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Want "First Impressions" feedback for my website

I'm looking for 'first impressions' critical feedback on my
Lingo website ( http://www.lingolanguage.com ). Nothing in-depth, just find something that doesn't look right or is annoying or tacky or cheap or whatever.

I'm asking because I believe people form first impressions in 15 seconds or so, whenever looking at a new website / product / book etc. I've spent too long on this website and I can't assess it properly. Eventually I want to make it into a commercial product, so it has to look and work right. I can take the criticism (I think...).

Bill Rayer
Friday, June 13, 2003

http://validator.w3.org/check?uri=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.lingolanguage.i12.com%2F&charset=iso-8859-1+%28Western+Europe%29&doctype=HTML+4.01+Transitional

Sigh
Friday, June 13, 2003

Ok first impressions:

1) Even though its cute I would do away with the random quote on the pages. If you want it I would suggest you put it underneath the logo / white info boxes.

2) The links uses default "purple-when-visited" style, which makes the bottom navigation hard to read. Try find a color that goes well against both the purple and white background colors used.

3) Inconsistency between pages, "Product Info" page uses Icons which looks kindof clipartish whereas the other pages uses simple numbers for the different chapters.
I would prefer numbers.

4) Since the feel of the site is kindof boxy given the white box where all the information is, I would if I were you go with rectangular screenshots consistently. Faded edges are good if you want to show its not a full screeen shot.

Now Im done nitpicking :-)

Patrik
Friday, June 13, 2003

Looks good.  Where you say, "Click the 'Product Info' button for an introduction..." I might put links in that text too.  But I'm not a usability expert, so ymmv.

non
Friday, June 13, 2003

I don't know if this is about your website per se.  But I checked out your site when you first announced Lingo on these boards.  I went straight for the screenshots and my first impression of them was that they looked like Borland Delphi circa 1996 (or Borland Pascal if Delphi's pedigree doesn't go back that far).  Didn't look window's XPish at all as far as polish (i.e. eye-candy) goes.

Then I went looking for some sample code.  A 20 or so line program that said "Hello World" or "Save Ferris" or some such, and didn't find it (maybe its there, I didn't find it). 

Then I said to myself, "hmmm, with a few more years of development, this might actually be useful for something, but if I want to write Windows apps today I'm gonna have to go off and learn Visual C++ or a Borland tool" (I'm a java guy) and left.

Sorry if I sound a bit cruel.  I'm trying to be honest.  I admire what you're trying to do but development tools is a crowded space, even if there is a need for a simple way to make Windows EXEs. 

I haven't looked at your product, so I might be wrong, but I sense that you might running into the 80/20 problem that Joel described a while back (http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000020.html ), it might be impossible to build a successful simple development tool since simplification necessitates removing complexity (features) and inevitably you'll remove (omit) a "make-or-break" feature for virtually everyone in your target audience.

Ken Klose
Friday, June 13, 2003

My _subjective_ feedback:

1. Put the colorful "Lingo Language" logo at the top-left corner and get rid of the boring horizontal stripes.

2. Reduce the intro text... I'd say cut out most of the 1st and 3rd paragraphs.  Then, add some information about Lingo right there on the front page.  Put something 'catchy' out there that makes me want to learn more.  For example what's the key feature or aspect of Lingo that makes it stand out?  And maybe put the latest couple of news items out there.  (If you do this, be sure you have new news at least a couple times a month or the website will look start to look dead/abandoned.)

3. The buttons look kind of cheesy.

4. The screenshots are too small.  Make them clickable and open a separate window to display full-scale images.

5. A "Why should I use Lingo" page would be useful.

There's my 2c based on what makes a website get my attention and keep it.

-Thomas

Thomas
Friday, June 13, 2003

Random impressions, in no particular order:

"What's an FAQ" should read "a FAQ".  But also, I would think that your target audience is going to know that. (Struck me as odd).  Also, if your audience doesn't know what a FAQ is, then explaining what it is after the fact isn't *that* useful.

The website FAQ in general is probably going to be the least referenced section.  Why is it at the top?  My FAQ list would read something like:

What is Lingo (looking for a two sentence sound-bite)
Why should I use Lingo (top advantages?) or perhaps - Who is Lingo for? 
I missed the "what's different about Lingo" section at first glance, which would be my next question.

At first glance, I wondered what the difference between Lingo and VB is.  I mean, aside from the implementation.  I'll bet you'll get asked that a lot, because to someone with no background (like me) it seems to be the same on the surface.  (Actually, we have a similar problem, with people asking us: "What's the difference between our product and Front Page", or "What's the difference between our product and PHP".  Which, since we get both questions all the time from potential users depending on their background, tells you something.  But I digress.)

The technical spec section is a single line, so I missed it among the forest of words.  Also, the rest of the FAQ is just there, whereas this section wants me to click on something to go to another section.  I'd embed the technical specs into the FAQ as well as wherever else they are.

Shipping prices are listed and extraordinarily complete, but product prices are "not yet available".  Not sure of how you go about ordering via Pay Pal - I guess not yet.  I'd hide all of the Pay Pal stuff until you are ready to process orders.

"Finally, even the most brilliant progams sometimes have one or two little bugs! Use the Lingo debugger to ruthlessly hunt them down"  Took me a moment to realize you were talking about the program written in Lingo, and not Lingo itself.

Quote: "Only those who have successfully implemented an idea know the terrifying abyss between the idea and its implementation, and what it costs to bridge it"  Not exactly the warm fuzzies I'd want to get from a program purporting to make implementing an idea easy.

Speaking of the quotes - at first they seemed to deal with the difficulty of software design, but as I visited more pages, they increasingly talked about subjects all over the map.  I have mixed feelings about them.  Certainly I don't think they are worth the inch and a half prime real estate you've given them, but that's just a personal opinion.

Tech support.  Somewhere else I read that you "welcome" calls between certain hours, and email anytime.  Shouldn't your tech support number be on this page too, along with hours of operation? (Speaking of which, implying that you don't welcome calls outside of business hours strikes me as bizarre.  I'd just say: "For technical support, please call x during our business hours of, or call x between hour 1 and hour 2.)

News.  It's very cute.  It's got the personal voice thing - so again I'm ambivalent.  I'm just not sure whether I'd put that sort of information as "product news".  Also, most of the site comes across as very professional - eg defining insurance terms, non-delivery etc.  But then your news section has a completely different tone (starving programmer tearing out his hair in an office covered with plastic sheeting and only his cats for company).  Amusing, yes, but I was left confused as to the image you were trying to portray.

Phibian
Friday, June 13, 2003

I like the aesthetics. The purple visited links still stand out on the purple background but I see no reason not to change either the background color or the visited link. Play around.

I like the buttons, and I like the boxed effect. I'm viewing in Netscape 7.0 at 1280 x 1024 for what the info is worth.

The screenshots are too small.

The tone of the FAQ's is much too patronizing. Somebody who doesn't even know what a FAQ is is not going to be in the market for a programming language, however basic.

Get rid of the random quotes at the top. Irritating.

Try and give the initial page a little more impact.

In general you're on the right track though.

Stephen Jones
Friday, June 13, 2003

I agree that the buttons look kinda bad.  My first impression of the site was that it reminded me of how sites looked about 3 or 4 years ago.  It looks like a Frontpage theme.

jb
Friday, June 13, 2003

Dear Phibian,
                    It's 'AN FAQ'. The letter 'F' is pronounced 'eff' and thus begins with a vowel sound, just as we say 'A UFO' because the letter 'U' is pronounced 'you' and thus begins with a consonant sound.

Stephen Jones
Friday, June 13, 2003

I suggest a "User testimonials" section:

"WOW! ...more productive than Borland Delphi"
- RAD Booster

"Since I discovered it I'm finding putting together my programs so much easier."
- Ged Byrne

(with apologies)

There are probably more to find in the previous Lingo thread if you dig deep enough :)

Big B
Friday, June 13, 2003

Stephen - unless of course you pronounce it "fack" like I do. Then it's "What's a FAQ?"

And given the confusion, I'd just leave the question out completely and make the header

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

[Note - this is contrary to standard writing styles, but I think anyone who's scanning the headers will be scanning for 'FAQ'; people looking for answers will be reading and find the full text]

Philo

Philo
Friday, June 13, 2003

First of all, congradulations on getting this out the door! It must've been a lot of work.

An F.A.Q. or A FAQ (pronounced FACK), You say Potato I say Potatoe.

seriously though, purple background = less professional
big bubbly buttons = less professional.

Screen shot of the icon? What value does that add? Makes me think you're lacking real features to show me.

The logo should be in the upper left hand corner of the page, not just on the homepage.

Tables with borders went out of style a while ago

One day I'm going to write the Dress for Success for websites.

If you want developers to respect you, you could emulate Sourceforge.

At least those are my obsevations. =) Take 'em or leave 'em. My website commits the ultimate sin of having a black background, and I'm working on a new design... I think it's going to be black again.

Your assistants are cute. Are all of your random quotes things you found on JOS?

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, June 13, 2003

Thinking a bit more about the site; now its second thoughts really. I like the LingoLanguage logo. Have you considered using the four colors in the logo as an overall color theme for the site?

Also, before you start taking orders commercially, have another emailadress than the hotmail address currently on the site. Personally I tend to run in the opposite direction when I see hotmail and "Buy Now" on the same page.

In my experience its important to project a "company image" even if you are a small company/alone.

Patrik
Friday, June 13, 2003

So it's "What the FAQ's that!?"

Stephen Jones
Friday, June 13, 2003

Patrick, well said.

Color Schemer Online just updated, maybe this will help him choose colors:

http://www.colorschemer.com/online.html This one actually works in browsers other than IE.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, June 13, 2003

Aaargh, the pain....

Serionsly though, thank you all for the feedback and the suggestions. It's not always comfortable reading but it's exactly what I need. I'm going to print this out and use it for improvements.

FWIW I used notepad for the HTML (based on some files produced originally by hotdog), Paintshop pro for the buttons and some javascript for the quotes. I use dialup 56k modem and ISPs are fairly expensive here.

Thanks all.

Bill Rayer
Friday, June 13, 2003

I love Paint Shop Pro, but still use verison 4. It's a good fast & dirty tool.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, June 13, 2003

The version I used (6 or 7?) had pre-defined buttons and also generated the HTML for the button hilites (roll-overs in web artiste speak). Based on the feedback one of my tasks is to choose a more contemporary button :)

Bill Rayer
Friday, June 13, 2003

Why not choose a site and model yours after that one? Not quite rip it off, but do a side by side comparison and decide what elements on your site can be improved to bring it up to that level?

We don't create in a vacuum.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, June 13, 2003

First impression: quite slow to load

2nd impression: Too much of what Steve Krug (Don't Make Me Think) calls 'Happy Talk' on the homepage.  I mean 'This website has all the information you need to help with your programs.' ... doh!  Of course it does, its the bloody homepage of the language!  No need to state the obvious, people won't even read that far anyway.  Read Krug!!

I think you need a tagline, how about 'Lingo, the easiest way to write windows executables'

Oh man, those buttons on the left hand side take an age to render.  Quite annoying and makes the site feel a bit amateurish.

Site looks kind of dead without news on the front page, suggestion: cut down the happy talk and move your news/weblog to the front page.

I kept looking for a link to a language manual/guide/overview from the front page but it wasn't there.

Its a FREE demo download right?  Announce that loud and clear so I see it before I decide there is nothing interesting here.

Apologies for being over critical.  I think it sounds like an interesting product, although I'm not (yet) sufficiently motivated to download it.

Good luck with your business.

cheers,
Peter

Peter McKenzie
Friday, June 13, 2003

"Steve Krug (Don't Make Me Think)"

Awesome book. I recommend it to everyone concerned with usability. Again, see my (humorous) review on Amazon.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, June 14, 2003

Stephen: http://searchwebservices.techtarget.com/sDefinition/0,,sid26_gci213954,00.html

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=FAQ

For what it is worth, my impression is that the pronunciation "eff aa queue" is generally used if it is spelled "F.A.Q.", otherwise "fak" is the more common pronunciation (although both are acceptable).

Doing a general seach on google for "A FAQ" (368,000) vs "An FAQ" (72,000) it is clear that "A FAQ" is more common, however "The FAQ" is even more common (1,060,000)- and would avoid the confusion from people pronouncing it both ways.

Anyway.  To get this back on topic:
-Copyright notice for the language doesn't match your news section. (1992 vs 1998).  Why not?
-I really like the Product Information section.  It's concise, contains the information I need to know, and has cute icons :)  I think though that the Title "Product Information" and the sentence "this section etc" are superfluous.

I've thought more about what you are trying to do, and I'm wondering if you are targetting the right market.  The impression left by the website is that the tool is aimed at rank programming beginners.  The trouble is, that the vast majority of your non programming world is not likely to suddenly start programming.  Others that are interested in programming but lack the skills won't be able to program unless it is extremely easy (and doesn't require thinking like a programmer).  And, in this case, I think you are running into VB as a competitor again.  And, based on a previous thread, the consensus around here is that although VB is powerful, it's seen as a language for inferiors.  So there is a danger of marketing your tool as a tool for wanna be programmers.  Certainly, I'll bet your early adopters have at least a basic programming background (something I'd ask at time of download, but that's just me).  If that is the case, you should provide some examples beyond the "Hello World" variety.

Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Phibian
Saturday, June 14, 2003

<a href=http://www.erg.abdn.ac.uk/public_html/research/projects/lingo.html>http://www.erg.abdn.ac.uk/public_html/research/projects/lingo.html</a>

<a href=http://hallhtml.com/html_graphics_design/156.shtml>http://hallhtml.com/html_graphics_design/156.shtml</a>

<a href=http://www.lindo.com/table/lingot.html>http://www.lindo.com/table/lingot.html</a>

<a href=http://www.fbe.unsw.edu.au/Learning/Director/Lingo/programming.htm>http://www.fbe.unsw.edu.au/Learning/Director/Lingo/programming.htm</a>

Maybe you should choose a different name...
Saturday, June 14, 2003

Perhaps provide some downloads of executables that you have written in Lingo so that people can see what's possible.

Also, perhaps there should be a "Docs" link which would have the documentation (including the hello world program).  If there were downloadable docs then that would be great because that's how I evaluate languages.

There is a hello world program in the "Technical Support" area. I found that strange because technical support is for people who are having trouble installing Lingo or similar problems, not for people who want to learn how to program.

Also, the hello world program you have would be better if it used the same format as the example in the "Downloads - section 4 - Write a Program". i.e. colourful screenshot and simple instructions.

I don't like the look and feel, but I also appreciate how difficult this is for a programmer - do you have any graphic designer friends?

If it's possible, get your isp to add some http headers to your graphics directory that tell my browser to cache the images - I dislike sluggish mouseovers (or switch to some css mouseovers/hover).

MyNameHere
Saturday, June 14, 2003

It would really be A FAQ or A Freq...

You put A or AN based on the pronunciation of the word, not based on the pronunciation of the first letter.  Just like I would never say "give me AN freebie", just because it is the letter is pronounced eff....

Oren Miller
Saturday, June 14, 2003

If I were to look at this web site for real, I'd have two questions:
1. Is this a professional product, a real company? Or just someone fooling around?
2. Who is this for? How is it different than VB or Delphi?

Since two of the three paragraphs on the first page say nothing (paragraph 2 is good), I'd probably conclude that this isn't for real.

The rest of the site, in a quick look, gives me no sense of who this product is for or how it differs from others.

With some programs, I figure I can evaluate the actual program in a few minutes. So I download a demo and try it, rather than read a bunch of stuff on a web site. But not a compiler! It would take a few hours, at least, to get a sense of what it is all about. So you need to give me a really compelling reason to spend those few hours. This web site simply doesn't give me a single reason to do so.

What is the point here? Easier to learn? More efficient to build small programs? More efficient to build large applications? More compatible? More modular? Easier to spread work over a team? Easier to write programs for PDAs? ???? The web site really doesn't give me a clue.

Sorry to be so negative, but I don't  think it will be so hard to answer these questions and make a compelling site.

Harvey Motulsky
Saturday, June 14, 2003

What does Lingo offer over VB.NET or Java (which are free and much more robust?) 

Guy Incognito
Saturday, June 14, 2003

Oh, I'll concede this product probably made more sense back in 1992 when it was first conceived, but now it seems like sort of a dinosaur.

Congratulation on your accomplishment though nonetheless. 

Maybe a Lingo.NET would make more sense though if your really bent on sticking with it. 

(It’s just my personal opinion, but the language syntax is ugly!)

Guy Incognito
Saturday, June 14, 2003

If your interested in Lingo.NET I'd offer you my book "Compiling for the .NET Common Language Runtime" by John Gough... but for some reason it ended up in the pile of books I donate to library...

Guy Incognito
Saturday, June 14, 2003

I have to agree with Harvey.  A prominently displayed features matrix comparing it with VB, Delphi, Java or whoever you see Lingo as comparable to would really help a first time visitor get a sense of what Lingo is, and whether its useful to me.

Ken Klose
Saturday, June 14, 2003

Your logo looks old fashion and the purple color in the back is reminiscent of a solaris workstation = not friendly, academic and boring. Use shades of primary colors, specially blue  (it is a blue planet after all; humans evolved on it) and black and white.

You should dress like that too.

Pablo
Monday, June 16, 2003

Pablo, that logo is shades of primary colors. Or at least one primary (blue) and one secondary (orange).

Though the purple background seems to detract from both.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, June 16, 2003

Thanks everyone for the feedback. It's interesting how the same thing pops up again and again, eg the buttons, the purple background etc. Mr Usability guru ( http://www.useit.com ) said this happens in usability testing and now I believe him. Things I will change on http://www.lingolanguage.com are:

- Kill the random quote.
- Change colo[u]rs using the handy color schemer MarkTaw mentioned. I'll choose something grey/blue/silver. This will also fix the link color on the purple background. BTW I didn't know Solaris used purple.
- Redo screenshots using Windows XP. Lingo runs fine under XP, but I didn't have it handy when doing the screenshots.
- Make screenshots clickable to view larger screenshots.
- Move the Lingo logo to the top left corner in place of the purple stripes.
- Redo the intro page (there will be more room because of moving the logo and removing the quote). Include links to "why use Lingo" and "comparisons to other languages" on the intro page. Maybe also a link to an Overview and the **free** download :)
- Redo the navbar (purple buttons) with more contemporary looking buttons. Also remove the mouse-over hilites, or do it from Jscript to avoid the delay downloading the hilite gifs.
- Make the HTML compliant with the 4.01 DTD or whatever (it failed validator.w3.org).
- Minor FAQ changes, eg remove patronizing FAQ questions. Also change the wording thru the entire site to ensure 'FAQ' is never preceded by 'a' or 'an'!
- Make the tone more consistent and professional by removing some of the whiny stuff from the News page. People are interested in the product, not in the various dramas during development. We all have those.
- Get a proper email address, eg sales@lingolanguage.com etc. No more hotmail.

And...

- Add a feature matrix. This is the only recommendation I'm not so happy about, as I feel they're a bit fake. Also Lingo is a VHLL so there's some stuff that normal languages have that Lingo doesn't, and vice versa. Eg "Has globals" - Lingo [no] Others [yes]. "Has pre/post conditions" - Lingo [yes] Others [no] Eiffel [yes]. This will make people think there's irrelevant junk in there, instead of innovative new stuff.

Many thanks
Bill Rayer

Bill Rayer
Monday, June 16, 2003

Put the feature matrix in 3 columns: 1) Feature 2) Lingo 3) Others

For example:

Pre/post conditions ... Yes! ... No (except Eiffel)

If you think that it's innovative, then depending on the sophistication of your target audience you may want to explain it: "Pre/post conditions are great for <this type of application> because you can X instead of Y" ... because it's web-based instead of glossy-paper-brochure-based, you can hyperlink from each feature in the table to each feature explanation/selling point.

Christopher Wells
Monday, June 16, 2003

Bill - sounds good, let us know when you're done with it if you're ready for another run on the rack.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, June 16, 2003

Bill,
You didn't mention adding a tagline.  I wouldn't really call the current text on your homepage a tagline.  Have you read the useit piece on taglines?

Try:
http://useit.mondosearch.com/cgi-bin/MsmGo.exe?grab_id=49682925&EXTRA_ARG=&host_id=2&page_id=86&query=tagline&hiword=TAGLINE+TAGLINES+

Or just go to www.useit.com and search for tagline.

Cheers,
Peter

Peter McKenzie
Monday, June 16, 2003

sorry, but isn't Lingo the name of Macromedia's Director scripting language?

http://www.macromedia.com/support/director/lingo.html

J
Monday, June 16, 2003

Many thanks for the suggestions everyone - I will get the site fixed up in about 10 days.

J - There are quite a lot of Lingo's in existance. Look at the list compiled by "Maybe you should choose a different name..." about two feet up the page.

Later on, I'll start another topic about trading names, domain names and trade marks because it's an interesting subject.

Bill Rayer
Tuesday, June 17, 2003

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