Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Review: Ebay.com (Grade B-)

Ebay. Most people have heard about it, or used it. It definitely qualifies as a Useful site. They supply an excellent service to consumers by having such a well used auction site. People are able to use the service to sell, buy, or just browse around. They have several payment options, and decent listing and commission fees.

The company, Ebay.com, offers its visitors a huge assortment of products that they can purchase online. However, I found that Ebay may need to do a little upgrading on their website practices if they want to have even more customers.

Here's the grade and the reasons why.

WEBSITE GRADE FOR: Ebay.com


A = USEFUL CONTENT (4cr)
B = APPEALING DESIGN (3cr) (The layout is a bit too colorful in some places, and I would like to see a bit more refinement in their general layout.)
B = EASE OF NAVIGATION (3cr) (Moderately easy to navigate. However, it tends to vary by category section, and people like pages that feel the same so they know where to click.)
C = VALID CODE SYNTAX (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View Validator Well, finding 159 errors on a the main page of website is not so great. Their subpages are not coded much better. I've seen worse, but I definitely would like to see the code cleaned up and some better technologies used.)
F = DISABILITY AND BROWSER ACCESS (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View this Validator, it came up with many many more problems that should be fixed. There were 97 unset image command tags on the main page, and most did not have their proper alt text. That is not conforming to Disability Access standards (WAI), and it slows down page loading time. This site is another that was obviously designed only for people using Windows and Internet Explorer also, because there are no fonts used that are compatible with Mac OS, and the webpage has multiple errors for Netscape and Opera browsers. However, it also caused errors in the most current version of Internet Explorer, so I may reconsider and say that it is just poor coding in general.)
A = FINDABILITY (3cr) (Excellent. No meta tag errors. But then, most people know about eBay anyway.)
C = FRUSTRATION LEVEL (3cr) (There were two broken links, and the site would take approximately 21.6 seconds to load over a 28.8 kbps network connection. That is about 10 seconds too long, and its also assuming that the users browser doesn't lock up over the two HTML parse coding errors, and the unclosed code tags on the page. Again, I suggest fixing the code and marking up the images properly so that the page displays faster. The HTML code alone takes up 41.2k, which could be compressed to 38.3k (saving 7% of the page size and increasing speed. Every little bit counts when you are in business on the web.)




Total Possible Credits = 20 Total Possible GPA = 4.0
Total Quality Points Given = 56

Total Website GPA = 2.8 (B-)

~Review conducted by WebsiteStyle.com~

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Article: Why do so few people use proper web coding?

When I speak to people about the revolutionary changes that occur EVERY day on the Internet, people are often surprised and curious enough to hop online and see for themselves. However, when I talk to web developers about the Internet, they typically react one of three ways...

1. They stare at me with a blank look when I use the terms DTD, XHTML and CSS.
2. This shift in their chairs uncomfortably, making it very obvious that they know about these things, but haven't taken the time to learn them, or they don't use them.
3. They jump right into the conversation and start chatting it up with someone who -also- knows what major changes are taking place online.

So, why are most people unaware? Let me explain. First of all, many people don't use proper web coding standards because it takes work to change. People don't like change.

Second, there are a great many web developers who do not feel they have the time to learn how. Perhaps they don't. It used to be, about 10 years ago, that a single Web Master would create and run the website for a company. That really is not the case any longer. There are multiple distinctions, and new job categories that have been created in recent years. There are now:

Web Designer (Usually purely involved in the design element of a page, such as the graphics and perhaps even animation. That can vary.)

Web Master / Network Administrator (Usually involved in the maintenance of the Network for larger companies, and is often an outsourced position, or one whose duties are placed on the Web Developer also, for small companies.)

Web Developer (Usually this is the person who does the website coding, changes, and updates. They have to stay up-to-date on all the emerging and vital technologies such as XHTML, CSS, PHP, CGI, and Javascript, as well as knowing and following the rules for the WAI. Overall, a web developer has a hard and busy job.)

SEO Expert (Some companies are choosing to outsource or hire an SEO Expert to help them with the Search Engine Marketing, and Advertising. Unfortunately, in many small and medium sized businesses this job is also given to the Web Developer.)

There are other positions that have been created also, but that allowed me to illustrate the problem. For companies that are not able or willing to outsource or hire people specialized in various areas... the Web Developer has to do it all.

I think its very important for businesses to begin to understand that they should include outsourcing, or they will severely overburden their Web Developers during this time of extreme technological growth.

If companies give their Web Developers the time to learn what they need to know to keep up to date, their company will have an employee with the skill to make them a website with functionality that separates them from their business competitors.

Perhaps it is something to think about...

~Article by WebsiteStyle.com ~

Monday, June 28, 2004

Review: Gutenberg.net (Grade A-)

One of the largest and most active, publically assisted, and free resources for ebooks on the Internet is Project Gutenberg. The Project was founded by Michael Hart in 1971, and it has continued to prosper based only on volunteer efforts and donations. They have over 10,000 eBooks, and are helped and hosted by Ibiblio.

Project Gutenberg offers internet users the ability to read online, download, print, etc... books in an all text format or various other formats that are easy to read. They also publish a smaller collection of movies and music. This resource is very valuable to the internet community, and has continued to prosper and add books regularly.

This site is incredibly useful, highly organized, follows strict standards of development, and is Free! Here's the grade and the reasons why.

WEBSITE GRADE FOR:
Gutenberg.net


A = USEFUL CONTENT (4cr)
B = APPEALING DESIGN (3cr) (The layout is very clean and simple, which is what you should have for a site which will require the user to do a lot of reading, although it lacks some design elements. There are some options to change the look of the website, but not many.)
A = EASE OF NAVIGATION (3cr) (Very easy to navigate.)
A = VALID CODE SYNTAX (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View Validator The pages are properly designed and conform to HTML 4.0 Strict Rules. Excellent!
B = DISABILITY AND BROWSER ACCESS (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View this Validator, it came up with nearly no problems. There were 1 unset image command tags on the main page, and it had no alt text. There were some problems with Netscape browser access, and opera, and one form command that Internet Explorer does not like. I would like to see this fixed because I am someone who advocates Open Access for the Web.)
A = FINDABILITY (3cr) (Excellent Job on the Meta-Tags! Most people do not put their decriptor tags in multiple languages, but they did. That leads to us being able to find the site easier through search engines. However, it can cause some errors. I would suggest alternate doorway pages for each language as a proper alternative.)
A = FRUSTRATION LEVEL (3cr) (Excellent Job! There were no broken links. Also, the site would take approximately 6 seconds to load over a 28.8 kbps network connection. That's great! However, it looks like they might be able to save another 17.6% on the size of their web page by compressing the code.)


Total Possible Credits = 20 Total Possible GPA = 4.0
Total Quality Points Given = 75


Total Website GPA = 3.75 (A-)

~Review conducted by WebsiteStyle.com~

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Review: A1Wireless.com (Grade C+)

In a time when more and more people are getting cellular phones, there is an increased need for being able to find the best deals. I have found a website that I feel is good for finding a great deal on a phone (in fact, getting paid to get a phone) but doesn't necessarily hold up when it comes to an analysis. They have great deals that should not be missed, but they definitely need to improve their website coding standards. Although the website works, and offers good resources, you will see why I feel it needs improvement.

The company, A1Wireless.com offers its visitors a large amount of options. They can take a look a multitude of different phones from various companies, compare rate plans, and... most of all... not only get a free phone with free shipping... but you also get paid up to $125 (the most I've seen) just to get one of the phones!

Here's the grade and the reasons why.

WEBSITE GRADE FOR:
A1Wireless.com


A = USEFUL CONTENT (4cr)
A = APPEALING DESIGN (3cr) (The layout is very clean. Simple.)
A = EASE OF NAVIGATION (3cr) (Very easy to navigate, with the ability to click on various logos to change the phone category you want to see.)
F = VALID CODE SYNTAX (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View Validator Oh dear. Well, finding 789 errors on a the main page of website is purely unacceptable. A quick check of one of the subpages yielded 1423 errors. And multiple HTML and BODY start and end tags??? After seeing that, I just stopped looking. What does that tell us? Poor coding, pure and simple.)
D = DISABILITY AND BROWSER ACCESS (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View this Validator, it came up with more problems that should be fixed. There were 88 unset image command tags on the main page, and none had their proper alt text. I would like to see this fixed because I am someone who advocates Disability Access for the Web. Of course, the other bonus is faster loading time with predefined image sizes. This site is obviously designed only for people using Windows and Internet Explorer also, because there are no fonts used that are compatible with Mac OS, and the webpage has multiple errors for Netscape and Opera browsers.)
B = FINDABILITY (3cr) (Pretty decent. But, don't use line breaks in your keywords! It will make it harder for robots to search and index your pages.)
F = FRUSTRATION LEVEL (3cr) (Ack! There were no broken links but... The, the site would take approximately 48.7 seconds to load over a 28.8 kbps network connection. That is WAY too long. A 14.93 second culprit in that large amount is the huge 'refer a friend' image at the bottom that should be compressed. The HTML code alone takes up 51.1k, which could be compressed to 37k (saving 27.6% of the page size and increasing speed. Of course, writing the code properly would save a great deal of space, and setting the image tags also would help.)


Total Possible Credits = 20 Total Possible GPA = 4.0
Total Quality Points Given = 51

Total Website GPA = 2.55 (C+)

~Review conducted by WebsiteStyle.com~

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Review: W3Schools.com (Grade A-)

We received a question asking where to on the net to go to find free HTML instruction. Well, of all the places on the internet today, this is still one of the strongest going sites. It is also one of the most properly done sites, and for a good reason: They not only teach the proper standards so that you learn the Right Way, rather than the quick and messy way, but they use W3 standards, and have won numerous awards for their site (which incidentally gets an average of 1,000,000 hits per day).

Also, W3Schools.com does not just offer free education on HTML programming. They are the ultimate webmasters resource because the teach all of the major components of web design and development. The full list would be quite a long one, and you can see it on their site navigation bar, but I will say that finding a site that teaches HTML, XHTML, CSS, ASP, XSL, SOAP, SQL, PHP, and many many more technologies... all in one place... absolutely amazing and a resource that should be supported in every way (I would encourage you to click on some ads while you are there, just to help them out;).

This site is incredibly useful, highly organized, follows strict standards of development, and is Free! Here's the grade and the reasons why.

WEBSITE GRADE FOR:
http://www.W3Schools.com


A = USEFUL CONTENT (4cr)
A = APPEALING DESIGN (3cr) (The layout is very clean, which is what you should have for a site which will require the user to do a lot of reading. There are ads on the site, but they are arranged in such a manner as to not disrupt your experience much.)
A = EASE OF NAVIGATION (3cr) (Very easy to navigate. The subject areas are listed on the main page, and each category has proper sub navigation. In addition, each tutorial / course allows you to follow a step-by-step format.)
A = VALID CODE SYNTAX (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View Validator How often do you see someone get an 'A' in this? Not very, I can tell you that. But their pages are properly designed and conform to XHTML 1.0 Transitional Rules. Their Cascading Style Sheets also verified as being properly designed. Excellent! But then... I would not expect less from the W3 Schools who teach the W3 standards.
B = DISABILITY AND BROWSER ACCESS (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View this Validator, it came up with very few problems, but some, that should be fixed. There were 9 unset image command tags on the main page, and 3 had no alt text. I would like to see this fixed because I am someone who advocates Disability Access for the Web. Of course, the other bonus is faster loading time with predefined image sizes.)
A = FINDABILITY (3cr) (Excellent Job! There were no errors in the meta tags, and that leads to us being able to find the site easier through search engines, in fact, this site has very high search engine ratings.)
A = FRUSTRATION LEVEL (3cr) (Excellent Job! There were no broken links. Also, the site would take approximately 8.9 seconds to load over a 28.8 kbps network connection. That's simply wonderful.)


Total Possible Credits = 20 Total Possible GPA = 4.0
Total Quality Points Given = 78

Total Website GPA = 3.9 (A-)

~Review conducted by WebsiteStyle.com~

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Review: McAfee VirusScan v8.0 (Grade A-)

I have always had a bit of a predicament with my firewall and virus scan programs. They don't get along. In fact, they disagree so much that I have to uninstall one to install the other. However, I'm willing to do that because my firewall program, BlackICE, is the best (in my opinion), so I felt it was worth the effort of uninstalling it every month, installing a virus scan program, and running the scan, uninstalling the virus scan program, and reinstalling my BlackICE software. Whew! Finally an end to that!

McAfee has come out with VirusScan v8.0 and it is fully compatible with BlackICE. I'm truly thrilled, and the new VirusScan works great. The new version has tons of added features: Email Scanning, Instant Message Scanning, two new additions called ScriptStopper™ and WormStopper™, Spyware detection, Windows Explorer Integration, AutoClean of viruses, Self Updating, and more.

Here's the grade and the reasons why.

SOFTWARE GRADE FOR:
McAfee VirusScan v8.0


A = USEFUL FEATURES (4CR) (Great features. Simple to use. Has some internal advertising for other McAfee products.)
A = EASE OF INSTALL (2CR) (Perfectly easy to install. Simple install wizard.)
A = COMPATIBILITY (1CR) (Very easy to navigate. The Quiz goes area by area, with a good category breakdown. Simple to follow.)
A = AFFORDABILITY (4CR) (Good price. Under $40.00, and they often have specials. Includes one year of free updates.)
B = MONEY BACK GUARANTEE (3CR) (30 Day Money back guarantee. I'd prefer 60, but 30 isn't so bad.)
A = TECHNICAL SUPPORT (3CR) (Complete Technical Support on the product. Have a complete online section dedicated to support, faq's, and live chat.)
B = UPDATES (3CR) (Updates free for one year with purchase. You have to purchase a yearly subscription to continue after that. It's not bad considering the frequency with which it gets updated with new virus alerts to watch for.)


Total Possible Credits = 20 Total Possible GPA = 4.0
Total Quality Points Given = 74


Total Software GPA = 3.7 (A-)

~Review conducted by WebsiteStyle.com~

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Review: FindYourSpot.com (Grade B+)

While browsing the Internet one long ago day, considering the prospect of moving out of state, I decided to do a search to see what I could find to help me learn more about different places. I was born, raised, and have never moved from my city. I've traveled rarely, and limitedly. When I found this site, I realized I had landed a winner.

FindYourSpot.com really has a great method of helping people discover which places in the US might suit them, on a permanent basis. It's really simple to use. You 'Find Your Spot' by answering a series of questions about your likes / dislikes, needs / wants. It will also give you IMPORTANT information about average home prices, climate, crime rates, schools, and even recreation activities. What's really nice is that I bookmarked my quiz at the end, oh... about a year ago, and I just opened it up again to find all my quiz results still there. Quite nice.

As I said, amazing content, and VERY Useful. Here's the grade and the reasons why.

WEBSITE GRADE FOR:
http://www.findyourspot.com


A = USEFUL CONTENT (4cr)
B = APPEALING DESIGN (3cr) (The main page is Nice and Simple looking. There are a few page breakovers, but nothing major.)
A = EASE OF NAVIGATION (3cr) (Very easy to navigate. The Quiz goes area by area, with a good category breakdown. Simple to follow.)
C = VALID CODE SYNTAX (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View Validator The lack of a doctype declaration is quite unacceptable. This needs to be fixed. I suggest going to: Importance of DocType to learn more.)
D = DISABILITY AND BROWSER ACCESS (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View this Validator, it came up with some problems that should be fixed. There were 10 images on the main page lacking alt text, and 24 browser support conflicts.)
A = FINDABILITY (3cr) (Excellent Job! There were no errors in the meta tags, and that leads to us being able to find the site easier through search engines.)
A = FRUSTRATION LEVEL (3cr) (Excellent Job! There were no broken links. However, the website (total size including all images that must be loaded: 57.3k) was estimated to take approximately 15.9 seconds to load over a 28.8 kbps network connection. That's not bad, especially considering that using the squished version (white space removed) of the webpage that this validation site offers, would save 16.3% on load time.)


Total Possible Credits = 20 Total Possible GPA = 4.0
Total Quality Points Given = 67

Total Website GPA = 3.35 (B+)

~Review conducted by WebsiteStyle.com~

Monday, June 07, 2004

Review: LearnTheNet.com (Grade B)

I came across this site, while hunting around for something to print off to help an elderly relative (who is trying to learn how to use a computer and the Internet for the first time). Being very much a tech myself, I was concerned that I might jump over some basics (some things that I normally assume people know). So, if you are looking for some information for people who are beginners to the Internet, this is a good site to try out. You will find information on how to Surf the Internet, Use Email, Find Information, Download files, Join Newsgroups, and much more.

I found that the Master the Basics section was a great start, and well broken down. I would highly suggest taking a look at all of the links in the 'How To' section on the left navigation bar.

However, though the content is good, the website itself leaves a bit to be desired. Here's the grade and the reasons why.

WEBSITE GRADE FOR:
http://www.learnthenet.com/english/index.html


A = USEFUL CONTENT (4cr)
B = APPEALING DESIGN (3cr) (Nice and Simple looking.)
B = EASE OF NAVIGATION (3cr) (Personally I would suggest moving the Google search box to the right side of the page directly above the banner ad. Then, moving the menu up so that your website navigation is prominent.)
D = VALID CODE SYNTAX (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View Validator, it came up with 270 errors. Although I do not expect most website designers to be able to design a 100% error free site, the error amount was excessive and the lack of a doctype declaration quite unacceptable. This needs to be fixed.)
C = DISABILITY AND BROWSER ACCESS (2cr) (Upon running a validation check on the HTML behind this website, View this Validator, it came up with some problems that should be fixed. All images but one were lacking an alt text.)
A = FINDABILITY (3cr) (Excellent Job! There were no errors in the meta tags, and that leads to us being able to find the site easier through search engines.)
B = FRUSTRATION LEVEL (3cr) (Excellent Job! There were no broken links. However, the website (total size including all images that must be loaded: 78.2k) was estimated to take approximately 21.7 seconds to load over a 28.8 kbps network connection. In that long, your visitor has already left the site. I suggest using an image cruncher so the images load faster, and removing as much whitespace from your code as possible)


Total Possible Credits = 20 Total Possible GPA = 4.0
Total Quality Points Given = 61

Total Website GPA = 3.05 (B)

~Review conducted by WebsiteStyle.com~

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Grading System Explained

Allright... drift back in time (or dream ahead a bit for those of you who are a bit younger) and recall the days of GPA's and you will understand how the grading system works.

The rating results will differ by the type of resource being reviewed. However, you will find that each resource gets a grade for different categories, as well as receiving an overall GPA.

Credit Amounts (CR)
Each Area Being Evaluated has a Credit Amount, which is indicated in parenthesis. (This is the equivalent of each area being a class worth a certain number of credits.)
Letter Grade Per Area
Each Area Being Evaluated is given a letter grade based on how well it did in that area. (The equivalent of your grade for a class.) Each letter has a point value: A=4, B=3, C=2, D=1, F=0.
Total Possible Credits
This is the total amount of possible credits. You get this number by adding the CR value of each area.
Total Possible GPA
This amount is always a 4.0, indicating a perfect score.
Quality Points
This is the total number of the credit amounts multiplied by the point value of the letter grade given, per area.Ex: Area1 is worth 3cr total. You make an A (which is worth 4 points) in the area. Your total quality points are -> 3 * 4 = 12QP. For more than one area, you add the total QP's for each area.
GPA
The GPA is equal to the number of Quality Points (QP) divided by the number of Total Possible Credits.
Total Letter Grade
The Total Letter Grade is based on the Total GPA and uses the following equivalents:
A = 4.0, A- = 3.7
B+ = 3.3, B = 3.0, B- = 2.7
C+ = 2.3, C = 2.0, C- = 1.7
D+ = 1.3, D = 1.0, D- = .7
F = 0.0
Exceptions
There may be exceptions (such as in the case of the 'Perfect' site) in which a grade of an A+ or a 4.3 may be given.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Articles

This is a full listing of the articles written thus far:

Why Do So Few People Use Proper Web Coding?

Elements of Good Web Design

Tutorial - Transitioning to Standards (For the web developer.)

General News

CSS Reboot - Fall 2005 Results
W3C Adds Online Feed Validator.
Amusing Name Change - OSM
Microsoft Gets 'Opensource' removed from Vienna Conclusions
CAPTCHA Accessibility Issues
MIT $100 Laptop - New Updates
Firefox 1.5 Product Review
Linux Survey Results
CSS - When to Embed


More articles are on the way!

If you have a topic you'd like to have discussed, please contact me and let me know. Also, if you have an article you'd like to contribute, feel free to email and talk to me about it.

~Nicole

Websites

This is a full listing of the Website Reviews done thus far. Note: You may want to take a look at the Grading System Explained page.

ImageVenue

Ebay.com

Gutenberg.net


A1Wireless.com

W3Schools.com

FindYourSpot.com

LearnTheNet.com

Have a website that you would like reviewed? Go here to see how to tell me about it.

~Nicole

Contact

Contact Me

Send a Business Email: nicole AT websitestyle DOT com

Send a Personal Email: txnicole AT gmail DOT com

Send a Fax: 928.395.2718

Software

This is a full listing of the Software Reviews done on the site thus far:

PSPad

FreeRAM

Avast!

Firefox

McAfee VirusScan

Have a piece of software that you would like reviewed? Go here to see how to tell me about it.