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Author Topic: Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler  (Read 4809 times)

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Offline Dragon Powered

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Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler
« on: May 14, 2010, 03:26:08 AM »

Come along friends, today we're taking a short little side trip to Hainted Holler. I'm sure you'll meet a few odd characters on this trip so please keep your hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times.

Review Site: Hainted Holler

FIRST IMPRESSION:

Well, hmm. Honestly, there isn't a lot that comes to mind to describe my initial thoughts. It's a very simple site, featuring a black & white strip of the joke-of-the-day format. Aside from the strip, there isn't much here, where there could be quite a bit more.

*Load Speed: 8
The site has very few graphics and loads quickly.

*Color Mix: 5
The background is a flat turquoise-ish color and is accented by a light blue header that doesn't fill the header area, and an oddly empty light blue box in the right-hand column. Very basic. The header banner is a hanging sign welcoming visitors to Hainted Holler, and has apparently been beaten and tattered over the years and is now hanging by a bit of twisted wire on one end. The sign itself is pink with red lettering, but suffers from visual anomalies caused by a reduced quality JPG image. That's often caused by trying to keep image sizes small, but whatever program was used failed since the file size is still fairly large. The header should be redone with a minimum quality setting of 80 for JPG, or converted to a GIF for fast loading. The header is the first thing visitors see and should be of decent quality, while still quick loading.

LAYOUT:

*Content vs Layout: 5
The site is built using Wordpress / Comicpress, which is pretty obvious at a glance. The design is pretty close to the default layout for the program. I'd suggest the header either be made wider to fill the width of the comic, centered over the comic, or have additional items placed next to it in the empty space on the right (like a 250 pixel advert, vote buttons or the like).

The menu is just a black bar with three links: Home, About and Contact. More content would be good, or even just more links to something. If using very few menu items you could make them a bit larger and space them so they better fill the area given to them.

*Ease of use / Navigation: 7
The site doesn't get much easier to navigate with as little as there is to navigate to. The buttons used for comic navigation are clearly defined and nicely laid out under the comic, but the style of the buttons doesn't match the comic itself. Maybe replace them with hand drawn buttons of a fitting style. There is an extra set of redundant navigation links at the top right corner of the blog post which should be removed.

Meta tags: NONE! Other than identifying itself as Wordpress and Comicpress, that is. Tags are important, kiddies, try to be sure to include them.

*Clutter: 9
There isn't much clutter at all. The site is clean, much like a new house before you've moved in...

*Ads & Placement: 2
There are no ads. There is a small widget displaying a button for InterventionCon, but I doubt that qualifies as an ad. Further down the left side is a set of Vote-For-Me buttons, six of them. Six! Each "Vote" button is like a cry for attention, so the site would benefit by trimming that number to around two. A banner ad could easily work just below the comic navigation and still be shown above the fold, since it's a strip format. The odd blue box on the right could also be replaced by a tower ad to help bring a little revenue to the site.

TOP-DOWN IMPRESSION: 6
I really don't want to make it seem like there is anything particularly wrong with Hainted Holler, but there needs to be something more. There just isn't a lot to comment on here. A little extra would be good, even if it's just something to highlight what's already there. Like the blog under the comic, it could really use something to set it apart from the rest of the page.  Some color or other design elements would help break up the staticness of the page.

*Secondary Content: 5
Again, very little here. There is a nice little blurb about the author, and a stack of links to other comics along the right side, but that's all. It all seems a bit too dry.  Maybe you could add a page with info about the comic itself, or why you love doing it.

*Social Content: 6
Comments are enabled for the comics, which is good. There is a box for FormSpring questions so I presume there is a Twitter account, though none is listed. You could do with more tools for social feedback. I know forums are tough to get started, but there are shared forums that might be happy to have you join them.

OVERALL IMPRESSION:
Hainted Holler isn't a bad place to visit. It just feels a bit empty. The comic itself can be entertaining. I just think it needs more presentation, like a design that makes one feel as if they coming around a curve in the rutted dirt road that leads to Hainted Holler. I'd like to suggest a visit to Open Designs. Have a look at some of the professional designs there, I think you just might find something to add some real spark to the site.

*Overall Rating: 6
Basic entertainment, just needs a little more spice.

Offline JGray

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler
« Reply #1 on: May 14, 2010, 07:26:43 AM »
You've stressed the importance of metatags in multiple reviews, now. I think you should do a short article explaining what they are, how browsers use them, and how to set them up in code.

Offline Travis Surber

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler
« Reply #2 on: May 14, 2010, 08:28:34 AM »
wow,a 6 out of 10.That's better than I thought.I have ideas for the site but lack any skill at coding so I'm afraid to do too much to the site.And the ComicPress forums are kind of hit and miss for help.Still I've got some ideas and I'm gonna try and implement them.

Offline Alectric

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2010, 02:18:55 AM »
You seem to be of the opinion that every comic with any size readership could benefit from a forum, even if they allow comments for their comics.  To this I would disagree, and say that usually you only need one or the other, and if your readership isn't particularly large and dedicated, you should go for comments over a forum.

And why do you assume twitter because of formspring?  I know you can get the formpsring answers made into twitter posts, but it's not necessary, and hardly implies that the two go together.

Offline Travis Surber

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2010, 10:13:04 AM »
No He's right I have Twitter and Formspring and one day I'll get someone asking me a question on Formspring

Offline Dragon Powered

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2010, 03:13:51 PM »
You seem to be of the opinion that every comic with any size readership could benefit from a forum, even if they allow comments for their comics.  To this I would disagree, and say that usually you only need one or the other, and if your readership isn't particularly large and dedicated, you should go for comments over a forum.

Well, you somewhat answered that yourself.  I am of the opinion that any comic with a decent following could benefit from a forum.  It isn't needed, but it is certainly beneficial.  Comments on the comic are fantastic, but they follow the comic post, which they should.  If someone comments on a post everyone reading the post is likely to see the comment and it encourages more comments, but once the post is a day or two past almost nobody sees the comment unless they are browsing the archives.  If someone leaves a comment in the afternoon or evening and the regular readers come in the morning, they don't ever see that late comment.  Forums, on the other hand, allow for continuous conversation, with easy reading of previous comments.  Forums tend to allow for personal profiles, and encourage more interactivity between the readers, forming greater community.  Reader's comments can be expounded upon by other readers and contribute to both the author's creative pool as well as the community at large.  I greatly encourage using both direct comments as well as forums, Facebook or some other meeting place for reader interaction.  However, a comic does not need either comments nor forum to be a success.

And why do you assume twitter because of formspring?  I know you can get the formpsring answers made into twitter posts, but it's not necessary, and hardly implies that the two go together.

I only assume Twitter because Formspring is fairly new and is generally used with either Twitter or Facebook.  I know it can be used alone, but this is the first time I've seen it done.  Formspring and Twitter may have nothing at all to do with each other, but the design and interface are so similar they seem like siblings.

Offline amanda

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2010, 11:24:04 AM »
I second the idea to pen up a short article on meta tags - that's a good topic that not a lot of beginners are familiar with =D
/

Offline Dragon Powered

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2010, 03:13:53 PM »
Yes, it is a good idea.  I'll try to write something definitive up when I get a moment, and Rob can toss it in the queue.

Offline Rob

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Re: Dragon Does Reviews -- Hainted Holler
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2010, 06:06:23 PM »
I'm glad someone is planning on writing it because I'm clueless on the subject.

;D