We've shied away from a help forum of that nature at this time. We prefer to be educators first and point people in the right direction than tell them exactly what it is about their site.
The whole problem with "look at my site and tell me what you think" type requests, is that it turns into something akin to "write my essay test so I can learn from it" type scenario. We'd rather give you the book and let you learn yourself at your own pace.
I also think it would bring out the url droppers and I doubt it would get very much support. Oh, there would be lots and lots of "help me" posts, but few willing to contribute to the actual helping. I think in the long run, such a help forum would degrade the quality of the forums.
That said; it is an issue we keep revisiting, because I do think there may be a way to handle such a forum if done correctly. I also think we may be moving there in the future whether we want to or not.
We'll look at it again this summer sometime and see where we are with the membership. If we move towards very many new webmaster users, then it maybe something we really need to do.
[edited by Brett_Tabke]
How about a site makeover lead by the senior members? Someone take a site they are working on and show what it was like when they got it, then what steps they do to improve it, documenting the steps along the way. Others could pitch in comments and questions. I'd certainly like to see before and after pictures of sites that some of the experts here did.
My opinion is this type of forum could be subject to rampant abuse. Also, how many are out there that just steal the design, optimization ideas of others without taking the time to study the principles to do well? This forum along with SEW does a great job of explaining the principles as Brett mentioned. There are too many people who want a quick fix and aren't willing to do the work themselves. All of us gain from each others comments here, I have gained a ton. But I also seek to understand the principles and develop my own strategies which is really the long term answer to success. Those that don't, once their hand is dropped, are soon up a creek without a paddle. Not saying any of you are in this category, but we must consider the consequences of taking such an endeavor on. It is much better to educate our visitors in principles as much as possible so that they can apply those with the best fit for their site/situation. That will have the most lasting positive effect for all.
OK, yeah I can see how it could get abused but surely anyone stealing ideas can do that anywhere and at least by showing people how to do stuff maybe they can take those ideas and build on them.
Besides if they do steal without understanding it then they are only hurting themselves.
I think a place where ideas can be shown through practical application would be really really useful.
Sure there are loads of possible hazards but im sure there are loads of possible solutions.
anyway im just thinking out loud so i'll shut up now ;)
I think there are very few ideas that are worth protecting. Is there anything about your HTML that I can't discover by doing a view source? Are your server-side scripts really special? If I want to rip off your site, there is not very much you can do to stop me or anyone else.
I write books and articles, teach classes, speak at conferences. When I desiminate my knowledge, it comes back to me in offers for more books, articles, classes, and conferences. I'm sure that the person doing the makeover would get more design work than they could handle.
I will even offer my sites as the first example.
Don't get me wrong, I think the concept of "how to" is a good one. I would just hate to see anyone damaged by it. Yeah, you can get the info anyway from source viewing, but sometimes when you stick something in front of a huge audience like this, people get ideas they didn't have before. Sorry if I seemed to be squelching your opinions...just posing another point of view. Thanks for offering your own first Xoc, that is generous.
I'm not certain whether this type of site QA analysis or makeover could be done in a regular forum format, or could possibly be done as part of online seminars or workshops.
While it would probably be well received and popular, I can also see a potential for abuse. I believe something like this would have to be in a controlled environment, with some sort of planned structure to it, if it were to eventually be done.
That's exactly what I mean. Brett or another moderator invites someone to submit their makeover. It gets demoed in some controlled way with comments and questions.
This would not be an open process that spammers could take advantage of.
Think of it as a master class in the art of web design.
It's an interesting idea but I see a few problems with it.
You have to remember that everyone who posts here does so voluntarily on their own time. In the modern day world there is SO MUCH to do and "so little time"...especially for people who work in this industry (so much POTENTIAL and room for improvement).
Although I'd love to have time to help others with specific aspects of their sites (as I'm sure everyone would), I realistically just don't have the time, which is probably the same with lots of other people.
That's the reason why we have this Forum: to share ideas and to provide people with access to the information so they can help themselves...the whole "teach them how to fish instead of giving them fish" philosophy.
We provide plenty of instructions on "how to" fish in the forum, which is a compilation of the contributions of hundreds of kind individuals.
A "look at my site" forum would maybe detract from this setup and environment?
I love this forum precisely because it provides me with the resources to help myself...especially because by reading it sparks my interest and creativity and I can go off an come up with "customizable" ideas for my sites.
It would seem to me that the "look at my site" would be a whole other forum? In my opinion that would be more of a "pay" model.
Xoc, yes you surely *are* a teacher! :)
I can remember one teacher I had saying that things are best taught using more than one method - for example, three ways: hearing it, reading it, and then seeing a visual representation.
I have both hosted message boards (in a women's homepages community) where people ask for recommendations on their sites - which is incredibly time consuming - and also hosted chats that included site advice in varying degrees.
In one case, there was a time I co-hosted with someone else for a special chat, and people submitted their URLs for review in advance, which were then distributed to the group by email for opinions to be rendered the following week. The other lady was the "host" and I was the co-host assisting, so to speak. There were about 8 sites gone through in the space of an hour (with some left undone), with all meeting with group approval.
I have to say that there was not one that would have gotten past me, personally, without at least an hour run-through on each, as well as followup sessions - which is why I never did one of those again, even though it was requested of me. I might in future, with only one site per session, pre-selected to cover a specific area or point of emphasis each time, to demonstrate a given principle - and then have followup. The time element is, however, prohibitive.
While I agree that visual demonstration is highly effective, it's an ambitious project - I would hazard a guess that it would almost require having a pre-determined curriculum and something beyond volunteer staff, if only because of the level of time and commitment involved for that sort of project.
If you look at what we have here, there are HTML and scripting issues, design and graphics issues, a soup-to-nuts assortment of SEO issues, and to top it all off, even a forum concerned with the business of being in business.
There is almost enough area to cover here to warrant an actual "online training center."
Aside from the issues of the mechanics, it's kind of mind-boggling how much territory could actually be covered, and as 2_much pointed out, it would take a tremendous amount of manpower to cover it all.
Oh, I would also volunteer - I need a total makeover, with the first necessary element being a re-assessment of the target audience. It's an awesome possibility, with a lot of variables possible.
Maybe someday, when the time is right, we'll see these concepts and ideas come to pass. I know I need all the help I can get. I think I can honestly say that I've learned best what I've had to think through the most, and I really love the forum format for that aspect - it's thought-provoking as well as informative. :)
Dreamweaver has a newsgroup that is full of the whole "help me with my site" content. I have even helped a few of the folks, unfortunately, most of the time you do not even get a "thank you", just more "help me toos!". I don't know if this is "helping" or just getting ripped off.
Go to the dreamweaver site and get on the newsgroup...you can even "help" some of the folks if you want to.
Perhaps one solution is that people could post to an appropriate category with very specific questions and use their sites as examples of the general concern they have. This way people are encouraged to come up with clear, conscice questions that are current and probably of at least passing interest to many others. I think that if you have some general questions and you also have a site to show what you mean, good. If you just want free analysis services, buck up camper and pony up the dough.
Welcome to WmW, john316. Probably a lot of us have gone through helping/being helped, and had varying experiences with it, both pleasant and not so pleasant.
The issue is also approach-dependent, related to the area of emphasis. There are sites that are magnificently done, and when they are all finished is when the company starts looking at how to get rankings. Some people fire up Photoshop first thing when they start on a site, and the first thing others do is start on a keyword analysis.
I have no idea which approach the Dreamweaver group would take, but it sounds like a good resource for bouncing back design ideas, at any rate.
>free analysis services
This happens a whole lot, physics; there is a long thread here in the Professional Webmaster Business Issues forum about this very issue.
The bottom line is that there's an economy of time involved for most people, so whatever time is spent has to do the most good.
Just telling someone to change their title tags and first paragraph and check on the load time (which is generally as much as a board or email list can deal with) is not the same as what's involved if a lot of time is necessary.
>Think of it as a master class in the art of web design.
I can see this possibility as a workable concept: presenting a visual demonstration of what's being explained, step by step. It couldn't be randomly done - it would undoubtedly take a lot of planning and forethought.
I think it's a great idea.
Set up a contract laying out the terms as far as what's reviewed and what's not. Then collect a non-refundable fee to be split between the review panel members.
At say $150 a pop I would sit there and do that all day for a little while anyway (not to elevate myself to that level of expertise) before it got boring.
It would then be beneficial to all parties and the end result could be some very satisfied customers with some very high-ranking and usable web sites.
>Some people fire up Photoshop first thing when they start on a site...
Others think eskwy.com is a cool domain and start from there.
The question we always ask is "what is it you do".
>Others think eskwy.com is a cool domain and start from there.
"cool" is not exactly the best starting place ;)
>The question we always ask is "what is it you do".
So then Mr. M, you're starting with asking what the site is about. It's an assumption that the first page of a site would be clear about that, but it's not always so.
Do you go from there to asking what they want the site to accomplish - it's purpose and goals?
I don't think this is the right place for a check my site forum...there are loads of Usenet groups already doing that...there are chat rooms full of web designers (that's where I started learning) and you can even put together an ICQ list of like minded souls...we don't need another way of getting site crits
a discussion about the process of developing a site interests me hugely...there is plenty of debate about totally theoretical idea and plenty of nuts and bolts ideas...but I'd like to compare notes on the process of going from raw concept to finished web site
my process keeps improving, and I'm usually pretty focused on it...so I know there is likely to be lots of room for improvement for all of us
Point One: when i first suggested the idea of a "look at my site" type affair I didnt mean people finnish their site and then Go "Hey look at my site!" more of a "I just spent 55 hours formatting a table to look like this, its 20 billion K in length - is there a better way" type thing
Point Two: erm...er...um....
I know knighty, but that is the issue we are wrestling with in deciding whether to do a help/look at my site forum. How do keep away from "feed me on a silver platter" forum and more towards "help me learn from example" type forum. I don't see quite how to do it.
The other help forums around the net full of help questions that range from "why is my site blue in netscape" to "how do I upload". Clearly the answers are right in font of the persons finger tips if they are willing to search. Those types of questions and forums tend to have a real "cheap" quality and bring down the rest of the forums. Even a well moderated forum of that type would not be immune to "mickey" posts by less-than-honest competing sites.
Yeah you're right Bret ...tough one eh?
I have a few of my older sites that I would add to a "Please do not Look at My Site" Forum.
Humility could be a great traffic generator.
lol minnapple. Like the painters house always in need of paint, I never trust a web designer or seo specialist that has a good looking home page.