Image(factory) isn’t everything
In order to prove that I’m not obsessed with online shoe e-tailers, I’ve been on the lookout for other sites that are really crying out for a review…and I’ve been pointed toward Image Factory‘s site, a UK-based printing company owned by US print giant Quarto. So what follows, predictably, is…
A critique of www.imagefactoryuk.com
Perhaps naively, I thought a printworks would be chock-full of creative people who’d not let their company website look like the pavement outside an all-night takeaway. Was I right? Was I wrong? Read on and find out. I know you just can’t wait…
The basics (and getting straight to the point)
The basics are generally what you get right before doing something more complex. Walking before running, riding a pushbike before riding a motorbike, making a Pot Noodle before attempting a full roast dinner, and so on. Given this precept, at the time of writing, the Image Factory site looks like this:
…a rather sorry collection of design and HTML techniques from the year 2000 – married together with a Flash navigation that’s dated and pointless. Floating in a sea of white, the design looks lost and unhappy like a drowned manga child in The Matrix.
In terms of getting the basics right, here’s what I mean:
- The site uses a combination of tables, frames and iframes. I’ve said it time and time again before (as has most of the web design community): tables, frames and iframes are BAD. Bad for the searchability of your site, bad for accessibility, and bad because tables are for tabular data – not generic written content.
- The Flash navigation is dated and pointless. Google can have trouble following Flash navigation, and though in this case the links are simple enough that Google has indexed some parts of the site, it really isn’t accessible – nor useful at this stage. Flash for the sake of it is just as annoying as unwanted popups or the crazy frog ringtone.
- The Portfolio section – which, let’s face it, is a pretty important section if you’re a printworks that does cool stuff for a lot of major high street stores – is completely lost. It’s not got any priority over the rest of the navigation, and finding examples of their work is not only buried in a nondescript section of the site in horrible Flash navigation: it’s completely unindexed by any search engine. If you’re making awesome printed material for Coca Cola or Monsoon – shout about it! It should be on the homepage, and done in such a way that the major search engines can index it.
- I’ve gotta say it: the scrolling HTML marquee on the homepage is just terrible…
- …as is the text in graphics in the footer. Both of these are horrible no-no’s in both design and SEO terms. This is a modern printworks: at least give people this impression from your site.
- The logo should link back to the homepage. It’s a web convention for a reason.
- The News section is empty, as is the News Archive. And the Press Release section. Why are they there?! They’re taking up valuable navigation space for absolutely no reason whatsoever.
- The map of the location opens in a PDF. We have Google Maps that will do this much better.
ImageFactory: sort it out! This site could be so much more, and really support your business. I’m aware this critique has kinda descended into a site-bashing session – sorry about that. Rant over.