When you’re reviewing Elvis Presley websites there’s one website you cannot overlook and that’s the Official Elvis Presley website from Graceland, maintained by Elvis Presley Enterprises. In this review we’ll take a closer look at the Graceland site. Is it heaven on the WWW for Elvisfans?
The site opens with an entrypage with a popup attending us on the possibility to listen to this month’s streaming RealAudio tracks. We think the popup is irritating, especially since most Elvisfans are regular visitors of the site and know this, but at least it’s your choice to listen to the music and not the webmaster deciding it for you. Furthermore the entrypage offers (direct) links to subpages on the site with news about the worldtour, the Christmas celebration at Graceland and Elvis’ birthday-party on January 8, 2000. Normally these pages would open next to the mainmenu.
The site states to be made for generation 4 browsers and an 832 x 624 screenresolution. Especially the last statement is strange since that is a screenresolution for the Macintosh, which system is used by an impressing 2% of the Internet-users.
When you get on the mainpage you find a simple frameset for menu and content. The menu is grey and the mainpage is white with (sometimes) a black and white background. The content is mainly text-orientated which makes it really fast, but it is displayed in a small column which makes the page very long to scroll down. Especially with the biography a lot of scrolling is needed.
As stated before, the design is for made for 832 x 624 (close to the most used resolution 800 x 600), which is good for most standard monitors, but viewing the page using a higher resolution shows a lot of empty space. That’s a pity: centering the site might take away the attention from it, especially on the entrance, where only about 25% of the screen is used.
The order of the menu items is very strange. Starting with a site map, while you have to search for the subject of the page, Elvis Presley, and the news doesn’t make any sense to us. It is really hard to find your way around the menu, even when you’re a regular visitor.
A pro of the site is the well designed sitemap which shows the site structure. This map is useful since it shows better where to find what you’re looking for then the main menu itself. The graphic version from the past used to be better, you could picture the entire site in one view, but even now it still helps you find your way. Also the background of this page shows clearly that the site was built for one particular resolution. The picture is cut off straight at the right, while with a little blurring it would attract less attention.
In our opinion it would be better when Graceland would arrange there site around their product, Elvis Presley. All the sub activities should be hidden behind sub menus. For example don’t put a merchandise link so clearly in view. Only a few visitors will be interested in this item. Overall the number of menuitems is much too large.
A small remark is the URL which is displayed in the address-bar. When you have your own domain-name you should make sure that only that domain is visible in the address bar, not the directory structure.
The site offers both information about The Graceland Mansion (first) and what you can do there and (basic) information about Elvis himself (second). Our conclusion is that the site seems to be more Graceland than Elvis orientated. It reflects the general opinion among fans, that EPE is more interested in the money than in the "product" that makes the money.
Only two of the 21 menu-items refer directly to Elvis Presley, the rest of them to Graceland activities or other commercial (EPE-supported) activities. We would expect more Elvis Presley information and news. This is one of the reasons we started ElvisNews.com. Finally all the information, scattered around the World Wide Web (e.g. on some great fansites) is gathered on one site. A task you expected Elvis Presley Enterprises would fulfil. Of course we do not place everything ourselves, but at least we try to point searching fans into the right direction. Things like national releases, (local) chart-information, (local) books and other around the world. After all we are talking about the World Wide Web, we don’t expect Graceland to put up a site in seven different languages, but looking further than the US of A would be nice for all Elvis’ fans around the world.
The F.A.Q. on this site offers fans a possibility to ask questions about Elvis, his life and music to those who should know the answers. Minor is that the answers don’t go into detail. For example a question about the missing tracks on the Aloha From Hawaii video only states they had to be deleted, not the reason why. Especially the latest is the kind of information we would expect to find on an "official" site.
There is pretty much basic Elvis-information like his life and achievements, but nothing really special as you might expect from this particular site.
One big pro of the policy EPE follows on their site with providing so little news, is that it is almost always true and up to date.
We understand the EPE cannot monitor the entire WWW, and has some legal restrictions, but regarding their own disclaimer on their linkspage "Graceland is not responsible for the content or functionality for the sites listed here, with the exception of Elvis Presley's Memphis", we wonder why there are no links to other Elvis sites. No links to fan sites, but not even to the official sites of his recordcompany or other licensed Elvis-related sites like MGM.
Split the menu into different subjects, e.g. Elvis Presley, Graceland the Mansion (tour info and such), information for the fans and EPE- and other commercial activities.
With long pages like the biography, it might be a good idea to break up the page into 3 or 4 parts. For instants, pre 50's, the 50's, 60's and 70's. This will improve readability.
The former sepia design of the site was maybe dull, but a lot more attractive and at least better designed and more consequent than the current layout. Try to get that clear structure back, because the huge number of menuitems and subpages make the navigation around the site difficult.
It seems that the main public of the site, Elvis fans using a PC with 800x600 resolution, is not kept in mind. Of course other users, like those using Macintosh, Webtv and other systems should have no trouble viewing the site, but keep the main public in mind!
At least for Elvis Presley there is an official page, but it could be improved in both content and design. Our conclusion is that this site offers the basic knowledge about Elvis and give fans a good starting point.
We are glad to present Elvis Presley's Graceland our 1 Star Award.