 6
The right sidebar navigation is clear and easy to use, but the comic page navigation uses unlabeled icons for forward, back, first and last, which give no real indication as to what they are for. They seem to be tuning forks pointing different directions. A good idea would be to put text across those icons, or at the very least give them a Title attribute. It also wouldn't hurt to duplicate them above the comic, so one doesn't have to scroll down every time to click for the next page.

The reason I gave this a score of only 6 is because the site meta-tags don't give much more than a title. There is no description tag at all, and the keywords tag is empty which means search spiders will be wandering around getting tangled in their own web trails instead of knowing where to go. The addition of meta-tags is pretty important for bringing in those fabled "New Readers."

*Clutter: 8
Although the site is busy, with plenty enough items and links, it doesn't appear cluttered. Each item serves a purpose and fits well enough where it's placed.

*Ads & Placement: 6
There is one ad common throughout the site, a PW tower ad.  The ad is too low on the sidebar for actual value. It's not noticeable at all when entering the page, and is placed below all the other items on the sidebar. You'd see better value from the tower ad if it appeared just below the side navigation links, and above the Vote links. Also on the main page, below the comic, is a set of 3 small PW ads which for some reason don't line up. Aside from the alignment, those seem to be in a good location for what they are.  You might want to think about placing a square ad next to your header, up where the template drop-down is.  That might provide better value.

TOP-DOWN IMPRESSION: 8
Scrolling down I find the comic easily readable. The beginning comics suffered from a smallish font for the text bubbles, but the font is comfortably sized and clear in the later editions.  I think, since the comic has a black background itself, it could do with a border to separate it from the blue background.  Maybe a frame that shades from black outward to blue, however it's really not bad the way it is.

The comments are below the comic, like most sites, but are unique in that the artist's comments are on the left side while the guest's comments are on the right, separated by a white border line. It's really an interesting way to see comments done.

*Secondary Content: 8
This receives an 8 because I love your archives. No, I adore your archives. The scrolls to divide the chapters look great, and fit your Knight's tale type comic, and they unscroll to reveal the links to the comics. Very very nice.

The other areas are about average. The About section could use some more information, and could really benefit by being on a light color division with dark text, rather than the white on your varied blue background. It's a little hard to read. The downloads and picture areas are simply enough laid out, but could benefit by actual thumbnails that link to the full image rather than the large image being scaled down. Those pages load a bit slower due to that.

The Cast page is longer than your hero's quest! Really really long. You list more people than a town charter. Sticking with just the main characters might be a better option since minor characters tend to be forgotten anyway, or quickly become dragon fodder and then forgotten.

*Social Content: 6
There isn't any other than the comments area. There is no forum, nor even a link to an outside forum. There isn't a chatbox. There is Facebook and a large purple bird with a Beatles haircut for Twitter. Again, the comments area does have an interesting layout.  One peeve: the comments are way down there, almost as far as the tower ad.  Here's a thought, maybe you could make a nice icon called "Comments" and set it somewhere closer to the top of the page so people realize there are comments. Just make it link to an anchor tag at the top of your comments area.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
The site and comic are pleasant enough. There isn't anything jarring or flashing or annoying to send visitors packing. It's easy enough to read through the archives, though clearer navigation and more of it would help. The comic artwork is simple, but has seen a vast improvement between the first page and the most recent.

*Overall Rating: 7
I'd recommend this comic for the casual reader.  It's decent, simple entertainment.

Offline Dr. BlkKnight

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Crossing Death
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2010, 05:48:32 PM »
Technically it's cerulean on cerulean on cerulean. :p

For some reason I was expecting worse.

Offline Dragon Powered

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Crossing Death
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2010, 06:33:24 PM »
For some reason I was expecting worse.

Why?

Offline Dr. BlkKnight

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Crossing Death
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2010, 11:02:21 PM »
I tend to expect reviews to be worse than they end up being (this was rather prominent during the process of writing my dissertation, too :p)

Offline amanda

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Crossing Death
« Reply #4 on: May 11, 2010, 07:06:30 PM »
Nice review - some very good points.  I also really like CD's site (even the purple and orange ^.^).
/

Offline klingers

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Crossing Death
« Reply #5 on: May 11, 2010, 08:33:50 PM »
Great review!

I'm definitely liking the layout of the site. The right-hand sidebar has everything at eye-level that I could think I'd want access to.

While there's definitely a lot of blue, what I do like is that you've chosen the right colour saturations and text colours that allow one can to least read the text quite legibly. And they are nice blues too  ;)