A Word on the Toot Competition

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Arab blog aggregator, Toot* is hosting a design competition for its community of blogs. The top winners get cool prizes such as a Canon Powershot A530 digital camera, an iPod Nano and Amazon.com gift certificates. What readers are actually supposed to be voting for, however, is kind of unclear.

Are we supposed to vote for design or for content? Upon initial glance, I would assume that we are supposed to vote for the most visually appealing and tightly designed blog. After all, it is called a "design competition" and the following quotes seem to support that direction:
Cast your votes now for the best designed blogs...
...we’re also interested in making sure that this great content is represented in a visually pleasing manner—you know, eye candy!
On the other hand, there are some Toot bloggers out there who have horrifically-designed blogs, but are still begging for votes based on content. After all, according to Toot we are supposed to...
Show the love for the blogs you love!
If we're talking about pure content, Sandmonkey would have my whole-hearted vote. But since we're talking about a contest based purely on design, I guess I'm going to have to alter my selection criteria for designs that are more "visually pleasing" (as the introduction suggests). That being the case, I would go with the following 5 blogs (in order they are displayed on the contest selection page):
  • Sabri Hakim - I have to give credit for an all-CSS design. Things are a bit crowded, however, with not enough white space (or in this case, black space) in between elements. The sidebar isn't consistently floated with the main element and the site suffers from sidebar-itis (too much crap in the sidebar). And I don't like the blinking effect when hovering over links.

  • The Black Iris of Jordan - I have to give Naseem Tarawnah credit for a well-rounded blog. It's not hard to figure out that this guy is Jordanian through and through. The CSS design elements are tight and well-designed, but the site still seems to lack color, making it appear bland at first glance. There is very little visual distinction between the main content and the sidebar, and again we witness another case of sidebar-itis.

  • Tololy's Box - I like the color scheme and creative nature of "The Box". I have to take points away, however, for a table-based design that often fractures depending on the current site content. The gradually fading JavaScript rollovers adds a certain appeal, and this is one blog that doesn't suffer from sidebar-itis. A novel design that still needs a bit of clean-up in order to really work well.

  • Bakkouz - Aside from a few odd design choices, this site could really be a contender. It’s hard to differentiate the links at the top of the page; they tend to blend in a little too well into the background. Remove the brackets and periods around each link, add a solid background, and we’re in business. I also realize that many people want to make money off of their blog, but I really hate Google Ad-Sense ads; they clutter up a page and add absolutely nothing to the design. The dancing strawberry needs to make an exit and the sidebar—as with most other blogs in this line-up—suffers from sidebar-itis. All in all, a well-designed site that needs to be tightened up just a bit.

  • This Arabic site - It’s in Arabic, so I can’t read it, so I can’t really comment on the content value. (Actually, I can read it, but it would take me all day to translate it.) The site has a stark appeal to it and the chick at the top has sexy eyes. A little plain, but well done.
And that’s the wrap. Of course, just as you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, you can’t judge a website by design alone. It takes an appealing design and tight prose in order to create a well-rounded site. I’ll have you know that I immediately ruled out any blog that used a traditional Blogger template.

* I know that Toot is supposed to be written in all lowercase letters (as in "toot"), but I don't like that, since it is difficult to differentiate it as a proper name in the common run-on sentance. And just to be a contentious butt head, I also hate the site's name. It's a slang word for "fart" in English.


Blogger bakka said...

Thank you Sir for your excellent critique,The brackets and periods around the links are long gone, and the dancing berry is my motto for my campaing heh so that'll also be over with once the contest ends, As for the Google Ads i think i'll be removing them too, its not like i'm actualy making any money off them, i've made a total sum of Zero dollars in five months so yeah they'll be history also :)

Thank you for your input and support, it is much appreciated.


6/12/2006 11:43 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Bakkouz, thank you for taking my critique so well. I think you have an excellent site.

6/12/2006 12:57 PM  

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