I recently took the opportunity to review an advocacy website pertaining to the infamous Mark Twain and one of his many revered works entitled “The Art of Inhumation”. It was a welcomed opportunity as I have always enjoyed Twain’s writings and, although this particular work was largely unfamiliar to me, I was excited to explore this site to learn more. All of this build up of excitement turned to disappointment early on, however, as I found the site (http://essays.quotidiana.org/twain/art_of_inhumation/ ) less than desirable from a visual and graphical viewpoint.
When I first took a look at this Twain site, I was immediately disturbed by the bad bordering that affected the look of the home page. The photo of Twain in the upper left corner of the page was nice, but it was probably the only feature that came across as acceptable to me during this initial first impression moment. The entire right side of the page shows a complete misuse of white space and leaves the page quite out of balance. The white space that is demonstrated on this site is not quite how one should utilize this element of design within a web page. Many times an experienced professional web designer will skew the balance of a page by placing the heavier weight on one side of a page but counter it by placing two or three smaller scale designs on the opposite side of the same page. This is definitely not one of those occasions as the balance is not even close to being equaled out. The entire page is counterproductive to several very important design elements in web page creation. The consistency of the page is questionable, the sequence is not smoothly conveyed, and the overall proportion of the site is just not there. Because of these design errors the webpage’s entire center of gravity is thrown off, and it leaves the reader with little more than a pronounced leftward lean and a slightly sore neck.
The text on the site is acceptable, but only on the authors much favored left side of the page. The contrasting right side, again, leaves much to be desired. The font on this neglected right side is much too small, and for anyone with less than perfect eyesight it could be a problem. The typeface on the left side of the page, where the essay itself is actually written, is well chosen, easily read, and overall a very good choice for such a work, but the typeface style placed on the less favored right side is far more difficult to read. All of this creates a situation where the viewer that chooses to go ahead and attempt to read this repressed side of the page comes away with nothing more than an increasing level of internal dizziness directly caused by this bad page layout.
As much as I hate to keep beating this subject of bad page design in the ground, I feel I must also point out the wrong choice of colors, or lack thereof, in the site. I completely understand the lack of vivid and bright hues for a site dealing with all such classic literary work like this one, but the monotone gray placed upon the off white background needs some additional earth tones to liven it up a bit. The only amount of color at all within the confines of this neglected site is midway down the now thoroughly beaten down right side of the page, where a decent rust color graphic advertising an out of date symposium at Fordham University is ruined by the almost illegible print contained within the graphical flyer.
I must confess, after all the bashing, that the site seems to be good in its authority of Twain and his work, and in looking at the other works contained within the main site itself, it seems to hold some credibility in the literary field. On another positive note, the site also shows a decent amount of coverage throughout, and has definitely had quite a bit of work and input injected at some point during its creation. The site’s currency, however, is less than up-to-date and leaves the overall impression that the...