Looking back on 6 months ElvisNews.com - Part II
ElvisNews.com has been online for little over one half year. During those six months we reviewed quite a few websites. We dared webmasters to volunteer for a review and used the immortal words of one Arnold Schwarzenegger when they did, "We'll be back". Now the time has come.
Our reviews were honest and had the intention to help webmasters improve their websites. The idea was to give an opinion based on experience as both a webmaster and a visitor of Elvis sites. Let's see what the webmasters did with the reviews we gave them.
One of the first reviews we wrote was the one on Jordan's Elvis World. This one caused quite some commotion because Jordan thought we offended him in public. On one hand this was positive for us, since we got a lot of free publicity, on the other hand it wasn't since it also was negative publicity. When everybody regained their calm the reactions were less emotional and people took the time to really read the review. We got other reactions from professional designers and other Elvis webmasters. We even got an email from Jordan saying he "overreacted" a bit, and looking back he understood our comments on his site. He even added a new menu to his site which improved navigation very much.
The result of this particular review was that our reviews got a certain "status" and not all webmasters and web mistresses were all that keen on putting their websites up for a review by our review team. Those who did or those who were picked by us got an honest review. Like we state on our review page:
" The main object of our reviews is to encourage the webmaster to improve his or her site. We'll try to point to the lacks we find on a site, instead of shouting 'Hallelujah', just because it is about Elvis. We do this in all honesty, disregarding the person behind the site. Even our best friends will be criticized when we think that is necessary. So if you are disappointed by a review, don't let your head hang down, but try at least to consider our comments, and eventually pick up some advice! When we'll notice one of the reviewed sites is reorganized we might come back and reconsider our review".
In this article we won't zoom in on every website, and the "improvements" different webmasters made, but we'll have a general overview on our main comments. in our reviews there are a few points that come back every week:
Does the site (design) look like a "whole"?
How do the webmasters use images?
How is the navigation throughout the entire site?
What's the content of the site?
Does a site have "special features" that add something to Elvis on the WWW?
Do the webmasters really use their "special feature" or "original idea" to make their site stand out from others? Or didn't they work out their ideas?
Do webmasters give their personal opinion or view on their content? You can think about book- or CD-reviews, adding an opinion or information to the links to other websites and so on.
And last but not least, do we see any results on other websites on these points when webmasters read our reviews?
We don't claim to have the "ultimate" knowledge on web design and Elvis content, but like stated above, we do try to improve the general standard on Elvis-sites on the World Wide Web looking at both professional/ commercial and fan sites.
The conclusions we can draw after one half year of reviewing sites are:
Most webmasters we reviewed reacted and understood our remarks. Some reacted in a defensive manner, telling we were all wrong, even asking for a rectification. Others told us they were in the middle of redesigning their site. Of course we believe them, but most sites still haven't been redesigned. A lot of webmasters said they would think about it and have another look at their sites.
We noticed that most improvements were made on the navigation of websites. The "back" button we mentioned quite often is found on many sites now. So are smaller menu's and the use of submenu's to make navigation throughout sites easier for visitors. Good examples of websites where these changes can be found are: "Jordan's Elvis World", "Elvis World" from Japan, "For CD Collectors Only", "Elvis Is Still Active In Norway" and "Elvis Is Alive" from Russia.
The remarks we made about the use of (background-)images and animations and the use of colours were mostly read by the webmasters we reviewed. These remarks were not picked up by other webmasters until we got around to their websites. Perhaps this is a remark that has to be said "personally". Good examples of webmaster who "paid attention" are once again "Elvis Is Alive from Russia" and "Elvis Is Still Active In Norway". Some webmasters contacted us about the changes they made so we could reconsider our review, and again: "We'll be back".
Some webmasters take us so seriously that they even try to copy our design (structure that is), of course that is a compliment to us, which we greatly appreciate.
On the content part, which should be the most important thing of a website, we didn't see a lot improvements. On one hand that's understandable, no webmaster is going to change his site because ElvisNews.com says so. The biggest change we saw were link-pages with comments on the links visitors could choose from. Some webmasters focused more on the main part of their site. Best example here is the official Elvis-site by Elvis Presley Enterprises. Before our review you could find the Elvis information and news only halfway their huge menu. Only days after the review they moved the news-section to the top, made the menu smaller and focused on their product instead of the merchandising. Also a lot of websites offer news more prominently now.
Overall we are pretty content. Still a lot of webmasters have the guts to volunteer and especially the improvements on navigation are clear. This makes a lot of sites and Elvis-information better to access.
Of course we still accept new volunteers, take up the gauntlet and learn for free where your site needs or can use improvement. In the same way we are always listening to our readers on what they like to see improved or added to our site.