Web Design East London

As a web designer living in East London I recently decided to take a look around at the local scene. A Google search for ‘web design east london’ returns lots of hits and as always the style and quality of the sites varies dramatically. Just for fun I’ve decided to rate the first five entries on google.

  1. www.iamhuman.co.uk
  2. www.minttwist.com
  3. www.fraserwebdesign.com
  4. www.visualeze.net
  5. www.touchtaboo.com

I will rate the sites based on 5 categories: usability, portfolio, information, design and ranking.

Usability

Usability refers to how easy it is to find important information and navigate around the site. Good usability includes having a clear and intuitive navigation system, having text that is easy to read, and prominently displaying important contact information.

Portfolio

This is highly subjective. I will look at the sites displayed on their portfolio and quickly judge the quality. Although the quality of a site can’t be truly gauged from a quick glance, on the web that is all the time you are allowed.

Information

On the web content is king. A site is nothing without information, it is after all what your users are after. I will be looking for information about pricing, best practices, company history and employees, etc. I also believe that it is important to try to educate clients on web design best practices, and will look for evidence of this.

Design

Again this is highly subjective. I’m not just looking for pretty graphics, a strong layout that displays the content in an easy to digest way is more important. Deign principle such as layout, colour theory, unity, balance, typography, etc. will all be examined.

Ranking

Lastly I will allocate points to each site based on their Google ranking. This deserves to be rewarded as it is not easy to obtain high positions in search engines. Especially for competitive terms.

iamhuman.co.uk

This site is a real mixed bag. I’m not sure that the company still operates as the latest news story is from 2007.

The first impression isn’t great. The layout of the page is uncomfortable. It is aligned to the left of the screen and the background image doesn’t fill the viewport. The page content just falls off the bottom into white space. The strange Flash backgrounds I found distracting and a little amateurish.

The colour scheme doesn’t work well for me either, the green and red just don’t cooperate.

From a usability standpoint, the text is a little small but the main nav is clear and intuitive. Text is generally easy to read despite the size). Unfortunately, a couple of pages have broken navigation sections where there are clearly some coding issues.

There is plenty of information on the site. There are lots of examples of their work. Unfortunately, I felt that most of the web designs were a bit out dated and some sites don’t work at all. I only checked the web design section, as anyone searching ‘web design east london’ would be looking at this category.

Usability – 6/10

Portfolio – 5/10

Information – 7/10

Design – 3/10

Search Ranking – 10/10

Total – 31/50

www.minttwist.com

Although not actually based in east london, minttwist have done some clever SEO to get right up to the top for this search term. First impressions are good. The site is packed with information but it doesn’t feel too cluttered. the home page features core services, ‘why choose us?’ and ‘Our Goals’. The main navigation is detailed and well organised.

Usability on this site is great. It’s easy to get around, easy to read and there are few distracting graphics.

When I clicked on Web Portfolio I was taken to the Portfolio page. From here I clicked again on Web Portfolio and was then taken to an error page. When browsing the portfolio I was sometimes directed to the wrong website, or to an error page. Aside from that, these guys have some impressive clients on there. For my tastes the designs are a little generic.

minttwist has loads of information on the site. It is all easily accessed from the main nav bar and contains links to some useful external resources.

I touched on the site design earlier. It’s nice and clean and well organised and structured. However, I found it to be lacking any personality or creativity. It’s a bit too standard looking, with very little to set it apart.

Usability – 8/10

Portfolio – 6/10

Info – 8/10

Design – 7/10

Ranking – 9/10

Total – 38/50

www.fraserwebdesign.com

I’m not sure what to do about this one. The designer has re-branded and you are now asked to go through to the new site. How many people will do this? I’m not sure. Ok, I’ll be nice and review his new site, frishmedia.co.uk.

Usability is good. The site is simple and very easy to navigate. Despite being light on dark, I found the text easy to read.

The portfolio is ok. He has lots of designs to exhibit and I’m sure some will enjoy the scrolling mac style viewer. Again, I found the sites on there to be a little generic with lots of stock style imagery. This is potentially down to low budgets.

This site isn’t packed with info but all the necessary information is included. He has included his terms and conditions which I liked. It shows a degree of openness and transparency.

I like the design of the site. the colour scheme is really eye catching, the layout is simple and consistent and graphical elements are subtle and stylish.

Usability – 8/10

Portfolio – 6/10

Information – 6/10

Design – 7/10

Ranking – 8/10

Total – 35/50

www.visualeze.net

This site is a mystery to me. Firstly the name ‘visualeze’ suggests that things will be easy. They won’t.

The usability on this site is seriously lacking. What I thought was a difficult to read main nav, turned out to be tag lines and not navigation at all. There seems to be some effort to be highly accessible, which is commendable, but I was confused with the numbers and letters beside the nav items on the left.

The sections are very confusingly named. For example I eventually found the portfolio under ‘Creativity’. Once there, there were only four examples of websites and they were predictably poorly designed, with no information on the projects.

There is a fair amount of information on the site, from ‘Hosting’ to ‘Pay per Click Advertising’. Again though, these are listed under strange headings like ‘Productivity’ and ‘Communication’, instead of something like ‘Our Services’.

The site is really let down by the design. It looks like it could have been designed using MS Word. There is a loose colour scheme based around black and orange but then there are weird additional colours like the maroon and light blue. Layout is good and the style is generally consistent and there are no distracting visuals; so overall readability is good.

Usability – 4/10

Portfolio – 3/10

Information – 6/10

Design – 3/10

Ranking – 6/10

Total – 22/50

www.touchtaboo.com

We’re ending on a high here. Touch Taboo is a really good example of an agency site.

The site is easy to navigate with a simple and well positioned main nav. The white background and dark text makes sure the content is legible.

The portfolio is the best of the bunch. The image viewer looks great and the work that it displays is of a high quality. My only issues here are with the lack of any project information, and that the image browser arrows are hidden until rollover.

There isn’t much information on the site. Not necessarily a bad thing as it is straight to the point and people’s attention spans on the web are notoriously short. A bit more detail on the portfolio pieces would have been useful. The blog does contain some good articles for potential clients and social integration is obviously something the designer has embraced.

The design is very current. It is nicely structured, the colour scheme is strong, the images are bold and colourful and the typography is well executed. My only real criticism is that it is a little too ‘safe’ and unoriginal. Again, not necessarily a bad thing, many clients will be attracted by the corporate feel.

Usability – 8/10

Portfolio – 8/10

Information – 7/10

Design – 7/10

Ranking – 6/10

Total – 36/50

Conclusion

  1. www.minttwist.com – 38/50
  2. www.touchtaboo.com – 36/50
  3. www.fraserwebdesign.com – 35/50
  4. www.iamhuman.co.uk – 31/50
  5. www.visualeze.net – 22/50

It was a close run thing at the top. The top three sites were all good. Iamhuman was saved by it’s high ranking but I think that it and visualeze could really improve with not much effort.

I guess all this sounds a bit arrogant. What qualifies me to sit here judging my peers? Nothing really! However, I did find this to be a really useful exercise in critical analysis of websites. I’ll have to take another look at my own site and see where I can improve based on these criteria.

Fancy taking me down a peg or two?

I would really like to hear your feedback on this. Do you agree with me? Are you one of the site owners? What do you make of my site? Please use the comment form below.

All sites viewed in Firefox on Mac OSX.

These are the personal opinions of Keith Devon and are only a superficial and subjective view on the sites examined.

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One Response to “Web Design East London”

  1. Elliott King

    Thanks for the interesting article Keith!

    Broadly I think your analysis and conclusions were well thought out with points well made (although I would say that because I am a Director of the winning Company – MintTwist 🙂 ).

    Cross-referencing this info with sites that these companies have made for their clients would probably give a fuller picture of the competences of all the agencies – I know some smaller agencies who do good work for clients but neglect their own sites.

    Reply

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