Eco Latino, an upcoming Morris-affiliated Spanish/English monthly online tabloid in Florida, is still a work in progress. In fact, it only consists of one page that's about half done. But staugustine.com's AgentKen, who's working on the site, asked for some comments. Here goes:
- The color scheme is striking. It's bright, it's bold, and it invokes a sense of multiculturalism that's right on the mark for a site like this. Too often do we see news sites use color schemes that have no real purpose; here, the tones give the content an added kick. It's apparent here that the colors were given significant thought. And, as an added bonus, they're all Web safe. (For more on colors, see Poynter's outstanding Color, Contrast and Dimension in News Design.)
- Navigation in the left rail looks straightforward, although it's hard to judge it with only one page to work with. Section names are logical and easily grasped. One question here: The (intentional?) division of categories by background color implies categories with the same background color are somewhat related. Are they? The last four -- Advertisers, About Us, Site Map, Contact Us -- certainly are, but to link Message Board and Latest Issue is a bit more of a stretch.
- The date at the top of the page is somewhat confusing. Is that intended to be today's date, or the date of publication? If the site is updated monthly, printing the last-updated date would be more useful than displaying the current date. And to make things clear, I'd preface it with "Last updated:" or just "Updated:". If you do decide to print today's date, it'd be helpful to label it as such, to avoid misleading the readers.
- The language-switcher link that rotates the page's content between Spanish and English is an outstanding feature.
- The page's reliance on style sheets is commendable. I'd push it even further by using CSS to display the horizontal lines between categories in the left rail. Since they all have a single-pixel bottom border, you could just set
border-bottom: 1px solid #c90;instead of calling an image of an orange horizontal line after each list item. (While we're at it, if these navigation sections were in an unordered list, they'd be a tiny bit more accessible to any Lynx users out there.)
- There's a layout bug in Netscape 4 and in browsers with style sheets turned off: The main Eco Latino logo covers up the "Subscribe," date, weather, and language-switcher links for some reason.
- The page uses an
@importstatement to call its style sheet, and that leads me to believe that support for older browsers like Netscape 4 isn't a priority here. That's fine with me, as long as the content remains accessible, which it is -- but if you're willing to disregard Netscape 4, why not take the leap and move to an all-CSS layout? Glish, BlueRobot and Little Boxes are three great resources on this topic.
- Links could be more clearly defined. In the content area, they're pink on an orange background with no underline. In the top horizontal bar, the links are only distinguished as such when moused over. I had trouble distinguishing them myself; and I suspect users who are color blind would be ten times as frustrated. (Useful site: Dive Into Accessibility's Using Color Safely.)
- A few shortcuts in the style sheet code would cut load time. Instead of
font-family: eurostile,arial, sans-serif; font-size: 0.8em; font-weight: bold;, the same can be accomplished with
font: bold .8em eurostile,arial,sans-serif;. Likewise,
font-family: arial,sans-serif; font-size: 0.7em; line-height: 1.3em;can be consolidated into
font: .7em/1.3em arial,sans-serif;, and
background-color: #909;can be consolidated into