Valio.fi – anna elämän maistua.

Continuing my series of (re-)design reviews (Tampere United, Nokia Sports Tracker), I’ll present Valio.fi (a finnish company “that secures milk production in Finland and the vitality of the nation’s countryside by processing milk into tasty products that promote well-being”, source), which published their redesigned pages some time ago.

Home - Valio.fi's front page

Home - Valio.fi's front page

Above is a screenshot of Valio.fi, front page (in english).

The english version of finnish site is somehow empty, so I’ll use the finnish side instead (sorry!).

I’ll review the site shortly on three two aspects (as I’m lazy, this is my blog and the third category, usability, got me bored):

  1. Design and looks
  2. Technical side
  3. Ad Hoc usability and Information Architecture

Design and looks

In my opinion the new design looks good and fresh – as it should when advertising dairy produts;)  Compared to old design the contrast is great, or what would you say? (Screen grab using Archive.org below)

etusivu_1237120224698Especially the orange compared to new blueish theme is somehow annoying in the old version,

Flowerish logo theme is repeated at page background and images, nice!

Technical side

Platform

On technical side the site uses Oracle Portal as platform (as did the old one, too). Oracle’s platform is sturdy enterprise level publishing platform which suits high traffic sites like Valio (although according to TNS Metrix it isn’t one of the 250 Top Finnish sites).

HTML Validation

Opera Mini Simulator Test (mobile use)

  • works pretty well

Styles

  • What site at 2009 uses document specific styles (with <style> -element)? Ah, I remembered, Valio.fi.

Random

  • Page naming is awful (simple SEO, Search Engine Optimization,  anyone?)
    • example 1, front page is titled “Etusivu” (front page)
    • example 2, Tilauspiste page is simply titled “Tilauspiste”
    • would it be better if it read Valio somewhere?
      for example:
      Etusivu – Valio.fi
  • URL‘s are quite pretty, no page ID’s used, nice.
    But:

    • technical platform is visible in every URL:
      http://www.valio.fi/portal/page/portal/Valio
    • so, get rid of the /portal/page/portal/ -part and yes, better!

Conclunsions

  • Redesign looks good and sports some nifty new contents.
  • Quite good a redesign on top.
  • Technical side of the site is sturdy and working, but doesn’t validate.
  • It’s generally good idea to select a CMS (Content Managemment System) to suit one’s needs. Perhaps Oracle Portal is the best solution here.
  • URL’s are are important, too. They get printed on magazines, on milk cartons (sic!) and sides of cars.
    Try printing:

    • www.valio.fi/keittokirja in stead of
    • http://www.valio.fi/portal/page/portal/Valio/Keittokirja
    • See any difference?



Pretty URLs (or Aamulehti redesign)

My almost weekly series of (failed or bad) finnish redesigns continues. This time my local newspaper, Aamulehti, decided to jump in the social train, big time.

Social software and Web 2.0, yeah, great things. But – should be applied carefully!

First things first, I use Firefox as my browser. I also have the marvellous adblock -plugin installed and basically all the finnish ad servers blocked.

Anyway, pretty URLs¨(Uniform Resource Locators). What does it actually mean? URL is “in normal” use the address for certain web page. (I’ll use URI, Uniform Resource Identifier, in this posting as almost the same as URL). For example URL for this page is:
http://ilkka.kaikuvuo.com/2008/06/pretty-urls-or…lehti-redesignpretty-urls-or-aamulehti-redesign/
, where http is the used protocol, kaikuvuo.com is the domain name and stuff after it represents the structure of the site (used to be folder structure, nowadays is something completely different).

Anyway, pretty URLs? Human readable URLs?

The above example is pretty clear, domain is ilkka.kaikuvuo.com, then comes the year, month and the title of this posting. Pretty pretty? (Also nice for search engines!)

Sidenote: do read the “Cool URIs don’t change!

Ok, back to Aamulehti.

Why do I think the redesign sucks?

  • URIs are not that pretty. For example the front page’s address (cool URI is http://www.aamulehti.fi) is:
    http://www.aamulehti.fi/cs/Satellite?pagename=KAL_newssite/GoToHomepage
  • Front page is full of ads (except that it isn’t, thanks to Adblock) or empty space (using Adblock)
  • Site is very, very heavy with all the AJAX goodness
  • Lue lisää (Read more) -links used heavily on every page – WTF? Basic thing: don’t use phrases such as “read more” in links. Is bad for screen readers, is bad for search engines is bad for (list continues)
  • News on the front page are cropped automatically, which results in awkward sentences and so on.
  • Redesign caused the pages to crash (hey yeah, lot of requests? Get used to it!) for hours.

Bah. I don’t seem to have the energy to rant anymore, I give up. (Could go on and on about the blogs and everything).

There are some good and nifty features too, at Aamulehti.fi. But as the Site is down, no report on them. Perhaps later.

More redesigns that suck:www. hel.fi (the city of Helsinki) reports as follows:

15.06.08 Hel.fi pages were transferred on a new technical platform

The City of Helsinki web pages www.hel.fi were transferred on a new technical platform during week 25. All the URL addresses of the pages changed.

Did I say something about cool URIs earlier?

Could someone please, please, give me a great redesign? A finnish one?

Please?

Pretty please?

(Small editorial comment: I’ll add some screen grabs if the site works for an hour or two in a row…)