Website design for gaming community


Am I loosing the plot or is my friend wrong?

Basically trying to come up with a concept for a web design.

Here is my first go:
All pretty simple, just main ideas down.

I've now developed it into this:

One of the guys in the community says he prefers the first one. Am I really that bad that I can't tell which is better? I'm finding I like alot of my work but others are not too keen..?

Any opinions would be great! :icon_rolleyes::icon_wink:
The second one feels a little constricted for web for my liking. I can see there is room to add content with the first one but it does feel a bit like you are designing yourself into a corner. As far as the graphical elements go I prefer the second one though. I do think the drop shadows are taking over a bit mind you. Neither is ready to be a website quite yet.

Do you plan out your websites using wireframe techniques at all?
I think it's difficult to make any judgement until you've filled it with dummy content.

Here's my opinion on what you've come up with so far:
1. The logo takes up far too much space and it looks quite dated. By having the logo footprint so large, you are forcing the majority of visitors to scroll the page to read any content.
2. You need to develop the style of the buttons, graphics, and images. You also need to introduce another colour - the black and grey are not very eye-catching.
3. I'm not keen on the varying widths on the second version.
4. The style of the intro text needs refining.
5. The read more button looks extremely dated.
6. There is nothing in the visuals to suggest it's a gaming website.

I realise that there are varying degrees of skill-level on this forum but really, these visuals could have been created in 10 mins.

You need to spend a lot more time developing your ideas so that you have enough information to make a decision on which route you'd prefer.

BTW, sorry for trashing your work - hopefully you'll be able to move the design up the the next level.
Thanks for the feedback!

Don't worry about trashing my work, although it is quite hard to hear at first I know in the back of my mind if nobody tells me I'd never learn from any mistakes that I make! I'm only 19 so have plenty of time to get the jist of things!

I'll post up a revision when its done.

@corrosive - no I don't use any wireframing. Is there any software you recommend?
@corrosive - no I don't use any wireframing. Is there any software you recommend?

Nope, pen and paper should do it (if you really want to do it with software then Microsoft Visio is pretty good). Just plan out menus, what pages will hang off it, how much content there will be on each page and so on. It just avoids the 'design cul-de-sac'. Here is a quick article to get the idea; Web Site Wireframes – Samples, Examples : FatPurple
Finally finished it, also I some how managed to make it in html/css. Please dont criticise the coding, I know its bad. :D

Any opinions on the design? Thanks