Lowendguide.com updates

mikho

Not to be taken seriously, ever!
Good evening members of this forum!

As you might have noticed from my signature I write and maintain a site called LowEndGuide.com.

The reason for this post is that I updated the theme and layout of the page today/tonight (and it's really late).

I have a tendency to miss the most obvious when I'm tired so I am interested to hear from you. Because I know you are brutally honest.

What are your opinions about the new layout, with categories on the left side instead of the look of a blog with posts added one after each other.

I still have that look, if someone would be interested, the link is on the top of the page.

Ignore the spelling mistakes and grammar at this point, the guides are old (new ones will be published soon, was trying to get this done first).

Or if you have nothing better to do, feel free to comment on my spelling and grammar.

For you who have visited the site with the old look, is this better or worse? What can I do to improve the "feeling".

Change of colours perhaps? Another layout?

Give me your opinions!!!

I'm posting this, right before I go to bed so I will reply tomorrow when I'm awake again.

Thank you for reading and commenting :)

And if this should be somewhere else, smack me over the head and tell me where to put it or move it.
 

walesmd

New Member
This is going to sound really harsh, I realize after going back and reading it. I'm sorry - I just deal with this stuff 12+ hours a day, every day (Web Developer w/ a side-passion for Design, UX and DevOps). Don't get me wrong, I love it - I've somehow convinced a company that they should pay me a shit-ton to do what I would otherwise sit here and do for fun; but it does get quite redundant. Particularly when your primary customer is the US Government. Nevertheless, I'll leave it here for your enjoyment, unedited - it's been a long Tuesday after a long weekend:

---

I hate it and I don't even remember what the site originally looked like last night from a design perspective (I clicked your signature on a whim). I do remember being able to easily find content though, I think - I don't rightfully recall because it wasn't an effort or task that should be memorable. I will admit once I found the content on this design there does seem to be more of it, I vaguely recall <10 articles last night maybe?

This design, though... I'm presented with an all but useless circle-jerk of the site's intent. I know what the site's intent is, I made a proactive decision to visit LowEndGuide.com - you mean this isn't an Amazon mirror? Besides, fuck your intent! My intent is to be oiled by strippers and roll around in a pile of Bill Gates' money! See, anyone can talk a big game; show me, prove it to me. You're intent will define itself through the quality of your work.

Okay - I've skimmed over your excessively wordy intent - blah, blah, blah. I even laughed at "Got decent English writing skills?" - if that's intentional you're a goddamn comedic genius. Let's learn something already (I'm bored and dedicated, a random Googler would have hit the back button by now). You've told me all about what you're going to tell me, but I can't seem to find where you tell me!

My eyes literally did this on the page (not the best tool for this, follow the numbers).  I was playing around with some other stuff anyway and needed a break from it so I whipped this around a bit for 10 minutes when I really should have been taking a bathroom break. Now it's obvious where the user should go to learn something - perhaps the section named Guides!? Looky there, he also has a bunch of helpful scripts and files for me to download. I'm going to be a mother-fucking wizard when I'm done reading this site! This place is awesome! Afterthought: I meant to throw the twitter bird, Facebook button, all that shit in the dark blue button near the top. Use your imagination.

One other thing to note: a paragraph is more than one sentence. Writing for a site like this is much different than writing on a forum. I actually had to grab an article from another site because not a single one of your paragraphs spanned multiple lines (which is not entirely your fault, the font is horribly wrong in this mockup). Don't go writing the next Moby Dick now, but focus on your timing and pace. If it helps, read your article out loud and exaggerate the pause at the end of a sentence or paragraph.

You'll go from Forrest Gump to Morgan Freeman in no time!
 
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AnthonySmith

New Member
Verified Provider
Having read the above post I can honestly say if you get paid to write that shit that helps no one and just allows you to vent bull shit then I applaud you for getting paid for being absolutely useless at giving feedback.

Personally as a sane member of this human race, I like it better than the old one, it is easy to use and easy to navigate, all I would change is the have the most resents on the front page.
 
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fisle

Active Member
While @walesmd's comment might sound a bit harsh, I do have to agree, it is a bit too hard to navigate. Just a big wall of text nobody bothers to read and no big button for the guides.
 

walesmd

New Member
Having read the above post I can honestly say if you get paid to write that shit that helps no one and just allows you to vent bull shit then I applaud you for getting paid for being absolutely useless at giving feedback.

Personally as a sane member of this human race, I like it better than the old one, it is easy to use and easy to navigate, all I would change is the have the most resents on the front page.
Sorry Anthony, and more appropriately mikho, it was a long and frustrating night. I realized the harshness before clicking submit but really didn't feel like going back through in an attempt to reword. I had some other business I needed to get back to but felt there were some important points should the reader suffer through it all. I'll make an attempt to rectify that now:

I just hit the domain again this morning and some changes have already been made that are vast improvements! Just moving the recent posts to the front page completely changes the first impression upon visiting the site. The homepage definitely needs some more attention in terms of design, as it doesn't fit in well with some of the design decisions made throughout the rest of the domain.

Categorization and content discovery are the biggest issues I see. Most people aren't coming to read all of the guides from front to back, they're getting here via a search for "configure MySQL CentOS" - they need you to hold their hand through that and then they're gone. Obviously, we don't want them to leave so I'd suggest adding related guides to the end. This can be automated but I would absolutely make sure you have the ability to custom tailor the list. What do people do after MySQL? You should have a link to a guides covering Apache, nginx and Lighttpd installation right there for them to click on.

A site that does this amazingly well to me (surprisingly, given the overall poor quality of the content) is WebDesignDev. I visit this website occasionally in search of some free design resources to use and there's just something about those 4 links, placed horizontally, with their square associated graphics that gets me stuck on this domain over and over again.

I also believe the primary navigation (top-right) is being grossly misused and that leads me into what I believe to be the overall "issue" throughout the entire domain: over-stuffing a minimalist design. The template you are using has an overall minimalistic theme to it - there's a lot of whitespace, clean lines, subtle highlights and large readable fonts. When working with a minimal design, each and every pixel you place on the screen should have a distinct and clear purpose. Your goal should not be "what can I put on this page", rather you should always consider "what can I remove from this page?" Beyond that, I think you're just excited about a new project and it could have used a bit more time in the oven before you made any announcement - not the end of the world.

I'll try and get everything into list format, so it's more easily consumable:

  1. Fonts: There are 5 (Arial, Oswald, Verdana, Istok Web and Rockwell for the logo, I believe). Excellent designers can make 3 look good on a page, the rest of us should stick with 2. I really like Oswald for your headers; this is the first time I've consciously noticed Istok Web so give it a consideration for your body. Other good serif choices are Lato, Open Sans, Titillium Web. Sans-serif for body text is becoming more and more popular, particularly the cleaner and more newspaper-like your style becomes. You may want to consider a font like Old Standard TT, PT Serif or Sabon. Whatever you choose, go with the smallest font-weight available to balance the heavy thick bold of Oswald (although 100 may be too light, depending on font-size). A font-size around 16-18px with a line-height near 24px (you typically want to be 1.5em) should turn out much nicer, more readable and take care of tracking issues you're currently experiencing when moving from line to line. You also need to desperately increase the margin-bottom of your p tags, right now there's no distinction between lines as opposed to between paragraphs. You want to target 55-70 characters per line for best readability.
  2. Main Navigation: Everything has a purpose, nothing is added to the page that does not serve that purpose, right? Delete everything out of the main navigation. Now, think of the types of guides you will write and attempt to categorize them into 4-6 categories. I was quite fond of my "Guides, Scripts, Downloads and Reviews" to be honest. If there's room we can add the social buttons back in. Why are we getting rid of the license and about? We already know what the site's about - that's redundant. The only time I've ever looked for a license was on software's site - yours is important, no doubt (we'll get to it later), but absolutely no one is looking for it. These 2 links are the mobile homes parked on Santa Monica Blvd.
  3. Secondary Navigation: That menu is a great way to organize content in alternative methods, beyond the "object-type" style we used earlier. You may have to get inventive with Wordpress, making this menu the canonical category and the objects up top a small, personally restricted selection of tags you've allowed yourself to use. Nevertheless, this menu is ignored. Let's move it farther up - right underneath the Search box., within the same div with the light grey background.
  4. Sidebar Ads: Speaking of ads, lose those and the one in the footer, especially on the front page. They are way too intrusive and seriously detract from the appearance of quality. It just looks cheap - we can get those back involved on the content pages but for now, we don't want to scare anyone off before they've even come across an article.
  5. Homepage Social Icons: Lose them - you either already have them in the header or you'll make room for them in the footer. No one is going to actively share an index page, they'll share individual content and then only on Twitter or Facebook. Those that want to share with LinkedIn, Email or Reddit will typically copy-paste the link themselves, regardless of how easy a button you give them.
  6. Main Content Area Homepage: We need to redesign this square one and encourage people to get lost in our content. First off, the title is absurdly wordy; let's change "Most recent guides in order" to "Recent Guides". Also, it should be above the orange line in Oswald like every other header on the site. Now go grab the HTML from one of your category pages - remove the date and comment count, give it some more padding up top. This is your new Recent Posts list. Experiment with including an introduction paragraph on this front page but I think a better idea is to find a Wordpress plugin that provides "upvote" functionality and let people quickly and easily show their support for an article.
  7. Footer: More social networking icons to lose... I'd lose the TagCloud as well - there's nothing inherently bad about it but there's nothing good either and I have something good. You're going to build a "Suggest a Topic" form in the footer that occupies the first and second columns. Encourage people to give you input on what you should write about or for them to even contact you about submitting their own articles! "Current Providers" - as someone "in the loop" I know these are paid links and/or your friends, people you associate with. But what would someone new to VPS's think? Remember they are your target audience - we know what we're doing for the most part. My first thought: "It requires 7 VPS's to run this little blog? Maybe I've made the wrong decision..." If they're paid spots I'd issue refunds. Now, we have an empty 3rd column (far right). We're going to create 2 sections, one above the other, the top being named "Subscribe" and includes a single input form for an email address and a submit button. The next section is titled "About LowEndGuide". The links listed are: "About Your Real Name" if you are comfortable in doing so, if not use "the Author", "Submit a Guide", "License & Disclaimer". Finally, kill off that white div.

In reviewing the code for this template I have a whole slew of technical suggestions as well but you have some catching up to do. If anyone has any questions, suggestions, concerns - why did I suggest this or that -etc, please feel free to ask.

And once again, I apologize for the tone of the last post. I've found harsh reality and a sharp tongue can be an excellent motivational instigator and, if done properly, can lend itself to a certain level of humor (which is always helpful in a constructive criticism scenario). Unfortunately, I failed to maintain a consistence voice and the whole thing just fell apart with no real way to pick up back up again in the time I had available. I hope this post does prove useful and you accept my apologies - not for the harshness but for the failure in communication.
 

AnthonySmith

New Member
Verified Provider
haha, I meant what I said in as humorous a way as possible, it was actually a funny read :)

The post above is probably the best feedback I have ever seen anyone give on a forum!
 

mikho

Not to be taken seriously, ever!
I'm presented with an all but useless circle-jerk of the site's intent. I know what the site's intent is, I made a proactive decision to visit LowEndGuide.com - you mean this isn't an Amazon mirror? Besides, fuck your intent! My intent is to be oiled by strippers and roll around in a pile of Bill Gates' money!

You'll go from Forrest Gump to Morgan Freeman in no time!
I'm glad I decided not to answer this earlier when I was in a bad mood, that wouldn't have been nice at all because after reading your second post, I understand that you were upset over something that happened to you and that this post unfortunately got in the way for your anger.

After updating with the new template I found out that even though I tested "everything", something wasn't the same and the site didn't look as I expected. I am in no way a designer (which you clearly can see). My day-job is all about Windows Servers and applications. I need help on stuff like this. That's the reason I decided to not revert the changes and go back yo the drawing board but instead ask for opinions on what to do better.

Based on that, I think your first post were uncalled for. There were not one thing that would improve my work, only telling me that what I've done sucked and you could do it better in 10 minutes or less....

After reading your second post I feel better since there are actual examples on what I should improve on.

Some of the changes that you suggest are (for me) simple things and some are harder (for me) to implement but I'll try to do, perhaps not all but many of them.

If you ever find the time and interest to give some more advice, I would be more then willing to listen to them if you can keep the same tone as in your second post. Last thing though, I have no intention to be a Morgan Freeman. Nothing beats a box of chocolates. :p
 
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mikho

Not to be taken seriously, ever!
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a good example of friendly vpsBoard professional talk :)
If I would have replied when I read the first post instead of trashing the draft. We would something called "a LET drama" going on. :)


Sometimes it's better to take a deep breath, back up and look before you speak.
 

mikho

Not to be taken seriously, ever!
Many of the suggestions have been done.


More will be added later on. I'll go over all the posts and see whats not working. Perhaps change some "too long" headlines.
 

AnthonySmith

New Member
Verified Provider
I still cant help thinking it 'might' have a better look if the footer was actually a sidebar on the right.. dunno..
 
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