Criticise my Blog
There are several issues that I would like your opinion on: see http://www.conflictoflaws.net
a) Font-type – I’m using Garamond. Bear with me! It’s a law site, so something near an academic journal is the effect we’re trying to achieve. Has this hit the mark?
b) Font-size – the problem with Garamond is that it is rather difficult to read. So I’ve enlarged it somewhat (85% base font size). Does it look too big, or is it just right to your eyes (mine are somewhat old and tired).
c) General cleanliness, etc. I’m not going for beauty, but calm simplicity. I’m taken the veryplaintxt theme and done some modifying to get it where I want. Does it look decent to you, or utterly disgusting?
d) Any other comments. Please give me any and all comments you have – bad or good. I promise I won’t get defensive…much.:)
First thing I’d do is have far fewer posts on the main page. (Options -> Reading, top option).
a) I think you’ve hit your mark
b) My middle-aged (ugh) eyes had no issues. Maybe make the sidebar fonts a bit smaller? The recent posts titles in particular (and maybe there could be fewer of those listed?)
c) It’s not hideous, but… I’d try and find more white space. Perhaps a bit more margin between the sidebar and the main content. Maybe even a bit more between posts as well? Not sure, exactly, but to me it tends to all run together.
Clean, yes – but I’m with Handy, more neg space would be better. I don’t mind a considerably smaller fontsize myself….
Only thing I’m really not thrilled with is the light green and light teal against the white for links. It “fades” too much.
Many thanks for the comments.
I’ve increased the space between the sidebar and main content. Not sure how to go about delineating between posts a bit more – I think there’s probably enough white space. Maybe a horizontal dividing line?
The green colour is, I’m afraid, here to stay; that’s the colour of the Journal itself.
I could make the font in the sidebar smaller. Thoughts?
You still didn’t address the worst thing = a mile long entry page.
Cut down the number of posts shown!
I don’t think that’s viable, moshu.
One has to be aware of one’s readership; the vast majority of people that visit the website are not particularly blog-literate, and this is endemic in the academic legal profession. Which is why very big, successful blogs like the Legal Theory Blog – http://lsolum.typepad.com/legaltheory/ – seemingly go on forever.
It’s also what Scoble does – http://scobleizer.com/ – so I can’t be in that bad company. 🙂
Assuming anyone thinks Scoble is a viable role-model…. in any case, number of posts on the blog main page, as I said, is personal pref – and in your case, probably based on readership.
Perhaps the irony in my comparison with Scoble didn’t come across very well…
In any event, I agree; it really is based on a website’s needs, and the needs of the readership.
Oh, sorry! No, it didn’t, at least I didn’t “get it” (of course, you would have to know me, know that I tend to take things at face value, and that if I’M joking or being facetious or ironic, I will always use *laughing* etc. to indicate…. which of course you could not possibly have known just reading around here I’m sure….)
So thanks, yes, I do agree with the irony!
The fonts, colors and layout are a great imitation of legal journals print style. The thing about the web is it’s so easy to enhance readability in comparison to dry legal whitesheets, but if you must imitate the style then you’ve done well.
I don’t particularly like how the itaclics dateline disappears from under the headline, when you click from homepage to the single post page. I think it might look better to be consistent and leave the same dateline there instead of having it in the box at the end of the post.
1 outside recommendation is, try the WP-Print plugin from Gamerz. With this, you can provide not only a nice Printable version of every post, but also some people could choose to read the Print version on screen. The Print version uses it’s own CSS. So you can offer a Print view that’s a different font, or even-larger Garamond that goes fluid 90% full screen width (easy enough to drag the browser skinny if you prefer to read the short line-length for long articles). I don’t think the plugin has the ability, yet, to put the post in 2 columns on a page, but that would be great for the westlaw casebook look.
Also, check out the faint amount of color and illustration that A List Apart uses on their current design, for example the tan block-quotes,
Seems like there’s another site I saw with cleaner serif font, it wasn’t quite as wide as your font, but maybe even more linespace. If I think of the URL I’ll post here.
I disagree with the suggestions to reduce your number of posts. A mile-long page is exactly what legal readers are used to, and makes a Control-F to find a word very easy. Easier to keep hitting Page Down, than to mouse to some page nav. You wouldn’t want this many posts on the homepage if you used more graphics in posts because of load times, but for text it’s fine. There isn’t a measuring stick for the vertical length of a webpage, it depends on your priorities.
I think it would be an easier read if blockquotes were a different color font (green?) or had a shaded background.
Your site could look very nice with a few adjustments.
Font-type – It’s a bit overwhelming. Maybe experiment with just the header in Garamond and use a serif font easier to read like Times for the rest of the site. You don’t want to mix your fonts, but your header can be different.
Font-size – the header font is too big; the size of the rest is a little too big, but might be improved by changing the body font to Times so you can go smaller, or going down a size in Garamond – including in the sidebar headings.
General cleanliness: the site is simple, but it is not calm. There is not enough spacing between everything, and nothing is grounded. I think the site could benefit from the sidebar being clearly delineated somehow. Many modern sites let it float, but they place the sidebar to the right so the text creates its own straight vertical line to separate it from the body.
Any other comments
For the sake of cleanliness and calm:
1 The top of the site feels a bit bunched. Maybe add some padding above the header and some padding between the header and the body.
2 Consider extending the black lines beneath the header all the way over on each side, and moving the Hart publishing graphic into the sidebar
3 Consider separating each post with a thin, dotted or solid line – again, making a clear separation and grounding each post
4 Consider not using all caps: not for tags, headings, site title, “Filed in”, etc. It is very “in-your-face”.
5 Consider using the “Read more” link for long posts. You have a lot of text in some of your posts, and you can cut the posts off at strategic points to entice the reader to click for more.
6 If this is to be simple, calm, and intellectual, consider using different link colors – darker, more grey, more subdued colors – including for your hover color.
7 The site might benefit from a background color (light grey for example) that makes the actual webpage a crisp, professional white sheet of paper so to speak.
Hope this helps. You helped me a good deal, and I have since made the other changes recommended.
This is very helpful – many thanks.
I’ve changed the main content to Times New Roman, with the header staying in Garamond. How does that look? It’s certainly easier to read.
Sidebar. I’ve increased the space between it and the content. I don’t really want to add a line if at all possible. Does the content not create an equally dividing line by being justified at the left-hand margin?
I think a dividing line in between posts is the way to go – does someone have any pointers on a nice line, perhaps with a swirl or flourish at the ends? I could host an image of such a line, I suppose…
The links colours I will certainly play around with – see if I can come up with a more subtle variant.
I cannot really use the Read More tag – for the same reason that there are a lot of posts on the main page. Most people simply won’t click the Read More.
I cannot bump the Hart logo down either, I’m afraid; they do sponsor the site to a fair amount, and it was their choice where the logo went.
Wow, that looks a lot better. It is much more readable.
I might still try lowering the header just a little so it is not pushed up against the top edge of the screen.
This isn’t necessarily WP, but what Serif font are they using on the single-article pages of this site?
The serif font is very legible, easy to read.
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