Site review: CityCompass.ro (usability)

Hello, in this blog post I analyze the site of CityCompass.ro. I will do a general web site analysis (elements that can be applied to many pages), an analysis of the main elements in the homepage (cutting the homepage into pieces), and I will finish with an analysis of web site pages (the most important pages of the web site, analyzed separately).

Contents:

A. General web site analysis (elements that can be applied to many pages)
A1. Copywriting
A2. Design
A3. Structure of Information
A4. Usability
B. Analysis of the main elements in the homepage (cutting the homepage into pieces)
B1. Logo
B2. Header area
B3. Left sidebar
B4. Center area
B5. Right sidebar
B6. Footer
C. Analysis of web site pages (the most important pages of the web site, analyzed separately)
C1. About page
C2. Services
C3. Mass media
C4. Newsletters
C5. City Compass in the Press
C6. Contact page
C7. The blog
D. Conclusions
D1. Idea generation
D2. Important issues, to be implemented immediately

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A. General web site analysis (elements that can be applied to many pages)

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A1. Copywriting

+You write in a very good English; also, your web site has a lot of content;
1. (+important) The font face is very small, I can barely read the texts; I would increase the font size;
2. (+important) You use different font sizes on different pages; bad idea;
3. I’d look for solutions to writer shorter sentences, they are easier to read;
4. (+idea) What answers I’d love to receive from the web site:
a. Value Selling Proposition (VSP) – answer me the question: “What value does the web site bring? What are the benefits of using it?”; you should have a dedicated page the answers to these questions; tell me why your business field is good;
b. Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – this question is “What do you have and others in the same field don’t have”; what makes you different? Why you, instead of others? This is a key-question, which deserves to have an answer;
c. Guarantees – let’s say I buy from you, I don’t like your service; what happens then? Tell me what my guarantees of using the services you provide are;
d. Testimonials – what others clients who bought from you said; a long page, with name of persons, photographs and company names assigns you a lot of trust; do you have a lot of clients? Let me see them;
e. Case studies – this one is even better: you take one person and present the whole process; he was looking for a service in your field; he did a little research, he got to you eventually, and picked you because …; the result was that …; six months later he’s still satisfied because …; after he has recommended you to others, they reported him that …;
I would love to see all of these been linked-to on the “About us” page;
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A2. Design

+The colors are calm and relaxing, well done;

1. There is a lot of crowding on the web site; I tend to get confused easily;
2. The sidebar is very crowded, I’d reduce the number of things;
3. I’d make sure that the images on the web site are resized prior to uploading them on the web site;
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A3. Structure of Information

+Home is the first element in the menu, Contact the last; good;
1. (+idea) If I were you, instead of writing with a lot of typefaces, fonts, colors, bolded or italic, CAPS or Title Case, font sizes, I’d do just this:
I’d bold (that’s the one thing I would allow you to do) the first sentence in a paragraph, and specifically make that sentence describe the paragraph – or make subtitles and, again, bold them;
For hyperlinks I’d use either blue color or underline (a combination is also fine);
That’s it;
2. I’d look for a solution for people to get to any page of your web site within two clicks; right now it’s not that easy to navigate;
3. (+idea) I reach the footer area; give me something to do; scenario: I visit your homepage, read what it is to be read, I reach the footer area; here there are more options:
(i.) I can click one of the links in the footer, if there are any;
(ii.) I may leave the web site;
For (ii.) scenario not to happen, you should have some interesting links in the footer; top pages on your web site would be a good place to start;
4. (+idea) It would be interesting to have a page with help – what is a RSS feed? How are the newsletters delivered? How do I search the web site?
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A4. Usability

+The search option is in the upper-right corner, nice;
1. (+important) Bad practice: you give me a link to another page on your web site and you make it open in a new window; not good; it doesn’t matter what page is, if it’s not a PDF or an external type of file (an image, for example), I shouldn’t be forced to open a lot of browser windows on the same web site; bad idea;
2. I’d make the links underline or of a different color;
3. (+idea) Somewhere on the page it would be nice to include a box with “You call me back”; I would just have to write a phone number and you would call me; you can also ask for a name;
4. The search results page is very crowded, it’s hard for me to understand what to do next; I don’t think you need very advanced search operators, your site is rather small; I would only put advanced search as an extra option, not as the default search option; also, a good idea would be to make the search keywords in bold; also, just listing the name of the page might also be fine (so, show me the resulting pages, rather than include a snippet);
5. (+idea) You lack the use of a button with “Recommend the page to others” function; this is a must-have in my opinion; I’ve written an extended article in Romanian about this:
Cum adaugi un buton de rețele sociale – Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / Hi5 / Yahoo! Messenger pe blogul tău WordPress?“;
Main ideas:
(i.) Use only a few buttons, instead of a lot;
(ii.) Only use the services you think your customers will mostly use (email, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo! Messenger, for example);
(iii.) Make it very easy to share, reduce the number of clicks;
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B. Analysis of the main elements in the homepage (cutting the homepage into pieces)

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B1. Logo

+The logo is black & white, easy to print; I also like the idea of putting the compass in a bit of an angle, great effect (makes me wonder – do I really know where I want to go?);

1. You write “COMPASS” with capitals, I am not especially fond of this; why?
2. I don’t think that as a foreigner I come to Bucharest to feel at home; I think I’m more interested in finding new things in Romania;
3. I would avoid exclamation points in the motto;
4. The main idea of the logo is this – a fancy font, a CAPITAL word, a bit “screaming” motto and the image of a compass; sorry, I don’t consider that you have put enough efforts to make the process of having a good logo worth it;
5. The compass itself is a bit hard to notice, I’d try to make it a bit larger;
6. (+idea) I would love that the logo would have an idea behind it; yes, I can pretty much understand what it’s all about, but it’s not that creative to explain “City compass” with a compass; I would put more emphasis on finding a good idea for the logo;
7. You have a big problem with duplicate content (I’ll come back to this in the SEO section); yet the problem with duplicate content starts right from your logo; scenario: I visit your homepage (which may be 1 or 2), and then I click on the logo; you may think you’ll land again on the link you just came on; well, no! You will be sent to a different page – again, 1 or 2;
So, just by visiting the homepage and clicking on the first link, the search engines (and the humans) will run into the problem of duplicate content (that is, 4 URLs in total, as shown above, which have the exact same content);
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B2. Header area

+You clearly show that the city you refer to is Bucharest, and the idea of the map and a compass is very well suggested;

1. On the map of Romania, the compass you present is not actually oriented to North; it is just a little bit in a wrong angle;
2. On your map “Ploiești”, hardly seen, is spelled wrong;
3. Your welcome text is larger than the logo; a bit strange; also, due to the colors, it has more contrast and it’s easier to spot; again, strange;
4. I love what you did with the spaces in the logo, very nice to see; yet, I cannot help but notice that in your header area you waste a lot of space; your header is about 280 pixels high, and you only show two pictures, a logo and a motto; yes, it’s friendly, yes, it leaves the impression of open space, but it’s a bit too much; also, the whole thing with “we have a lot of space” is in big contradiction with the rest of the page, which is crowded, everything is mixed in there; so, the main theme of the web site is “everything is crowded”, with the sole exception of the header, where you go like “we have plenty of space”;
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B3. Left sidebar

+I like the fact that the “Home” link is the first in the list, while the “Contact” is the last; excellent!

1. The title of a menu item should not exceed one line; you have items with three lines of text, it’s too much;
2. I would avoid having exclamation points in the menu, seems aggressive:
“Advertise with City Compass!”;
3. The menu is not vertically aligned with the other columns; so, if you look at the center column or the column with the search box, they both start from somewhere higher than the column on the left;
4. I’m pretty sure you can write:
“City Compass in the Press”
with fewer words;
5. Why do you need to specify that the guide is online? I’m on a web site claiming to be a compass in the city, and that is, naturally, online; no need to mention “online” here:
“Bucharest Survival Guide Online – New Version”;
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B4. Center area

+You use bulleted points, bolded affirmations, use a good structure of information to make the text scannable by the readers;

1. You write:
“Buy the Bucharest Survival Guide 2010 at new locations below!”
using two font colors; this may be confusing, if considering that they might indicate to be links; so, the text in red may be considered a hyperlink;
2. The font face is very small, I can barely read the texts;
3. Isn’t it a bit ironic?
“This year’s edition is full of new, updated content”;
Can a updated content be anything but new? Why is it necessary to specify that the content is both new and updated? Isn’t it obvious that one leads to the other?
4. I presume you are kidding here:
“This year’s edition is full of new, updated content essential to survival”;
So, you are only kidding when saying that if I won’t read your guide, I won’t survive;
5. I would be more specific and state the year (2010), instead of just saying “This year’s”;
6. There should be a comma prior to “essential”:
“This year’s edition is full of new, updated content essential”;
7. You say this:
“Redesigned with the most pressing needs in mind”;
and I ask – “Who’s needs?”; it’s not clear;
8. This sentence:
“it is the must have source of info for newcomers and seasoned expats alike”
doesn’t specify this – “newcomers to what?”;
9. You say this:
“Completely Redesigned Look: This edition has a new color-coded layout and Table of Contents to make finding info easier (see example below!)”;
But this makes little sense; you start the sentence claiming that the guide has a new look & feel, and you finish the sentence by explaining with structure-based data; so you say “This house is beautiful, because the rooms are organized by numbers”; it’s nonsense;
10. Space missing:
“on-the-go.For”;
11. There’s either a “&” or a “,” missing:
“For quick easy”;
12. This claim can easily be proved false:
“For quick easy answers to all of your questions this is the source to have!”;
13. Comma missing:
“information with”;
14. Isn’t it a bit ironic that you first state that you have everything in the book and you need an appendix for this? So the book has it all, but you still need to add some extra information; don’t you think it’s a bit strange?
“It contains our full databases of information with massive lists and descriptions of everything from notaries to embassies, as well as our full appendices. “;
15. If I were you, I’d say what the reduction is from:
“The price of the new guide has been reduced this year to RON 30!”;
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B5. Right sidebar

+The search box is where I expect it to find, in the upper-right corner; the newsletter is in the sidebar, on the right; ads are all grouped together; great! Everything is fine from this point of view;

1. (+important) You have a small (in height) left sidebar, a larger center column, and an even larger right column; the result? I visit the website, I start reading the center column; after reaching the bottom, I still have to scroll down, due to the fact that the right column is longer than the center one; oops!
2. On the search function: I would lose the “search here” text; the search button is self-explanatory;
3. Your first upcoming event:
a. The title of the event, which is clickable, has no different color; how should I know I can click it?
b. I would avoid both to write October without a capital and to abbreviate it:
“oct”;
c. You have a blue text which is a link and a blue text which is not a link; do you see something wrong with this picture?
d. I would write the map not like this:
“, MAP”,
but rather:
“- see map”
or
“(see map)”;
Right now, writing with capital letters makes it no better than the usual text;
Rather than suggesting the viewers to find your title and click on it:
“(Click the title above for more info)”,
I would just make the text clickable and say:
“More details”;
So, in this way, both the title and the “more details” links would lead to the same page;
4. Your second upcoming event:
a. For the first event, on the very homepage, I can get – hour of the event, date, location, map; for the second event I get to know that it’s sometime in 2010, and, by looking at the picture, that it’s at the Parliament Palace; huh?
b. Again, don’t write:
“Click the picture above for more info.”;
instead, put a “More details” link;
c. It’s funny to see two texts in the “Upcoming events”, written either with italics typeface or not, with normal size fonts or with small fonts;
5. (+idea) Regarding the newsletter box – if I were you, I’d create a page dedicated to the newsletter, instead of having the option right in the sidebar; why the need for a dedicated page?
a. In the sidebar you give me no warranties – what will you do with my email address, how will I unsubscribe, how often you will send me emails, in what purposes you will use my email address; in a dedicated page, my advice would be to have all those details;
b. Also, a tip to you would be to register to Data Protection Romania, and get an official act which allows you to use email forms;
c. Right now I can’t see any of the previous newsletters; this would be an important function – I would like to know, prior to subscribing to a web site, what other newsletters have you sent; have a list of previous newsletters in a dedicated page;
d. Also interesting to have would be the option of displaying the current number of subscribers;
e. Also, still about the newsletter box, I would include the options to subscribe via:
– classic newsletter (email);
– RSS feed (you can specify this for a specific section in your web site);
– Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / other social network account in which to announce the most important events; you have to be where I, your visitor, already am;
6. About the newsletter – in Romania, at the countryside, we have this way of saying about a person that it’s “Ionel, the son of Măriuca”, or, shorter, “Ionel of Măriuca’s”; you notice that only the first name is used; it’s very rarely used, and especially at the countryside, but this is the impression when I saw your newsletter form: you ask for the first name and the company:
“Ionel of Petrom’s”;
If I were you, I’d ask for either “First name” and “Last name”, or for “Full name”;
Also, much more conventional, is just to ask for
“Name”
“Email”;
If you want to have more subscribers to the newsletter, make their life easier and ask them to fill as fewer fields as possible – why not just email?
7. The idea with “Powered by Inwise” is good, it gives me trust in your newsletter, but I land in a Romanian page, I would prefer to land on a page with details in English;
8. You say:
“CityCompass Newsletter”
and one row below:
“Subscribe to the CityCompass Newsletter”;
Don’t you think that just by saying “Subscribe”, it would have been enough?
9. Sometime you use titles with an initial capital:
“Email Address”,
and sometimes not:
“First name”;
Disturbing;
10. The newsletter button says:
“Send”;
So, in my mind this idea forms:
“Oh, I will give away my email address, it will be sent somewhere, to a web site I don’t really trust”;
How about having a button that says:
“Subscribe”,
with this idea behind it:
“By clicking the button, I will receive the newsletters that I want so much”;
See the difference?
11. Your banner about “Corstjens Worldwide movers” has this image:
corstjens_web.bmp
It is a small black & white picture which, due to the fact that it’s saved as BMP file, not as PNG (for files with small number of colors, like the current one), has 70+ kb; the PNG version has 20+ kb;
You can read on this page – “What is the difference between “JPG” / “JPEG” / “PNG” / “BMP” / “GIF” / “TIFF” Image?“:
“BMP shouldn’t be used online within web pages – wastes bandwidth”
12. There is a problem with the vertical space that you have kept between images:

As you can see, sometimes it’s larger, sometimes it’s smaller;
13. Regarding the currency convertor:
a. Your currency convertor has this title:
“Leu exchange rate”;
Two lines below, I see “1 Eur”; so, I should guess that 1 Leu = 1 Eur?
b. Also, the title of the box is obviously wrong, the correct title should be “Euro Exchange rate”;
c. Another thing: wouldn’t it be just great to present this as a link? Do you think I need to see the rate more than once in a visit on the web site? You have allocated so much space to that box, it’s relatively futile; put just a link to an online converter;
d. Let’s say I’m from Denmark; I go to your web site and I see a converter from 1 Euro to 1 Krone; do you think that need to know that currency? Being from Denmark, I probably know this already; I might be interested to go from 1 Krone to 1 Leu; even better, to go from a sum I actually have, 187 Kroner to some amount of lei; this, I can’t do; on the web site I’d have to figure how many Euros does 187 Kroner mean, and from that to convert to Lei; huh? It’s really pointless to me; no use;
e. (+idea) What to do with the current currency box? Either put a link to an online converter, or put a small form with three fields:
Convert
(how many field)
(from what currency)
to
(to what currency)
Go;
And when I click go, I’m lead to an online resource which gives me the exact answer; this yes, would be of interest to me;
Also, when listing the currency, list the most used first (Eur, Lei);
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B6. Footer

+Wow, you have an HTML sitemap on the web site, great idea!

1. The copyright notice is one year behind:
“Copyright and all Rights reserved © 2009, CityCompass.ro “;
2. Why write “Rights” with an initial capital, and no other words in the sentence?
3. Again, some items are with an initial capital:
“Legal Information”,
while others are not:
“Terms and conditions”;
4. What’s with the title:
“Legal Information”?
That is the one place in your web site where you have something that is legal?
Or have you gathered all that boring and eeky stuff in one page, so I would have the option of not seeing it?
I really don’t like your choice of a name;
I visited the page and I had the surprise of a lifetime – you put in there the name of the company and fiscal data;
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C. Analysis of web site pages (the most important pages of the web site, analyzed separately)

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C1. About page

+Very good information in this page, great job!
1. When I visit an about page on a web site, I generally want to know more about the web site, the team behind it, the business that drives it; for real information that consists of site’s purpose, I expect dedicated pages; if I were you, I’d move the information about Romania and Bucharest in other sections;
2. Your numbering doesn’t have dots after them; so you say:
“1 About City Compass (video)”;
Where’s the dot?
3. It’s really rather irrelevant to number four items; it’s of no particular use to me, as a visitor to your web site, if you decide that information about Romania is on 3rd position or 4th; I don’t care about that;
4. Again, look at the font sizes:

It’s disturbing to see a logo in a smaller font than the title of the page; it’s also disturbing to see a huge title of the page, very small menus, very small breadcrumbs;
The text on the page is, by comparison, quite normal; but I would strive to make all of the text on the page of “normal” size;
5. Too much space between the menu options;
6. Why, in this list of items:
“1 About City Compass (video)
2 City Compass Team
3 Romania
4 Bucharest”,
only “City Compass” has “About” preceding it? Very strange option;
7. About City Compass:
a. The font in the video is small, hard to read;
b. I noticed small typo in the clip in Romanian:
“deasemenea” should have a space in it (“de asemenea”);
c. Your video has an embed option; it’s really rather pointless to have this option, YouTube offers it by default;
d. I loved your video, the idea to show yourselves in a video format is great; however, I might say that you didn’t deliver the promise of telling me about City Compass; or perhaps my expectations only weren’t met; if I go in a typical “About this company” page, I expect to find different results;
e. (+idea) For those persons who access the web site on a mobile phone, you might think of including in the current page a transcript of the video;
f. (+important) The current page (About City Compass – video) doesn’t appear in the menu on the left; big problem;
8. City Compass Team:
a. I think this is illogical:
“get to know the city faster and more detailed”;
Get to know more detailed? What?
b. You start by:
“I was born in Biberach, Germany.”
Christian Pauls starts by:
“I have lived since May 2007 in Bucharest.”;
I think it would have been better to have a framework – I mean, you say a lot of what you did prior to Romania, Christians – bam! – he’s in Bucharest since 2007; both presentation are fine, but I feel they’re on a different perspective, not actually a team;
c. (+idea) On the team page, I’d love to see listed the phone numbers (with international prefixes) of each person on the page;
d. The Gospels present the life of Jesus from different times – they focus on different parts, some go faster in the first period, some put accent on the last period; it’s the exact same feeling I get when seeing the presentation:
Volker – prior to founding the company + present day;
Christian – present day, nothing about the past;
Bizu – prior to founding the company, nothing about the present;
e. I find these texts:
“Working at City Compass has been a great experience; introducing expats to this crazy city is a lot of fun.”
a bit unrevealing; it’s no different than “I like my job”; OK, you like it, by why exactly? What makes it fun and a great experience?
f. The pictures don’t have the same backgrounds;
9. About Romania:
a. I can barely read the text; very small fonts;
b. You use different font sizes on different pages; bad idea;
c. You can write:
“1st”
like this:
“1st“;
d. Is this relevant to anything?
“Romania has the 9th largest territory and the 7th largest population (with 21.5 million people) among the European Union member states.”;
Sure, the information about the population number is important, but the ranking?
e. You are my survival guide for Bucharest and you give me this information?
“Capital City : Its capital and largest city is Bucharest (2.6 million inhabitants)”;
The information is actually true, but the number of people who are in Bucharest is much larger, you should have specified this;
f. This is actually funny:
“Total 238,391 km2 (92,043 sq mi). 82nd country in the world”;
Why is it relevant if I am 82nd or 94th?
g. (+important) You should specify the source of information on the About Romania page; who says this:
“Autumn is dry and cool, with fields and trees producing colorful foliage”?
You?
h. (+idea) You have a tendency to present links like this:
“Additional info:
www.romaniatourism.com
www.unseenromania.com
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania”;
How about this:
“Additional info:
Romania Tourism (www.romaniatourism.com): a site very rich in information about X; we find it interesting that Y; the best thing about the web site is Z; you should definitely read this and that;
Unseen Romania (www.unseenromania.com): a site very rich in information about X; we find it interesting that Y; the best thing about the web site is Z; you should definitely read this and that;
Romania page on Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania) : a site very rich in information about X; we find it interesting that Y; the best thing about the web site is Z; you should definitely read this and that;”;
It’s like this: “Go see X movie”; the answer to this:
“You ask me to stay and watch a 1-2 hours movie, based on your feeling that I will like it? Couldn’t you give me a hint on why you think so?”;
10 . Bucharest:
a. This is very bad idea:
“Map of Bucharest:”;
You give me this text, I should expect to see a map right? Instead, I see a 269×269 pixels map (small), from which I can’t see a thing; I click on it, nothing happens; whoops, bad idea;
b. Funny (not in a good way) thing: I right-click on the image, and select “View image”; the image shows at its right size, 800×800 pixels; if you think that 90+% of your visitors won’t do this, I think you are right; in the current state, it’s just a very large image (800×800), showing in a small size (269×269); not the best idea; you can read here:
In an html document, is it a bad practice to resize images with the height and width tags?
this:
“When you leave image resizing to the browser, the original (full-size) image has to be downloaded before the browser can display it at a smaller scale. This means that you use more bandwidth and your webpage takes longer to load. However, if you mainly use the larger image throughout your site, then it will be faster to always use this image, since the browser can cache it.
If you’re concerned about image quality, you would get better results and would have more control over the downsampling process using a dedicated graphics application to resize the image..”;
c. I checked and you did the same thing with the map of Romania;
d. Do most of your site visitors prefer miles instead of kilometers?
“Size: City of Bucharest – 88 sq.miles (228 sq.km);
_____Bucharest Metropolitan area – 587 sq.m(1,521 sq.km)”;
I’ve seen on other pages that you use km, so anyhow, either here or in the other pages you do something bad (even not keeping consistency);
e. Again, you do this:
“Population: City ~ 1.93 million (2007)
__________Metropolitan ~2.6 million (2007)”;
You claim to be my guide, and you give me the official figures of population? I think you should make me aware that the people that can be found in Bucharest in any given day are much more than the official numbers (students, tourists, illegal inhabitants);
f. If I were you, I’d either:
– list more than one option for the weather:
“Bucharest Weather Forecast”;
– explain why you have picked this weather channel in favor of others;
g. Look at the link below:
The subway map in Bucharest (click to open)“;
Does it look fine?
Well, the “The” word has a link to an old map, while the rest of the text has the correct link; oops;
h. Bad practice: you give me a link to another page on your web site and you make it open in a new window; not good; it doesn’t matter what page is, if it’s not a PDF or an external type of file (an image, for example), I shouldn’t be forced to open a lot of browser windows on the same web site; bad idea;
“For more information about Bucharest please search our Online Guide.”
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C2. Services

+You have a video on the page, it makes me feel good;
1. I would avoid putting the same video on different pages; I saw it once, don’t show it again; the video is an “About” video, not a “Services” video; sorry, it doesn’t fit;
2. Bad spacing:
““Feel at Home”- services”;
You either put a space before and after “-“, or you don’t put any;
3. Sometimes you say:
“expatriates”,
while other times you say:
“expats”;
I’d pick an option, be it formal or informal, and stick to it;
4. I think a comma is needed prior to “for”:
“Bucharest City Tours for”;
5. Also:
“clients on demand as well as”;
6. What?
“The book is available also online for free at www.citycompass.ro.”;
I’m on the web site, give me link to the guide, and don’t speak to me as if this were a printed guide;
Also, I would avoid writing text in the middle of the sentences with smaller typeface than the rest of the text;
7. If I were you, instead of:
“we publish a newsletter which is sent on a bi-monthly basis”,
I’d say:
“we publish a newsletter which is sent on the 1st and 15th day of the month”,
or
“we publish a newsletter which is sent on the 1st and 3rd Monday of the month”;
I prefer clarity;
8. Discover Little Paris City Tour:
a. “Did you know …”;
“Do you know …”;
“Did you know …”;
I would keep the same verb tense;
b. How do you know this?
“Led by a local historian and researcher, this unforgettable two-hour trek through history, art, politics and religion, will change the way you see the city.”
It’s like saying “I’m the smartest on my street, and I will beat you at chess”; it’s much better to say “I proved in a test that I’m the smartest in my class and I’ve beaten the computer two times at chess”; you know?
c. How could I discover these?
“We will discover the Royal Palace – National Art Museum, the Romanian Atheneum, the Revolution Square, Vilacrosse Passage, Stavropoleos Church and many more”;
Wouldn’t it be better to say “Know more about”?
Also, “Atheneum” is actually “Athenaeum”;
d. Comma:
“City Tour please”;
“City Tour please” (again);
e. See below:

just how many times you switch typefaces, font sizes, whether the text is bolded or italic; my eyes hurt; badly;
9. Communism to Democracy City Tour
a. Shouldn’t the title be something like:
“”Communism to Democracy” City Tour” (extra quotes),
instead of:
“Communism to Democracy City Tour”?
b. The title isn’t specific (is it Bucharest or something else?); to me, it’s just like saying:
“Oh, you know, it’s the city; Romania has this city – Bucharest; so we can all call it “City”, since, you know, there’s just one city”;
I don’t like this;
c. I don’t know the bus tour, but since you say:
“Our expert guide (a Bucharest native) will take you on a journey to deep within the heart of the city’s cultural and political history: fifty years of communism, twenty years of democracy, and the “Golden Age” of the interwar period have all shaped the city in different and profound ways.”,
I find it hard to see this delivered from these sights:
“Piata Victoriei
Calea Victoriei
Dambovita
Palace of the people
Ferentari quarter
Unirii square
University square
Calea Mosilor
Obor market
Floreasca”;
Besides Obor and Ferentari (Floreasca perhaps also), to me there’s nothing that “Deep”; most of them are central locations;
10. Discover Hidden Romania – Dracula weekend trip:
a. In this page you’ve also added changing font color and writing with ALL CAPS as methods of convincing me of how great you are;
b. If I were you, instead of writing with a lot of typefaces, fonts, colors, bolded or italic, CAPS or Title Case, font sizes, I’d do just this:
I’d bold (that’s the one thing I would allow you to do) the first sentence in a paragraph, and specifically make that sentence describe the paragraph – or make subtitles and, again, bold them;
For hyperlinks I’d use either blue color or underline (a combination is also fine);
That’s it;
c. Why do I care since when you offer a service? It’s not relevant to me:
“offered by City Compass in collaboration with The Company of Mysterious Journeys as of May 2010”;
d. I know you want me to show me a map, but where is the punctuation for ending a sentence?
“Piata Charles de Gaulle, main entrance of Herastrau Park, next to the statue of Charles de Gaulle MAP”;
e. Bad paragraph:
“next
to”;
“and
cultural”;
“offered
them”;
f. What’s with the approximation?
“there are about 365 dams”
I’d rather say:
“there are about 360 dams”
or
“there are about 350 dams”;
This “about 365” is too precise for an “about” approximation;
g. “The one at Vidraru is a Top 10 one.” … (according to?);
h. “…hear the story of the Transfagarasan, one of the most challenging roads ever built” (according to…?);
11. Testimonials:
a. To me this is a bad testimonial to include on your page:
“Thanks to the guide I start to have some feelings for this city”;
OK, so prior to visiting the Bucharest in detail, it was a blunt city; now, it might stand a chance; hmm, so if I don’t come to see your tour, there’s a good chance I’ll consider the city dull? Not a very good reason to come to Romania, in this case;
b. I like the pictures of the people a lot, yet it’s a bit strange that there mostly two kinds of people:
– Those who share a picture and not a company;
– Those that share the company, not a picture;
12. Welcome to Bucharest: Introductory Coaching:
a. Comma missing:
“Workshop please”;
“workshop please” (again);
b. And a dot:
“please click here”;
c. I told you before about browser resizing of pictures; the problem is still here in the page, pictures are larger than what they should be (they are uploaded as large pictures, and resized via the browser);
13. Getting Things Done in Romania: Business Coaching:
a. I would avoid having this part:
“Key insights:”
for the 1-to-1 coaching sessions;
How can you tell, prior to the session, what will my key insights be?
It’s not clear that the “Key insights” section refers only to the groups;
b. To me, in a training session, the trainer tells me – “This is like this, this is like that”; in a coaching session, the trainer makes me get an idea – “Oh, I think this is like this”; I will get the insight, even if it’s true or not; you tell me, even for the groups, what are the main insights that I’ll get; oops, I think this is rather a training, than a coaching;
14. Bucharest Guide Bucharest Expat guide 2010 – printed version
a. Space missing:
“on-the-go.For”;
b. And a comma:
“questions this”;
15. City Angel: personal assistance:
a. I didn’t see this service:
“If you need help with a particularly challenging aspect of the city (translation during a shopping-trip”
offered in any other part of the web site, so it’s intriguing that you offer it as a one-to-one service;
b. Comma:
“assistance please”;
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C3. Mass media:

+You give links to each media apparition, that’s great;
1. The link for
“The Frank Show on The Money Channel”
is broken;
2. You have translated “Trinitas” as “Trinity”, I don’t think that this is correct:
“The Romanian Church even has its own station called ‘Trinity’”;
3. I would love that you would write a small description – why pick this in favor of that? Help me with this;
4. I don’t understand why you don’t link to the English section of a newspaper, instead of the homepage;
5. Again, links on this page that lead to your own web site (newsletter) open in a new window, instead of opening in the current window; not a good practice;
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C4. Newsletters:

+You have an archive of the newsletters, well done!
1. I have entered an email, a name, a company, I got this message:
“Thanks for signing up to our newsletter!
We will keep you up to date with useful information about Bucharest: Cultural and social events, hints for newcomers and new products and services in town!”;
What’s wrong with this picture?
After I type in an email address, I should be told – “You should now check your email address and confirm your subscription”; I really don’t care if you do this or not, you should change your message; also, I’ve checked my email – no confirmation message received, I was just subscribed; this is bad practice; someone with bad intentions might subscribe other persons to your newsletter, without their approval; thus you would be spamming, against your wish; bad practice;
2. For the newsletter confirmation page – space missing:
“guests- we”;
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C5. City Compass in the Press:

+I like the idea of gathering all the information about you on a section;
1. You say on “Dacian Dispatch Article September 2009” page:
“Click the article for a high resolution version!”;
This is too technical, tell me I should click to see better; I might not know what a high resolution is, and I don’t need to;
2. I would consider putting the articles also as text, not only as a PDF version;
3. For the videos, an idea would be to include a small description of the videos;
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C6. Contact page:

+Lots of options for contact;
1. I would put the legal information in here;
2. I’d give a name for a contact person, not just a phone number;
3. I’d present in this page the team of City Compass, with their respective email addresses;
4. In all the web site the emails are not protected against spam, and in the contact page they are; it’s a hard to understand procedure;
5. I don’t see the reason of listing your web site in the contact page;
6. I would put a mobile phone symbol near your phone since it really is a mobile phone;
7. Some fields below are Title Case, while some are not:
“Enter your Name:
E-mail address:
Message Subject: “;
8. Why don’t also ask for a phone to be contacted at when submitting a form;
9. Your email form is bogus; I’ve tried contacting you with fake data (invalid email address) and it didn’t give me an error message, but I couldn’t send the message until I got the error fixed; but you should have let me know – hey! There is a problem with your email address, work on that;
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C7. The blog:

+The search option is in the upper right corner, good!
1. I would put the archives option as a drop-down menu; I’d also list in it the number of blog posts for each month;
2. You don’t offer the option to subscribe via email; why is that?
3. I’d suggest considering moving your blog from the current address:
blog.citycompass.ro
to this one:
citycompass.ro/blog
for Search Engine Optimization reasons;
Read more about this decision on SEOmoz:
Root Domains, Subdomains vs. Subfolders and The Microsite Debate“;
4. I’d remove the “Log in” link on your blog; it’s only useful to blog admins, not to your visitors;
5. For the comment option, I’d make this text:
“Mail (will not be published) (required)”
look like this:
“Mail (required, will be kept private)”;
6. I’d state that the web site is optional;
7. I’d put an option for RSS subscription for the comments of each blog post; if I wish to see what do others comment on a blog post, I would like to have this option; details;
8. You say:
“Author: Bucharest Angel”;
I’d state the name;
9. The calendar function is really great, I would include it as a link from the main site;

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D. Conclusions

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D1. Idea generation

1. What answers I’d love to receive from the web site:
a. Value Selling Proposition (VSP) – answer me the question: “What value does the web site bring? What are the benefits of using it?”; you should have a dedicated page the answers to these questions; tell me why your business field is good;
b. Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – this question is “What do you have and others in the same field don’t have”; what makes you different? Why you, instead of others? This is a key-question, which deserves to have an answer;
c. Guarantees – let’s say I buy from you, I don’t like your service; what happens then? Tell me what my guarantees of using the services you provide are;
d. Testimonials – what others clients who bought from you said; a long page, with name of persons, photographs and company names assigns you a lot of trust; do you have a lot of clients? Let me see them;
e. Case studies – this one is even better: you take one person and present the whole process; he was looking for a service in your field; he did a little research, he got to you eventually, and picked you because …; the result was that …; six months later he’s still satisfied because …; after he has recommended you to others, they reported him that …;
I would love to see all of these been linked-to on the “About us” page;
2. If I were you, instead of writing with a lot of typefaces, fonts, colors, bolded or italic, CAPS or Title Case, font sizes, I’d do just this:
I’d bold (that’s the one thing I would allow you to do) the first sentence in a paragraph, and specifically make that sentence describe the paragraph – or make subtitles and, again, bold them;
For hyperlinks I’d use either blue color or underline (a combination is also fine);
That’s it;
3. I reach the footer area; give me something to do; scenario: I visit your homepage, read what it is to be read, I reach the footer area; here there are more options:
(i.) I can click one of the links in the footer, if there are any;
(ii.) I may leave the web site;
For (ii.) scenario not to happen, you should have some interesting links in the footer; top pages on your web site would be a good place to start;
4. It would be interesting to have a page with help – what is a RSS feed? How are the newsletters delivered? How do I search the web site?
5. Somewhere on the page it would be nice to include a box with “You call me back”; I would just have to write a phone number and you would call me; you can also ask for a name;
6. You lack the use of a button with “Recommend the page to others” function; this is a must-have in my opinion; I’ve written an extended article in Romanian about this:
Cum adaugi un buton de rețele sociale – Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / Hi5 / Yahoo! Messenger pe blogul tău WordPress?“;
Main ideas:
(i.) Use only a few buttons, instead of a lot;
(ii.) Only use the services you think your customers will mostly use (email, Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo! Messenger, for example);
(iii.) Make it very easy to share, reduce the number of clicks;
7. I would love that the logo would have an idea behind it; yes, I can pretty much understand what it’s all about, but it’s not that creative to explain “City compass” with a compass; I would put more emphasis on finding a good idea for the logo;
8. Regarding the newsletter box – if I were you, I’d create a page dedicated to the newsletter, instead of having the option right in the sidebar; why the need for a dedicated page?
a. In the sidebar you give me no warranties – what will you do with my email address, how will I unsubscribe, how often you will send me emails, in what purposes you will use my email address; in a dedicated page, my advice would be to have all those details;
b. Also, a tip to you would be to register to Data Protection Romania, and get an official act which allows you to use email forms;
c. Right now I can’t see any of the previous newsletters; this would be an important function – I would like to know, prior to subscribing to a web site, what other newsletters have you sent; have a list of previous newsletters in a dedicated page;
d. Also interesting to have would be the option of displaying the current number of subscribers;
e. Also, still about the newsletter box, I would include the options to subscribe via:
– classic newsletter (email);
– RSS feed (you can specify this for a specific section in your web site);
– Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / other social network account in which to announce the most important events; you have to be where I, your visitor, already am;
9. What to do with the current currency box? Either put a link to an online converter, or put a small form with three fields:
Convert
(how many field)
(from what currency)
to
(to what currency)
Go;
And when I click go, I’m lead to an online resource which gives me the exact answer; this yes, would be of interest to me;
Also, when listing the currency, list the most used first (Eur, Lei);
10. For those persons who access the web site on a mobile phone, you might think of including in the current page a transcript of the video;
11. On the team page, I’d love to see listed the phone numbers (with international prefixes) of each person on the page;
12. You have a tendency to present links like this:
“Additional info:
www.romaniatourism.com
www.unseenromania.com
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania”;
How about this:
“Additional info:
Romania Tourism (www.romaniatourism.com): a site very rich in information about X; we find it interesting that Y; the best thing about the web site is Z; you should definitely read this and that;
Unseen Romania (www.unseenromania.com): a site very rich in information about X; we find it interesting that Y; the best thing about the web site is Z; you should definitely read this and that;
Romania page on Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Romania) : a site very rich in information about X; we find it interesting that Y; the best thing about the web site is Z; you should definitely read this and that;”;
It’s like this: “Go see X movie”; the answer to this:
“You ask me to stay and watch a 1-2 hours movie, based on your feeling that I will like it? Couldn’t you give me a hint on why you think so?”;

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D2. Important issues, to be implemented immediately

1. The font face is very small, I can barely read the texts; I would increase the font size;
2. You use different font sizes on different pages; bad idea;
3. Bad practice: you give me a link to another page on your web site and you make it open in a new window; not good; it doesn’t matter what page is, if it’s not a PDF or an external type of file (an image, for example), I shouldn’t be forced to open a lot of browser windows on the same web site; bad idea;
4. You have a small (in height) left sidebar, a larger center column, and an even larger right column; the result? I visit the website, I start reading the center column; after reaching the bottom, I still have to scroll down, due to the fact that the right column is longer than the center one; oops!
5. The current page (About City Compass – video) doesn’t appear in the menu on the left; big problem;
6. You should specify the source of information on the About Romania page; who says this:
“Autumn is dry and cool, with fields and trees producing colorful foliage”?
You?

_______
Bottom line: CityCompass.ro is a very well made web site, with an incredible guide on it.

I am a Freelancer. My expertise is in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) / UX (user experience) / WordPress. Co-founder of lumeaseoppc.ro (series of events on SEO & PPC) and cetd.ro (Book on branding for MDs). On a personal level, I like self-development - events, sports, healthy living, volunteering, reading. I live in London, and lots of things live in me.

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