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Getting Started in the Website Hospital


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#1 Sorvoja

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 02:57 PM

I really appreciate the web site hospital thread, I have leaned a ton of new information just reading through it. It is really an amazing resource. I find it a bit hard to reply to the posts, since I still are unfamiliar with the concept.
If anyone has some points on how to get started apart from the stickies posten I would really appreciate it. Thank you.

#2 Black_Knight

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:13 PM

Well, the main thing we found is that sometimes, when people first come to a forum, you feel a bit guilty about asking tons of questions and not being able to be 'one of the helpers' in return.

The Website Hospital is where anyone who uses a browser, whatever their level of expertise, can help another community member by simply honestly sharing their 'experience' and feeling of his/her site. It doesn't have to be a formal web review - simple market research feedback of how you felt about it is still valuable.

The one thing we do caution though is that we try to make criticism constructive. Don't say "Man, that Logo blows" (especially if it does) :) try to think about what you dislike about the logo, whether it has jaggies, or bad colour combos, or an unreadable font, and make a positive suggestion on what might fix it.

"I found the logo really hard to read with that fancy font, especially with it spinning around in 3d space like that. A simpler logo would have given me more confidence that you were thinking of me, the visitor, and instead I half wondered if the whole page was just so someone could play with their 3d animated logo making software I'm afraid" Still says exactly how you feel about the logo, but gives them a clue about why it is bad and what, for a customer like you at least, would make it better.

That's really it. Its an easy way for anyone to contribute back to the forum, but it is one of the most respected and direct forms of help you can give too.

Thanks for asking for the clarification, and for your interest.

#3 Respree

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:28 PM

If you have a browser and a mouse, you have enough to get started.

I'd recommend, reading through a few Hospital reviews, the ("Tips") link in my sig., then jump right in. While much of the constructive suggestions offered in the Hospital are based on time-proven concepts, much of it is also subjective.

You don't need any qualifications to say, "I thought XYZ technique was a nice touch," or "I didn't care much for that color."

Be gentle when offering your comments, as Ammon advises. It takes a 'lot' of courage to exposure one's soft underbelly to the world. But if you do have the courage, its extremely gratifying to both the reviewer and reviewee.

Actually, its pretty fun. I highly encourage you to just jump right in and give it a try. One day (maybe that's today), you'll need help. Historically, we find the people who get the most help have offered the most help before they've asked for it, but it's your choice.

We get a lot of hit-and-run requests too, but we're happy to help them as well.

It's all about sharing knowledge and helping one another. With each word you write, you not only help the reviewee, but other site owners who may be experiencing the same difficulty.

I think you'll find that as you become an active participant in the Hospital you'll find yourself offering advice to others, then saying to yourself, "Hey, I should do that on my site too."

Jump in. The water is fine.

#4 Jonathan

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:29 PM

The website hospital is the toughest for me to participate in as yet Sorvoja. Am loathe to pass on incorrect information, do not want to come across as arrogant or picky, am still learning about 100 times more from reading the posts in there, than I can contribute.

1 word = overwhelming.

One of the hospital mods Respree is scary, I think he has 6 eyes. He must have.

I am glad you asked the question Sorvoja, because BK's post has given me the confidence to post up there. It has reminded me what the hospital is about - extra eyes.

Edit to add - see what I mean Sorvoja - 1 mention of the hospital and Respree is up there in a hot minute, lively as ever.

#5 Respree

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:35 PM

Only 4 eyes, I'm afraid. :eek:

Edited by Respree, 04 January 2006 - 02:20 AM.


#6 Mano70

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:37 PM

Just one follow up question. I have been one several forums, on some forums there were an "unwritten rule" that if somebody asked for a site review, comments on code and validation shouldn't be done if not especially asked about. On other forums it was expected that this should be commented anyway. An example comment could be recommendation of using CSS-rollovers instead of Javascript rollovers, and a point to the example.

What's the unwritten rule here?

#7 Sorvoja

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:38 PM

Please review my first hospital post:
http://www.cre8asite...p=151491#151491

#8 Black_Knight

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 03:48 PM

Nice review that clearly shows some of the issues in real terms. I especially love how it shows all the trouble you went through, only to find out he doesn't ship outside North America right at the end. That happens all the time, and man do I hate a company that wastes my time with a whole lot of forms only to be told at the end that I needed another site all along.

Yup, if I were the owner of that site it would certainly be quite an eye-opener, and probably a lot more valuable than anyone telling me I'd forgotten to include a doctype declaration or something :)

Mano70, in general, I'd probably mention any code errors, but only really spend much time on ones that are critical (e.g. prevent a site being seen in netscape, or prevent indexing). Its certainly worth mentioning that validation can help to make a site work in a wide variety of browsers. However, there's lots of unvalidated sites that do darned good business, and many search engines themselves don't validate, so I'd not make it too big a deal.

Go with what you want to mention really, but often people are more interested in what you'd think as a potential customer, than in how you'd have designed it differently as a webmaster. That's where the money is after all. :)

#9 randfish

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 04:43 PM

Brilliant thread.

Personally, I often find myself contributing very small pieces of advice that I think are relevant or important in the hospital - even just complimenting the site owner if I think they've done a great job. It may seem like fluff, but I know the feeling designers and developers get when someone posts that they critically reviewed a site and really enjoyed it or felt that the job was well done.

So, in addition to offering full, lengthy reviews as some folks here do, you can also offer a few small suggestions if you back them up with solid stuff.

#10 Respree

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Posted 22 November 2005 - 04:49 PM

Absolutely, Rand.

Once of the really nice things about having a community so diverse in skill sets is that everybody looks at the same thing in a slightly different light.

You could have comments from coders, designers, word-smiths, usability people, css people, ecommerce owners, database gurus and the list goes on and on.

I tend to give longer reviews, only because I can type fast (but not always accccurately), you shouldn't feel compelled to write a long-winded thread - only it you want to.

Even a short comment here or there from these different angles makes for a well-rounded review.

Edited by Respree, 04 January 2006 - 02:21 AM.


#11 travis

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 01:47 AM

Black Knight,

I have reviewed your review of Sorjova's review of Roban's vitamin website, and I was greatly disturbed.

Never before has a vitamin website review been held in such esteem at the forums.

But seriously though, the number of times a global brand will take you through a website in Australia, only to be dumped at the front page of the Australian version to start again is ridiculous. So I agree with getting to the point.

As for code validation, some people come in with 127 code errors. Surely the robots are going to choke on some of the problems. We find that once a site has been code validated properly, it responds a lot better in the SERP's almost immediately.

If you change your DOCTYPE declaration, are there any differences in robot behaviour. Would it distinguish between STRICT and LOOSE for example?

#12 bsaric

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Posted 24 November 2005 - 02:11 AM

As for code validation, some people come in with 127 code errors. Surely the robots are going to choke on some of the problems. We find that once a site has been code validated properly, it responds a lot better in the SERP's almost immediately.  


Thats because code is clear, not because page is valid. You got nice article about indexing here:

http://www.miislita....l/indexing.html

If you change your DOCTYPE declaration, are there any differences in robot behaviour. Would it distinguish between STRICT and LOOSE for example?


I don't think so.



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