I’m a fan of libraries. I wish they’d hurry up and get on the eBook bandwagon so I could get titles on my Kindle, but that’s another post. The Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library is regarded as one of the largest and best in the nation. The same can not be said for its website. In fact, not a lot can be said for many public library websites that I went digging around on.
To their credit, IMCPL’s website is quite functional. So much so, it’s pretty obvious it was designed by developers. It’s all there, but that doesn’t mean I don’t find myself getting irritated by things on their site. And, I bet they’ve done quite a bit of work to support ADA guidelines, too.
The current site
They’re some key things I don’t care for:
The image slider has 7 slides to it that all scroll too fast. Probably because they were trying to show people all the content, but it makes it hard to read. I did away with it all together.
The page, as in where the content actually exists among all that blue, is small. It feels very cramped.
The colors are clearly straight from a committee. I don’t think IMCPL really has any serious feelings toward their marketing colors, at least from what I see. In fact, I don’t really see them doing any marketing, which is a shame because a majority of this city has probably never used their branch library (I have a book about Pixar on my desk now and a book of notes from Mitch Daniels on the way from the Irvington branch).
Here now, is my redesign work in under 60 minutes (my standard redesign period for these little experiments):
Known Issues & Other Thoughts
Maybe there needs to be a way to login to your account on the homepage. I didn’t put it there because I suspect they probably have issues with people signing in at the libraries, on public computers, and forgetting to sign off. It’s a feature, not a bug.
I’m not satisfied with the location of the RSS / Bookmark / Facebook / Twitter buttons. They were an afterthought after I noticed they actually have those things listed on the current site in teeny tiny text in the footer.
I split up the image slider by just putting images around on the site. I’m not sure if that was a good idea or not.
Yes, the logo is blurry. I wanted it bigger but obviously don’t have access to an EPS of it. And, I’ll add one real personal thought: I’ve never seen a more unimaginative logo for such a large, public-facing organization.
I thought these colors were relatively more inviting and warmer, as if you wanted to go read after seeing them. There’s some texture built in that’s probably hard to see on the screenshot, too. The texture lends to the appearance of paper.
The bookmark motif on the left side of the page is interesting, I think. Part of me wouldn’t mind seeing some depth to the design to make it look like it’s on a stack of papers in a book, but I decided not to push my luck (or time).
They actually have more room now. Quite a bit, actually. They could insert more new movies, books, downloads, etc. to feature in the middle of the page or re-arrange some items to fill the thing with new arrivals, al-la Amazon.
When you hover over a page name in the menu on the left, a little highlighter mark appears underneath on the hover state.
GoDaddy.com is widely regarded as one of the most popular, albeit below-average, services for web hosting, domain name registration, email, SSL certificates and they probably make a lot of money on those crappy website builders, too.
I use GoDaddy’s services. I have for years and I’ve always just stuck with it because everything was so cheap and, largely, worked well for what I needed. Support is always handy and available all the time –I even called on Christmas day once. They speak English, too, which is always a plus.
But, throughout the years I’ve endured what is also regarded as one of the most difficult to navigate websites on the Internet. It’s absolutely horrid the amount of upselling they push, the number of things moving and flashing and spinning and swirling. In all honesty, I think GoDaddy has some fine designers and developers on their staff. I really do. If you look at things individually on their site, it looks ok. But, it’s when you piece things together that it becomes a real nightmare. I’m convinced they’re good people with great talent that are being dictated to by marketers and managers. It’s an attempt by higher-ups to cram as much information as possible into every part of their website. It’s gotten better over the years, but it’s still a drain. To make any good headway, they need a complete overhaul of their entire site architecture and the way they think about doing business online.
The homepage is arguably one of the better parts of their site, but it still leaves a nasty taste in people’s mouths. So, as part of my Website Nightmares series, I’ve taken a 60-minute attempt at redesigning it. It’s not finished, by a long shot, but I think it’s a little better and a good head start. The navigation is much cleaner, the domain search feature is a bit easier to find and isn’t covered up by the massive drop-down menu that the site currently has, which is probably priority #1 for anyone going there. I kept the bottom navigation menu of the site because I thought it was ok as-is, but removed much of the footer of the existing site all together (not seen in the screenshot).
The GoDaddy.com Website Redesign
Here’s the before:
And the after, with 60 minutes of work:
You can see that I ran out of time to devote to the area just to the left of the domain search box. One big functionality I would change is account logins. Now, when you go to the site and enter your login details it just dumps you right back on the homepage, which is mostly useless. I’ve never logged in and NOT wanted to go to the “My Account” section of the site, but for some reason they have a separate button their existing navigation menu for that. If you click it, you still have to login on that page. It adds 2-3 extra clicks that aren’t necessary. In my world view, you login at the top of the homepage and it takes you to your account management. If you’re returning and it knows who you are, but it’s been long enough you need to login again, it does show you how many domains and accounts are expiring soon. Right now, I have 8 domains about to expire. Ironically, it also tells me sometimes that my hosting account is about to expire soon, too. Except, it’s paid for for another 4 years.
In my layout, there needs to be a discussion about the navigation elements. Currently, GoDaddy’s site has a massive mega-dropdown with dozens and dozens of choices, mostly for things no one has ever used. Or at least should use.
I particularly love re-designing old websites. One of my clients recently bought out another company and they wanted a separate web site and didn’t have access to any new logos or photos. They were looking for it to be quick, too, because they don’t want to invest a whole lot in marketing until they know it’ll take off. The old site also had everything inserted as an image. Every bit of text was just a flat JPG. Here’s the old site:
As part of my Website Nightmares, first up is Indianapolis Power and Light, with a website that appears to have been largely committee-driven. Some of the issues here include:
Search box relegated to the bottom of the page.
No direct login box to pay your bill, the #1 reason why anyone would visit this site.
A lot of repeating links and text that waste space. They’re at least 3 links on the homepage to show power outages (which is somewhat silly to have online because how would you check for an outage if you’re without power?)
The site uses frames. A lot.
The site is squished into a frame size that’s way too small and is top-left aligned to the browser view window.