Demonstrative blog review of University of Bucharest’s Media blog

In this blog post, my comments are headed to University of Bucharest’s Media blog.

Note: I refer to the current web site as a blog, due to it’s relative similarity to a blog, even if the Content Management System (CMS) is neither WordPress, nor Blogspot, the two most used blogging systems in Romania.

Copywriting

+I generally advise people against using a calendar function, but you have implemented yours very well, with the exact solution I advise others – to use the calendar as a planning solution; well done!
+Your use of diacritics is astonishing;

1. Regarding the press release section:

a. I would advise you against using “10” as an abbreviation for “2010”, it’s not commonly used;
b. I would put the date at the end of the title of the press release; in this way, you would avoid having text use three lines, instead of two;
c. The date is a bit hard to read; either put it or remove it;
2. I’d put some decimals separators in this page, the phone numbers are very hard to read; also, why the title of the page is underline? This, on the web, is reserved to hyperlinks and that is not a hyperlink;

Design

+I like your use of white space, very nice touch;

1. You have a banner in the sidebar:

a. In my opinion, using a Flash banner for a text-based web site is bad for usability; it’s not as if you really need this Flash embed for your web site to be better, it’s an optional feature; remove it if you don’t need it;
b. You have made a sort of advertisement for an important function on your website; and yet, instead of using high contrast colors, with a catchy image, you preferred to create sort of a banner; you should know that most of internauts are likely to skip watching an animated banner, so your desired effect – catch attention – might actually be in practice an opposite effect – stay away from;
c. Romania has a problem with illegal practice regarding examination; associating your admission exam with sort of a look through the key hole is a rather unwise solution;
2. The banner from the summer school:

suffers from the same problem; if I were you, I’d just create a static banner using the exact same color combinations you currently used; animated banners for self-promotion = bad (to me);
3. Your sidebar:

takes up too much space; you have made it very well – a good descriptive text, an illustrating photo, good title, a call-to-action; yet, it’s all too much; it’s one thing to recommend one action (subscribe to Twitter, find us on Facebook), and it’s another thing to have six (!) call-to-actions just for sections on your web site; put them all on one page and write longer descriptions; your sidebar is crushingly busy; everything is important – the admission, the social networks, other sections on the web site; in my opinion, if everything becomes important to you, the author, then nothing is important from my point of view, the reader;

SEO

+Your footer is living proof of what a good footer, SEO-wise, is all about:

It has the address, phone number, fax number, city and country; chapeau!
1. The title for the main page is:
“Media UB”;
If I were you, I’d add a few keywords to the title;
2. If I visit a non-existent page on your blog, I don’t get any error message (which is bad), and I don’t get a search box and a list of the most popular blog posts on your blog (which is even more bad than bad);
3. I don’t know why you prefer your blog posts to end with .html, it’s no use for SEO purposes;

Structure of information

+You have breadcrumbs implemented on your web site; that’s simply great!
1. While I love that you have an assigned page to your partners, I’d also put a small description for each partner;
2. In the context:

it’s not clear that the dropdown is for showing a given number of blog posts per page;
Also, the first field is for filtering information via keywords; how should I know this just by looking at the field?
3. The contact page misses a map; some contact persons (or, my-oh-my!, even some photos with people who are in charge of public relations) would also do wonders;

Usability

+The search box is in the upper-right corner, well done;
1. There is no button for “Search”; so if I type a search string, I don’t have the option to click on a “Search” button; that’s not very inspired;
2. The search box doesn’t inform me that I have to type Enter after I type the search string; pretty bad;
3. Generally, after I see a menu option with three dots in the end (“…”), I expect a new window, requiring additional information, to a appear; this doesn’t happen in the case of the search box;

The header area

+You have an option for RSS subscription, very good!

1. I’d also add an option to subscribe to the comments feed, not only to the posts feed, and I’d also use Google’s Feedburner for both advanced subscription settings (like counting the RSS subscribers) and the option to subscribe to the blog posts via email; I have seen the email subscription option below, but it’s not very relevant to post it in a different position;
2. If you are not a web site with news, the note with the last update:
“Ultima actualizare:”
makes little sense; if I don’t depend on the news you provide, knowing the exact minute you updated the web site is not very important to me, your reader;
3. The link for RSS subscription is not very obvious, it’s a bit hard to spot it;
4. I’m not sure I like the date display that much; yes, it’s not that bad to have the date displayed, but I’m also not a big fan of it;

The two logos


+The logo of the University of Bucharest is inspiring; I look at it and I think of both virtues and knowledge;
1. You have in the header symbols of text, photos, sounds and videos; perhaps it would be better to make the icons lead to something; so, if I click on the videos icons, I should be directed to a section in your website dedicated to videos;
2. You say this is a web site about media, and you attach to it three types of media; while this is a very good synthesis of the information I will actually get on the web site, I would have preferred to see something deeper than this association:
“We’re about multimedia, we show you a picture with multimedia”;
That’s not really a very deep thought;
3. I can’t say I am big fan of writing sentences that start with a small letter;
4. I guess the pictures in the header should represent all kind of media; while I can see texts, audio and perhaps evens some photos, I can’t spot anything related to videos;

The email subscription box


+The field exits, and I can subscribe in one step; that’s fine;
1. You say I subscribe to the newsletter of the University of Bucharest; but wait! I’m not on the page of the University of Bucharest, I’m on the page with Media; that’s a different thing, yet the email subscription form doesn’t present the situation like this;
2. I don’t like to see the security form field; if I were you, I’d put a link “Subscribe via email”, and that link can get me to a page in which I can insert my email address and a captcha; your current solution – putting both of these things on the homepage has these problems:
a. It takes up valuable space on the screen – a lot of rows on each page of the web site; I can only subscribe one time, yet you show me again and again the newsletter subscription box; I don’t like this thing;
b. 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;
c. My tip to you would be to register to Data Protection Romania, and get an official act which allows you to use email forms;
d. 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;

The Facebook box


+It’s great to have a Facebook box on your web site, Facebook is currently the largest social network in the world (concerning number of users) and on the first places in Romania (perhaps with less users than Hi5, but this is likely to change); Facebook has also started in the academic field, so it’s more student-oriented than other networks;
1. While I can’t count the specific page size of that box, have a look at it: it’s a looooooooooooong scrollable box, with photos and text; if I were you, I’d only show the banner with the page and with the button to like the page; right now it just shows too much information;
2. I think you can set Facebook to display the banner in Romanian language;
3. I would expect to find the Facebook button along the other subscription features – RSS and email;

The footer area

+I love that you have given your viewers something to do – once they’ve reached the footer area, they still have plenty to read – other blogs, other web sites, there’s a link to the archive; if anything else fails, there’s even a link to go to the top of the page (even if that link is not that useful for a blog that doesn’t have all that many looooong posts);

1. I’d put the Contact page last;
2. I’d avoid writing texts in ALL CAPS;
3. I’d put the Archive section in front (in a more prominent position);
4. I’d avoid having all that many banners in the footer (they add up with the banners in the sidebar, this is a problem);

The page of a given blog post

+You have both an option for printing the page and for sending the page via email; that’s nice!
1. I’d add an option for comments, it would be a welcome addition;
2. While on this page, I don’t have any option for subscribing to your blog; that’s a shame!
3. If I’m ready a blog post from a specific category, it would be nice to be able to click on that category and see other posts that share the category; in your case, I can only view the category a blog post is in, and I can’t click on that category;

____
Bottom line: University of Bucharest’s Media blog is a well round-up blog, with lots of useful features and great content. A very nice online presence!

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.

2 Comments

  • Sergiu

    22 July 2010 - 14:02

    Thank you, there’s one thing you should be aware of: the purpose of this website was not to be a blog, it was meant to mimic the feel of a news portal. However, the fact that our niche is not that expanded (being limited to events taking place in the University of Bucharest only) prevents us from expanding it even more. We’re stuck between a news portal and… a blog, if you want. :)

    There are some suggestions which will be taken into consideration, overall it was a nice review, thank you!

  • Olivian BREDA

    22 July 2010 - 14:36

    You’re very welcome, Sergiu, I’m glad you like it.

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