NTugo
This week’s design review will be a little different. NTugo isn’t just a blog, it’s a blog aggregator, showing posts from all the sites in the network. Matt, the owner, has allowed me to write a review, so here goes!

What Has Been Done Well?

  • Color. Matt has managed to find a shade or two of green that is light enough to look good on the button background, but dark enough to be legible in the main text. The green is the most memorable aspect of this design.
  • Ajax categories. Ajax has been used well in the “Recent Posts,” section. Switching from “All,” to a particular category is a smooth, fast process, and the tabbed interface clearly indicates that the buttons will act on the content below, making it a perfect way of offering the choice.
  • Drop-down menus. Some of the main navigation buttons at the top of the page contain drop-down menus. Many sites go over the top with flashy effects, animations and such. NTugo’s drop-downs are a simple, functional affair. Exactly what a user would want from them.
  • Contrast. Alone, the combination of green and white may have led to a rather bland appearance. Matt has combated this through the use of a heavily contrasting black color for the sidebar backgrounds. It isn’t overbearing, and with the heavy white font, it remains easily readable.
  • The buttons. There is a set of buttons underneath the main navigation, and although they only appear on the main page, they look great! The simple gradient background, lovely icons, and clear font make for a very usable and modern combination.

    NTugo 2

What Could Be Changed?

  • Add a slogan. Upon loading the site, you would think it is just another blog. The only indicator that this is something more than a blog is the “My NTugo” button, so the use of a slogan to clarify the site’s purpose would be well advised.
  • Define a font. The comments and sidebar all have a sans-serif font specified. However, the main text has no font, so it shows up in the browser default. The vast majority of people are seeing Times New Roman, which is just too ’90s for the rest of this design!
  • Blend the top Google advert. Unless you have found that blending the advert makes it perform worse, I would recommend matching with the rest of the sidebar, especially now that Adsense offers rounded corners. The current lack of a black background is very striking, and feels almost as if there is a hole in the sidebar.

All in all, NTugo has a solid, functional design. With just a few little touch-ups, Matt could turn a very usable design, into a very attractive one as well.

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