I will do my best to offer useful feedback on your websites and what
you can do to make them better. First I'll walkthrough my impressions
about navigating the site, how it appears, and ease of use of the
website. I'll show how the page looks in multiple browsers as well so
you can see what the user sees. (Note that all screenshots will be
available for only 30 days from 20 February 2003). I'll try to be as
thorough as possible but if I miss something then let me know and I'll
do my best to critique this site. (Also, if I'm too thorough then tell
me so I don't over-do it with minutiae (details)).
I first went to http://www.allanvigilford.com/ . In about 8 seconds on
56k dial-up the page appeared. So this page loads fast even on users
with slow connections. The first thing I noticed was the title "New
Page 4" in my browser's bar. (I'm using Opera 7.01 for the first
test). You can see a screenshot of what I see here:
Screenshot of http://www.allanvigilford.com/ in Opera 7.01:
This "New Page 4" is what is in the html between the <title> and
</title> tags. This would be better as something more descriptive such
as "Allan Vigil Ford." Changing this would make it appear more
professional. I checked the source and it appears you're using
Microsoft FrontPage 4.0 to make this page. A quick search of
"FrontPage set title" on Google shows this page:
Chris's FrontPage Info Web - Tutorials & Tips
which shows you exactly how to set the title in Microsoft FrontPage.
I was a little confused at this point until I "moused over" (moved the
mouse cursor over) the image and saw in the status bar that it linked
to the main page (http://www.vigilford.com/index.asp). I scrolled down
and saw the navigation bar (images with links to different sections of
the website). I believe that would look better at the top (on the flat
part of the inverted triangle logo). If it were on the top of the page
there would be no need to scroll down (in a resolution of 1024x768 in
a window that is slightly less wide than the width of the screen) and
the choices available to the user would be more apparent. Now that I
think about it, perhaps that inverted triangle means "scroll down"
even though I did not think that at first. It is more likely that it
is in the shape of a 'V' for Vigil. You might want to move the
navigation bar up to the top and shrink the "Allan Vigil's southlake
Ford" logo slightly (maybe 80% of the total size (20% less) then there
would be no need to scroll. It would look good where there is blank
space at the top now.
Now here is how that page looks in Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.5 on
(Windows 98) and Netscape 4.78.
Screenshot of http://www.allanvigilford.com/ in IE 5.5:
Screenshot of http://www.allanvigilford.com/ in Netscape 4.78:
Now that you see what I see on that page you should know that the page
is completely in English. You say it should be accessible in two
languages - English and Spanish. This page could have Spanish text
which corresponds to the text in the images (such as Service
Department, Parts Inquiry, etc). You could put this below the images
or above them; it is your choice. My opinion is that it would look
better below these images if the images were at the top of the page.
The logo doesn't need a Spanish translation because it is what
identifies your company with the product (the cars) and proper names
(almost always) do not need translation between languages because the
meaning is clear.
Now I'll critique the user interface on this page. The 'buttons'
(images with the words in them) are obvious links but the main logo is
slightly less so. A text link to http://www.vigilford.com/ might be
useful for text based browsers such as lynx and those who turn off
their images. This would make your site accessible to all instead of
those who just use (or prefer to use) graphical browsers. Alternately,
you can specify the alt tag of the image which is just a short
description of the image or what the image does.
Screenshot of http://www.allanvigilford.com/ in Lynx:
Though not many people use lynx or text based browsers there are some
that do, and some may be potential customers so if you make the site
look good for them, they are more likely to be potential customers
rather than have a time navigating the site because it is mostly
images on that page. To fix this problem you can specify the alt image
description in the images to something descriptive such as "Vigil Ford
Logo" and "Parts Inquiry" for the Parts Inquiry image.
Now, let's navigate!
I clicked on Service Department. I would think this is where you could
contact Vigil Ford about question relating to vehicles or services
purchased from there. It opens a new window called "REPAIR ORDER
SEARCH". OK, not what I expected. If I had service with Vigil Ford in
the past I would be able to input the numbers and find the status of
my repairs. Good idea. That would make things easier so you know when
the car is ready to pick-up. Perhaps "Repair Orders" would be more
descriptive than "Service Department"?
Now I clicked on Parts Inquiry. This page has a nice setup and it is
clear where to type the part number to look it up. Condensing the
scrolling of the parts list was a good idea in this case because of
the other options below the parts number area (the Vendor Display
option). The directions on the top of the screen are clear and I
really don't have much to say about this page.
Now to check out Service History. Again this page is pretty simple and
doesn't look like it needs any changes. The directions spell
These features will be very useful for current customers and I think
they will appreciate them as they need them for their vehicles. This
is a 'perk' (unique reward) for using this site if you are already a
customer. If you are not already a customer but happen to click this
link anyway a brief description on the each of these pages (the
Service History/Parts Inquiry/and Repair Orders pages) would let
potential customers know that they could have these features from this
company which another company might not have. If you do decide to add
a brief description of what each feature does on their respective
pages, then remember to be clear and concise.
Clicking on Home (or the logo graphic) goes to the main site.
Now to critique http://www.vigilford.com/ .
Going here http://www.vigilford.com/ it says I have no flash plugin in
Opera but I do and it is enabled. The Automark Flash Plugin Detector,
therefore, must not work in this instance. It uses Microsoft Active-X
to test if the Flash plugin is installed so only users of Microsoft
Internet Explorer would have the plugin work correctly -- everyone
else would get the 'no flash detected' page.
I clicked skip flash download step. Now the page loads (index.asp).
I believe there is a problem with something on this page. The
screenshot shows in the upper-left corner a window showing a car
covering another image. I'm seeing this in Opera 7.01.
Screenshot of http://www.vigilford.com/index.asp in Opera 7.01:
Looking in the source to see the problem I see there are pop-up ads
that are supposed to show but I haven't seen because I have pop-ups
turned off in Opera. I quickly looked at the ads in IE (Internet
Explorer) and saw that one showed important information ("We are
moving") that should be on the main site in non-popup form for those
who might not see the popups. I looked under Info -> News and saw that
as of Thursday, February 20, 2003 there is "No News Available".
Perhaps you could add the info from the pop-up (or a link to the
pop-up directly) there? That would allow users to see the news who
didn't see the pop-up for whatever reason (such as specific pop-up
Back to the image problem in Opera... The image behind the car is:
I don't know what it is doing there, it is a picture of a newspaper
for careers. If it is an advertisement then it should go to the ad
when I click on it but it links to:
http://www.vigilford.com/index.asp (which is the sites main page).
It does not show up in Internet Explorer as seen in this screenshot.
Screenshot of http://www.vigilford.com/index.asp in IE 5.5:
Netscape looks the same as Opera but the main picture under the Ford
Allan Vigil Ford logo does not appear.
( http://www.vigilford.com/images/dealerpic1.jpg?1185036 )
General Impressions of the main page:
I like the window in the upper-left that shows the cars and allows you
to see others. The pictures are clear and they are labeled. Nice "eye
candy" for the main page. The information is laid out professionally
and clearly (it is not "noisy") which is good.
The menus are condensed so when you mouse-over them another menu
appear at right under that category. To me, this is a good idea
because it narrows down what the user is looking for and makes things
easier to find.
The frames used in this site are actually a good use of frames even
though I do not like frames at all because they limit the screen area
if not used for navigation properly. However, in this case the top
frame lists the main categories again which is good for users who
would like to see what else the site has to offer.
Browsing through the site, the frames are ever present and bring
continuity to the site (in other words, the frames make the user
I tried out the new vehicles search and clicked on 2003 FORD RANGER
4DR SUP CAB 3.0L XLT APPR. Now this page is nice. The picture is clean
and there is an estimate monthly payment (which strikes me as
seemingly more up front) and the I'm interested link. (Good wording,
not to pushy but enough to get in contact with the user about
purchasing the vehicle.) The print function is also nice since it
explains how to print a frame without so many words to users who may
not know how to do that.
Changing the model on the side to Escort, the page quickly reloaded
(about 5 seconds) with the new list. This is actually fast for dial-up
for a site and I have to say the speed/response of downloading this
site is pretty good. Broadband users wouldn't notice a delay. Speed
does not seem to be an issue for this site.
Having the contact information of Vigil Ford (phone number, address,
email, fax, and hours of operation) throughout the site is also good
design and likely for those interested and impulsive persons to drop
by or ask a question (via the Chat function or other contact
information) that they might not otherwise do.
When I tried the Chat with dealer function in Opera this is all I got:
Screenshot of Chat Function in Opera 7.01:
However, it worked in IE and I was told that no one was available at
the moment and I would have to talk to the bot (virtual assistant) or
wait. A bit disappointing but being on hold is sometimes necessary
because of too much demand or not enough manpower on the phones (or
chat in this case).
I noticed very little Spanish text on the site, however, such as
"Repair La Pregunta De la Orden" ("Repair Order Inquiry"). It looks
like more work could be done on translating the English text to
Spanish. Some easy word to word translation can be done here:
Google Language Tools
but since this is a professional site, it should be professionally
translated so potential Spanish-speaking customers would be impressed
by the overall quality and would know what each link does on the site
(instead of going to it and guessing).
Perhaps I missed an "en espaņol" link where there is most of the site
translated but it wasn't obvious if there was one.
To sum things up:
The ease of navigation was easy and intuitive (except for
http://www.allanvigilford.com/) and the speed of the pages was very
good (I'm on 56k dial-up). The frames and templates make the site look
similar on most pages despite the current content so the continuity is
fluid (good). The frames add to this as well.
I believe that this site would be great at getting new customers to
buy (or at least say "I'm interested" and later keep the information
to contact your company). They would probably appreciate (as I have)
the pictures and key descriptions of the vehicles as well as the chat
features and "I'm interested" feature. Since the site is geared toward
getting responses/questions out of potential customers, the first line
of doing business has been reached -- contact with seller and
[potential] buyer. The design is simple enough so that anyone can use
these features and the directions are clear and to the point. In other
words, I don't see any reason the current setup would not bring in
customers (if you have adequate advertising that is).
As for current customers, I think they would like the design of the
page and the features for checking their repair work and the chat
feature (if they can get a live person, many people dislike speaking
( Help desk - Pitfalls to avoid (speaking to machines)
I can understand the virtual bot is there to fill in for humans
after-hours but if the chat function can reliably be used to talk to
your service representatives then current customers would like that
option (as well as email or phone) if they have problems or questions.
The main page is also clean and appealing to the eyes so current
customers would probably continue to go there since "sex appeal"
(looks) is so important in the car industry (seen a car commercial
The main site http://www.vigilford.com/ is designed very well and
there are only the minor problems I listed in the beginning.
These problems are with images or with the Active-X controls that only
work with Microsoft's Internet Explorer. More work could be done to
create an interoperable website to work with Netscape and Opera. These
users may find some functions unusable (chat in Opera, main picture of
the SUV on Netscape). If the site was more standards compliant then
these browser users would be better potential customers.
( World Wide Web Consortium - Making Websites Accessible to All
Since you said you wanted the site to be accessible to Spanish
speakers, it would seem that more work should be done to translate the
main categories and more of the text.
Also you should probably update your news section with any important
information you see fit. An up-to-date new section lets the customer
know that the site is regularly updated and, therefore, someone is
actually putting time into the site and thus the dealership which
shows good business ethic and dedication to improve. It also lets the
customer know "someone is there" on the other end (and not just a
server dishing out webpages).
So my rating for http://www.vigilford.com/index.asp is B+ (can improve
but very good).
My rating for http://www.allanvigilford.com/ is C- (usable but needs
This entire review/critique (except for the appearance is the
browsers) is subjective and therefore you or someone else may not
agree with me. I just offered my opinion in a manner that I hope you
I hope this feedback is useful to you and if anything is unclear, or
if anything needs comment that I missed, then please "Request Answer
Clarification" before you "Rate this Answer" and I will do my best to
provide further help in this matter.
Chris's FrontPage Info Web - Tutorials & Tips
Help desk - Pitfalls to avoid (speaking to machines)
Opera Web Browser Homepage
World Wide Web Consortium - Making Websites Accessible to All
dislike "speaking +to machines"
FrontPage set title