Faith Builders

4 comments | Posted: 18 October 06 in Featured, by Natalie Jost


Faith Builders is a site I saw first in the forums when the designer was looking for critique and I enjoyed it then, but didn’t take a real deep look at it at the time, so when Nathan asked me to feature it, I thought it was a good opportunity to look “under the hood”. What I found was pretty good – not without its flaws, but pretty decent overall.

First, the graphics are very well done. Working with stock photos and blending realistic elements and keeping them looking realistic is something I can say from experience is a really difficult thing to do. It takes a strong eye for depth of field, dimension, color, space, and more to pull off a look like this.

The flash is also well done, not real intrusive and not alot relying on flash. It’s an “extra” as it should be, and it’s clean with a simple hover action.

The problems this site runs into is going style-less or image-less. I’m not sure how often a site is viewed without styles or images, but in terms of web standards and accessibility this is one of the first things I use to gauge a good design. The primary issue with this site is that there is no real menu without the stylesheet. When viewing the source, we find the following menu:

<div class="home"><a href="" class="active_home"></a></div>
<div class="ministries"><a href=""></a></div>
<div class="journal"><a href=""></a></div> [...]

With styles and images on all is well, but turn images off or lose the stylesheet and there’s no menu. A suggestion would be to go ahead and put a title on the links and label them between the <a> tags, then give the links a negative text-indent so that the text doesn’t display on top of the images. With a title on each of the links, a person can still find the menu when the hover over it because the titles will atleast display. It’s still not ideal, but a viewer needs an alternative when styles and/or images are not available. It would also make better sense to make the menu a <ul> as well with each menu item a list item.

Mentioned in the forums was the use of a rounded typeface on the headings being a bit out of place and I agree. Although it is a nice typeface, it seems to give a faint “bublegum” kind of feel to an otherwise strong, rugged look. A bold serif typeface would probably fit in better, contrasting appropriately with the sans-serif body without being too far out of the scope of the site’s theme.

The markup could also be arranged in a more logical order, using different level headings besides <h1>, but over all, it’s not a bad design. In fact, the image replacement on the headings was done well. The site also fits 800×600 screens, which many argue is pointless today with so many people using larger screens, but it’s still a beautiful courtesy for those who can’t or don’t.

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Tank

    I dig the style. It’s tough to pull off a non-linear look, but they’ve done a good job.

  2. 2 Marius Ooms

    Thanks Natalie for your honest review and detailed eye for a complete look into web standards. I’m still learning and am actually happy you pointed these things out. Even though I will be off the clock at this point, I will try to address the issue you mentioned about the menu. I admit, I didn’t think about that at all.

    If I have learned one thing, it is to visit the Godbit critique forum before launch so I can still implement some changes before showing the client. Like the headings set in rounded type. Unfortunately now it would a shock the client if changed at this point, but a lesson learned none the less.

    I’m still learning about structural markup and to be honest I think my style sheet is way too big and messy. With this as well, I intended to build everything solid structurally, but I rushed the deadline a bit and so at the end the markup went out the window favoring the client’s request of earlier launch date.

    All in all, what matters most for at this point is that I was able the please the client as this was my very first ever paid piece of work. I am also proud that this site is featured on Godbit regardless of the flaws. The Godbit project is a place of learning and that’s why I come here, so thanks to everybody willing to spend their time helping others to get to a better understanding of web standards.

  3. 3 Marius Ooms

    The menu now exist when stylesheets are disabled! When images are disabled it is not perfect, but better at least. Thanks Natalie, for pointing me in the right direction.

  4. 4 Natalie Jost

    Marius, thanks for being so gracious. I always get nervous posting negative criticism, don’t know why. There’s a lot to think about and I wish I had taken the time to say these things in the forum ages ago. If you do those two things though, turn off images and styles, you’ll see your bigger problems right away and can begin working on that. The earlier you test that, the easier it will be on you throughout the design process. Don’t worry too much about it. My earlier clients have MUCH worse sites than this!


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