Critiqing Lethe Bashar


Lethe Bashar recently asked me to review his sites. (Well... using a loose definition of "recently" that is). For now, I'll be critiquing layout and readability and not the actual writing.

Here are the notes I made when looking at and reading your sites. First, I'll start with the spain blog fiction, Lethe Bashar in Spain.

Looking at the sidebar, the "Share!" and "Subscribe!" bars include all of the social network options. Why specifically add Digg, Technorati, and Use the bars or don't use them and you can clean up some more clutter. Also, I think the StumbleUpon picture is plenty, I don't think you need the text link right after it.

No reason for the "site meter" to be in the sidebar is there? I would put it on the bottom. Speaking of the bottom, your blogrush box looks kind of funny down there. You may want to get the "skinny" version and put it in your sidebar.

I like the novel link at the top. I also like the "about me" introducing yourself and your project. Why did you get rid of it?

It of course makes sense to have a list of links to your other sites, but you may want to really differentiate the one to the Vegas, and "History of Lethe" sites since it's part of the same story\universe. Speaking of the Vegas site, I don't think there is a reason to have a feed from your Vegas site. I can't think of a "use case" for it. If someone is savvy enough to check one site for updates, they'll probably check the other one. Or, better yet, will probably have subscribed to both of them already. "The Philosopher's Tidbit" feed makes sense since an article title might grab some reader's attention.

Actually, speaking of links, all of that text seems really tiny to me. Are you creating this on a 800x600 res monitor? Maybe my eyes are getting old. I'll have to ask someone else to chime in with their opinion. In the same manner, what font are you using? Either the font seems hard to read or the background makes it harder to read. I'll also ask if anyone else is having that problem.

I like the navigational layout of this specific blog. Easy access to archives, next\previous post on individual posts. All of that deserves mass kudos.

Next is the Vegas part of your blog fiction.
I don't really have any new criticisms for this one. I like the layout a lot more. I'll just repeat some of the points from the Spain blog.

  • Probably don't need the Spain blog feed
  • Again, I think the link text is hard to read, but the content text is easier to read - so maybe it is the background color that makes the Spain blog hard to read
  • Differentiate the Story blogs from your "other" sites.
  • This one is also easy to navigate.
For both of them, I would make this link a lot more pronounced. Especially, if you aren't going to include a brief explanation\intro in each of your sidebars. I read about 6 or 7 posts in both of the spain and vegas blogs and still wasn't sure which one, chronologically, came first. It wasn't until I found that page that I figured it out and found on that there was another prequel to the stories. Making clear which comes first can matter to readers, especially new ones.

So those are my critiques for Lethe's sites. I hope they were all constructive. Does anyone have any other constructive critique's for Lethe?


Lethe said...

Dear Dustin,

Having recently begun publishing on the Internet, one of the things I've noticed about bloggers is how willing they are to critique your work and offer advice. There seems to be a democratic spirit of helping each other out, as if the individual works of fiction were really also part of a larger communal effort.

You and your work on "Blog Fiction"
exemplifies this spirit of communal creativity and critique. I want to thank you for posting my sites and then going on to offer worthwhile criticism.

I have made every change you suggested with the exception of the print size on Lethe in Vegas, which I can't change unless I tinker with the html and I'm not about to do that right now. I've switched over to an entirely different template on Lethe in Spain and added a picture. The only thing I'm still unsure about is the colors; but I'm not too worried.

On both sites I've done what you've suggested about putting the "Novel of Life" sites together on the sidebar and about the "Cover Page". In addition, I removed most of the clutter that you talked about.

I believe these changes will increase readibility and ultimately bring more people to my sites. Without an outside observer, I would have never been able to know these things. For this I am extremely grateful.


DustinM said...

I'm glad I could help Lethe. The sites look sharp. Here's to attracting a large and loyal readership.

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