Ideas For Giving Feedback
So there you are, WA member, working hard on your website and enthusiastic about the whole process, and then you get the part where you are encouraged to give feedback to other members' websites, and you freeze.
"How the heck am I supposed to give feedback?" you think to yourself. "I barely know what I'm doing with my own!"
That's how I thought. I was such a beginner in everything (still am) that I just wilted the first time I was encouraged to give feedback to others in the lessons. I felt unqualified and had not a clue about what to say.
Once I was here for awhile, though, I discovered common denominators in sites that can always be looked at for the purposes of commenting. (I also use this stuff as a kind of checklist when looking over my own site pages)
So here's a couple of things you can look for in each others' sites that will give you something to help each other with.
2. Images. I'm starting off with this one because I have seen from time to time the phrase "you need images". Most new sites do, but it's important to add in your feedback that you are either not sure if they have gotten to the lesson about images yet, or perhaps they are not sure where to go for royalty-free images. It is good to mention images even if they haven't gotten to the lesson because it serves to help them retain the relevance of the lesson when they do, but do let them know you are aware they might not have got to the lesson so they don't feel lost because they are getting a comment regarding something they as yet know little or nothing about.
In websites that are more advanced, look to see if the image is too small or too large. Is it to the right of the copy? Images that are not to the right of the copy tend to "interrupt" the reading and pull attention away from what is being said. If it is to the right a person will read and then pause briefly at the image, which gives them a moment to digest what they are reading, and then they will go back to the left and continue reading. There are exceptions to this rule, but we are dealing with basics here.
3. Headlines. Headlines, or heading tags, add structure and variety to a page. Does the page you are looking at contain any? Mention it if not. Tell them, if they under- or over-use heading tags, that they are visual cues to readers that the information contained is important; it is being emphasized so the reader knows it may help them understand something in the text that will follow. The largest headlines are reserved for the most important summaries, the next size down for lesser important summaries etc., and regular type is the regular information you wish to impart.
This means that when you look at a site, check to see if the information contained in the headlines they use is important. If it isn't, and the headline is just being used to add variety to the print, let them know if there is another headline they could use that would be more apt. Give them an example of what you mean.
4. No matter what page they ask you to land on, check out the "About Me" page. About Me pages are important. They introduce the website creator to the world. Is there a picture? Is the picture too small/large? Does the page tell the reader how the author came to create the website and why, and how the author feels it will help the reader? Commenting on any of these things will give a newbie valuable feedback.
5. Check to see if comments are enabled. Comments are usually enabled by default, but sometimes in our creation of a website this can mess up and there is no place for comments in the person's pages. Knowing about it as soon as possible so it can be corrected will help new ones along.
6. Is the website theme they have chosen appropriate for their niche? Take a look. Is it too busy? Are the colors all wrong? Does the heading take up the entire first page of the home page, forcing people to scroll down just to see some content? Or is it so spectacular, with spinning pictures and musical videos, that the reader is in danger of forgetting it's a website about different types of pantyhose?
7. Other things to look for and comment on. Paragraphs shouldn't, as a general rule, be more than a few sentences long. There needs to be lots of white space around the text so the reader won't become intimidated by the amount of content and give up before they even start reading.
Bullet points help pull the reader's eye along, and if there is a list in the post or page that is merely a sentence and doesn't have bullet points beside it, you can suggest that it might be a good idea to use them.
A really, really long page or post that deals with too many sub-articles can be broken up into their own posts. It saves the article from rambling and keeps to the point of the post or page, which should be stated within the title and the first paragraph.
Captions under pictures can serve to drive home a point and will help indicate what the picture was if a reader opens in a browser that doesn't support images.
8. Wrapping up your feedback comment. Once you have given your feedback, wrap it up with a kindly, encouraging or complimentary thought or two. We all love and need commendation. No website is so full of needed improvements that there isn't something that can't be found to commend them on. You just need to look. jaweda2k gives some excellent advice about this in one of his posts. For some reason the blog editor box won't let me enter the link, but it's called "The Constructive Criticism Sandwich", and it's well worth reading.
And remember, even if you yourself don't feel personally qualified--
Your opinion is important.
Your thoughts are valuable.
Your input is always appreciated.