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Dragon Does Reviews -- Café d'Alizée

Started by Dragon Powered, August 05, 2010, 10:21:17 PM

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Dragon Powered

Hello, what can I get for you?  Have a seat, you've found your way to the Café d'Alizée, a place named after someone who always wanted to run a cafe, but died. No, I don't know why she died. It's not about her anyway, it just starts out that way...

Review Site: Café d'Alizée

Soft, pastel look. Somewhat fitting for a cafe, but wait, where's the comic?  Oh, it's that little postage stamp on the right. Ok.

At first the site seems to be a blog about a cafe, rather than a webcomic. It's setup like a blog, except for the description above the 'News' area. But then you notice the links to the comic in the navigation as well as the thumbnail image of the comic.

There are several reasons for placing the webcomic on a sub-page rather than the main landing page, and in this case it appears to be because the comic is a large format that takes up most of the available content area. Understandable, but you may want to consider linking to it with a larger teaser image, like a highlighted portion of the comic, rather than a tiny thumbnail.

*Load Speed: 9
The site loads up quickly, even while browsing the comic archives.

*Color Mix: 8
The colors work well with the comic, and the text colors are clearly readable while matching the color of the page. The comic itself has nice, warm colors with a pleasing style, when it doesn't revert to an oddly blocky chibi style (which is used for two characters acting as page borders).


*Content vs Layout: 5
The base design, along with the banner and links work well enough. Below the main nav links is a site-navigation which just doesn't feel right, especially when browsing the comics. Being shown "» Comics - Appetizer Page 002 - 14 Jun 2010 10:58 pm" at the top of every comic is unwieldy and unnecessary. Also, the page layout appears broken on several pages where the comic image is wider than usual. If your layout does not expand to accommodate wider content, you should size the images to fit the layout.

*Ease of use / Navigation: 6
The comic navigation consists of textual links below the comic. It would be good to have those links replicated above the comic as well, though there is a forward and back link provided midway down the comic image if moused over. Cafe flavored icons for navigation would be a nice addition.

While the site has both Description and Keywords meta-tags, they could use some work. The Description tag is basically a repeat of the description given on the main page, but it contains html tags which is a no-no for meta tags. Strip out those <b> and <br> tags. It's also a bit long. The Keywords tag contains the title of the comic when browsing archives, which is what the Title tag is for, and a half dozen ways of saying webcomic. Yes it's a webcomic, but one instance of "webcomic" should suffice, followed by keywords pertaining to the comic story or the characters.

*Clutter: 8
Not much clutter here, but there really isn't much of anything to be cluttered. There is a vote banner dropped way below the comic and it's comments, but that's about it. On the main page it's a very basic blog-type format.

*Ads & Placement: 0
There are no ads.

"Eliza Jones always had a dream of opening a cafe, but met a tragic fate before she ever could. Thus, the Café d'Alizee was opened in her honor.

This story really isn't about her, though."

Wait, what? Why is she at the forefront of the story then? Then again, I've yet to find a story other than that little bit. The characters have the potential to become interesting down the line, but as yet it's all very haphazard. They've been dropped into a location and, well, there they are.

The artwork is pleasing. The layout is not jarring and the colors are nice.

*Secondary Content: 5
The archives are well laid out, and there is a character information page. Each of the characters (and there are many) has a bio with a large picture above their information, all stacked on top of each other, making for a very long page.  I'd suggest resizing the profile images down about 50%, moving them to the left and placing the bio information to the right of the image, with a dividing line or something between each character to avoid confusion.

*Social Content: 5
The only social tools used are comments on the comics, and a vote banner. Comments are located below the comics.  There is an RSS feed, which shows thumbnails of each comic, a good thing because it draws the reader to the site in order to read the comic.

I like the artistic style, except for the odd use of chibis. The colors are warm and fit the comic. Personally, I think the layout would be much better if the comic were placed on the main page, with a two column layout to allow additional content such as vote and favorites links. The News could be posted below the comic on the main page, replaced by comic comments when navigating the archive.

*Overall Rating: 6
It's a nice start, though a bit disjointed. A little thought and reworking could make this comic shine.


Thank you very much for the review. I'm so excited to know what to work on now. :)