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Feedback for first site draft?

Hey guys, you may have seen my request for a logo in the tender section, which Glen kindly provided (and did an excellent job with). Now that I have this I've put together a draft in PS of what i came up with having seen the logo.

Background on the site: it-helldecks will be a resource for people making their way into the IT support industry, giving short (hopefully very readable) articles on the basics of an IT helpdesk, generally the entry level IT support position. It aim to give newbies a head start, and tot each them to make a good first impression, and will focus on four main "categories":

  • what a helpdesk generally is and how it all works within the infrastructure of the IT department
  • the personal skills you will benefit from having
  • common tools used
  • technical abilities

I want all the information to be fairly bite-sized. When I look at a page I always skim for maybe a minute before looking for the next thing to click, so the idea is to have lots of smaller, still high-quality articles that focus on very specific things. I personally feel this will let people browse and learn in a sort of breadth first way - they don't need to sit for 5 minutes or so reading just to learn something new. Average article length of the ones I've written so far is about 5 paragraphs.

Now that all that is out of the way, here are the drafts:

The vertical navbar scrolls up and down the black bar with you - i.e wherever you are on the page you can navigate to a new article. I'm not sure yet how I will go about navigating WITHIN those 4 categories - having a CSS scrolldown with all the articles will probably be too much due to the number of articles but I'll work something out. Similarly, the horizontal navbar is placed both at the start AND end of each article - the articles are so short that you will only be a tiny scroll or swipe of your trackpad away from being able to see it.

I've tested this draft out on a few people and they have all agreed with me that their eye is first drawn to the contrast of the red/white/black of the headset earpiece, then drawn up and round the headband to the sites name, then down to the navbar and the content very quickly. To me this seems like a decent first impression, no one seems to be getting lost or overwhelmed by it.

Basically just want some feedback? Do I have a decent concept here or am I going too simplistic? I'm a computer scientist by trade but feel I've got a half decent beginners grasp of simplistic and functional design so hopefully I'm not way out haha. Any criticism is welcome (I'm sure Glen at least will have something to say about me butchering his amazing logo haha).

Things I like about this:
Emphasis on the content
Everything is fairly bold and the important things stand out - the site name/branding and the content, navigation is easy to see and categorises everything simply
Hopefully very readable and usable

Things that maybe need improved in my opinion:
Maybe a bit generic? Not personal enough?
Is the smaller catchline under the logo "turn it off and on" necessary?
Too boring colour scheme?

Thanks a lot guys, always appreciated.


Senior Member
I'll be blunt: It's really bad.

Why is the layout just 640px wide?
Why is the article area less than 500px?
Why is everything so big? Trebuchet bold at 18pt for copy? Massive. 12pt or 14pt for text. 16pt for links. Bold should be used for emphasis only.
Far too much contrast between the black and white areas. It hurts my eyes looking at it.
Thanks so much for the feedback Anagoge - I was clearly seeing what I wanted to see rather than what a reader would see. Thought I was too critical to fall for that one but apparently not... I've made some ammendments as you suggested while still trying to stick to the same concept - blacks are replaced by a less contrasting grey and the text has been toned down. Obviously I'm still not sure what I'm doing with the "turn it off and on" line below the logo, just left it in there for suggestiosn with it. Also made it a size that actually makes sense at 800x600. Hopefully it doesnt make you sick when looking at it now haha? I guess thats what programmers get when they think they can just waltz into design and make something acceptable...



Senior Member
Looking better and the grey helps things be a little less blinding. The copy is better at that size. You might want to consider using the red of the logo ever so subtly in other parts of the design and increase the design elements overall so it's not just two coloured rectangles. In other words, it currently looks like a Windows manual and no one wants to read those even if they're in IT!

For a simple website that your colleagues might go to, I'm sure it'll do, depending on how many articles you're planning on writing. If you're looking for this to be a resource for people on a national/international scale, it's going to need a designer's touch. Nothing special, but just a chisel here and there. That's not me offering my services (though I can if you wanted), it's just that if you're not a designer by profession, you're probably not going to get exactly what you want.

Keep going through a few more revisions though and see what you come up with.
Will do - thanks for getting me out of that mess haha. Looking back at it now I can't believe I didn't see how over the top it all was. I definitely want to try and spruce it up a bit and involve that red more - ill see what I can come up with.

This is never going to be international or even national haha, mainly a little project for myself while at the same time providing a little resource for similar graduates like me in the local city/towns - know a guy in a recruiting agency who specialises in Helpdesk who has a high turnover (basicaly everyone in the industry up here has gone through him at some point) that would probably be willing to put it out there to his clients as recommended reading. Small time but its my first ever project haha!

Thanks again