My thoughts on the Keo Re-Design is the most visited South African rugby mad blog with a cosmopolitan readership spanning the globe. Winner of the 2008 SA Sports Blog of the Year award, grows from strength to strength… with one exception, it’s new design.

Recently was re-designed, and it obviously cost a fair penny, simply because this is the second re-design in the space of a couple months, completed by two web companies.

The first re-design was completed by Ince. The revamped site went live on a sub-domain and feedback was requested. Ince’s re-design, managed by Adii (a now former employee of Ince), made much better use of the web browser window, with an ajax slideshow in the header space displaying some of the main stories that week, along with some nifty sidebar modules. Many comments were posted, some positive, some negative. I liked the wire frame of the new design, but the styling needed just a little more attention.

Highbury Safika Media, the owner of the site, obviously decided the design was not suited for the site and must have pulled the plug on Ince. Then all went quiet, and a few weeks later a new design went live, created by ISO. There was no hype around the new design, I’m not sure even it got mentioned in a post. It could have, but it must have quickly got burried in a heap of Super 14 rugby news.

I’m not a fan of the new design. Why? Because it lacks usability.

It has no search facility, meaning there is no ways of finding specific posts unless you sift through the archives. However, there is no dedicated archives page, just a drop down menu in the sidebar with all the posts presented by month. I don’t know many people who navigate through archived posts month by month.

Once on a single post page, I can leave a comment, but then I have no reason to click through to another post, except by clicking on the home button and finding other summarised articles there. I’m a lazy web surfer, i’m not going to actively go look for more posts to read, I must be presented with a list of other interesting posts to read in the sidebar or below he post.

Keo Post Body

The styling of the body content could do with some work. The large chunks of post content could be seperated with nicely styled blockquotes, and sub-headers, easily achievable with a bit of css code.

I want to know what the most popular posts have been in the past few months, and which articles have been commented on the most. Engage me in the conversations happening on the site. Don’t litter valuable sidebar area with advertisements alone, encourage click throughs deeper into the site.

Valuable header space is wasted with a big yellow strip across the page. Header links take you to pages with no content, and the “Register” page takes me to the default wordpress registration page. It doesn’t give me information on what I shall gain should i register with

Keo Header

The footer space is nicely designed with great sketches of the writers of, but they serve no purpose. Why not use some simple wordpress code and link each writer’s sketch to posts by that author specifically?

Keo Footer

I know this post will probably come across a bit negative, don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the site, and I write this because I want it to succeed. This post is meant to be taken constructively. I realise a huge percentage of the site visitors are rugby mad basic web users who would completely overlook any of the functionality I would like implemented, but I am confident would see a huge increase in click throughs and a longer time spent on the site by the average user should they implement some simple new functionality, easily achievable in wordpress.


12 responses

  1. Mark you should definitely blog more, great post. I must say Keo’s new design looks like it was done by a bunch of amateurs. I would have liked to see Ince’s mockup before it got canned though – Adii hook us up ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Nice crit Mark. Overall I like design, but like you said, it’s a little lacking in some areas.

    O, a small thing that really drives me nuts is the way the characters shoulder in the header is cut off – grrrrr.

  3. Hi Mark

    Agree with others here, nicely written crit. I actually like the way the main articles are presented though, nice and plain and a lot fit on the page. (I like simple) I would like to see super 14 table on the right moved to the top because its off the screen on my laptop and the table is something that I would repeatedly go to the site for.

    As I respect your design opinion I would love to hear your crit of muti sometine ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. It would be a safe suggestion that Adii’s design got canned because it was way too database intensive.

    Of the current design – the background could do with a bit of softening…maybe a #222 would be better than a straight black.

    Their Ad placement could do with some work…but in reality it gets blocked so its not that much of an issue.

  5. I’d love to show you guys the layout again… But I “cleansed” myself of the whole situation and I’d rather stay away from commenting. Suffice to say that the new design seems to have been built on my original code (for the version that I did). Anyway… ๐Ÿ™‚

    Nice write-up Mark… Should definitely blog more!

  6. Very good points Mark, its great to get critical feed back from the web design community. I’m a developer and not a designer so I accept your criticism as constructive. Thank you. ๐Ÿ™‚

    A little background on the site:

    The redesign was pushed by an unstable WordPress that was chomping at resources.

    I was amazed to watch how a healthy looking duel core server with 4 gigs of memory would simply fade away when more than 30 connections came in. Adii’s design was good, but resource hungry. The new design on top of a shaky WordPress proved to much for the web server and later the webmaster.

    Pinpointing the problem was hard. The server was over optimised and under performing. The old theme had grown and been edited until it was unmanageable.

    As the new theme was going live we found the “memory monster” in the database. The site is now running lean on 12mb/process (was 64mb).

    You comments could not come at a better time, now that we have stability – we can look at the usability of the site. Thanks again Mark.

    P.s. Mark, I would appreciate it if you could do a follow up on the keo site in a few weeks and give feedback?

  7. Thanks for the comments guys.

    Roy: I’m really glad you’ve found this post and impressed with your manner in responding to it. I did have a suspicision that the old theme was a bit bandwidth intensive. I’m glad you’ve got the new theme. and wordpress, running smoothly now and look forward to seeing some new usability features implemented. I’ll gladly give some more feedback in a few weeks again. Please mail me once your done and I will respond.

  8. A really nice write-up Mark and I agree with a number of your points.

    I do applaud Roy for his comment as well and I’m really impressed to see that posts like this are taken how they are meant to be taken – as constructive criticism.

  9. Raucous Avatar

    Gump you are the authority! I love it ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. Very insightful. Thanks and keep the critique coming. There is no growth without opinions that challenge the current.

    cheers, Keo

  11. When doing some constructive criticism, the critic is meant to give reasons why (s)he hates, loves or prefers ‘this-over-that’.

    I think you have done that perfectly. Well done.

    With what you’ve said Roy is able to learn a thing or two… that way we all help each up our standards as a design+dev community…

    Every designer / developer can be bettered regardless of how good one already is.

  12. Gump you are the authority! I love it ๐Ÿ˜‰

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