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  1. #1
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    VPS.NET: The new site has LAUNCHED!

    Hey everyone,

    We've been working hard with Mark Boulton Design to create a website that is able to convey a matured Cloud VPS product line. After almost 6 months, we have something we're quite proud of - we're hoping to revolutionize the market again. As a note, the new website is powered completely by Drupal 7.

    www.vps.net

  2. #2
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    Interesting look and definitely different from the previous design.

    There are some kinks to work out, however. I'm all for CSS3, but if it doesn't play nicely in all browsers, it doesn't work for me. For example, the buttons are a bit screwy in anything besides Firefox.

    Chrome: http://i55.tinypic.com/2z8dmko.png
    IE and more/less Opera: http://i53.tinypic.com/2ln7882.png

    Also some additional rendering issues with Opera:

    http://i56.tinypic.com/2m6adqr.png
    http://i56.tinypic.com/aka160.png
    http://i53.tinypic.com/167t99t.png

    Few other things:

    1. The sign up page where CC details are asked is not secured.
    2. Clicking the sign up button for "cloud server" on the homepage leads to the sign up page, however, there's no way to edit the specs of the server. It's by default set very high at $90/mo.

    I'm also not a fan of how there are 2 sign up buttons on the 'cloud servers' page, 1 for daily, 1 for monthly. There are more elegant ways to accomplish that, instead of 2 call-to-actions.

    Overall, I think it's a unique concept and definitely pushes the boundaries of modern web design/technology, as expected from Mark. There are some areas to polish but nice work overall.

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the feedback. We'll get those worked out!

  4. #4
    Dear Terry,

    Where is the forum and image instructions? Nice Web Site for a small company's not for VPS.net am sorry on this. Also have you take to accounts the "Web Usability"?

    Regards,
    Alex

  5. #5
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    Not guna lie.. I liked the old site better. ...and 6 months? I could have rebuilt your NOC backend in 6 months.

    As the guy above me said.. I'd expect a design like this to come out of a small new VPS company. Not VPS.net
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  6. #6
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    I have mixed feelings about the redesign, though my impression was immediately put off by viewing it in Opera first (and as you know, it's horribly broken in Opera - it's unreadable).

    The concept is a nice one in theory. I think it would play out a bit better if the graphic in the background didn't feel post-apocalyptic. Buildings are leaning over like they've just been bombed, and this makes the lighter haze feel like nuclear smog.

    It's all very nicely designed - the graphic work is quite good! It just seems like some very nicely rendered graphic work is making the wrong impression, at least on me.

    The code seems to be a bit clunky, though this may be a product of using Drupal - I'm not familiar enough with how it presents data to know how much it influences a page's overall code. But things like empty clearing divs speak volumes about the quality of the code work (didn't we stop using those five years ago?). Another indication is the wasteful misuse of top-level headings. Not only is there a huge wasted SEO opportunity here, but the purpose of an H1 heading is to describe the contents of a specific page at the highest level, which would be "cloud hosting," "cloud servers," etc., not "VPS.net". It's semantically confusing. Someone browsing the site with a screen reader wouldn't know they were on different pages. Not that you should anticipate this will be a large percentage of your audience, but it's still a wasted opportunity, which brings more scrutiny to site code.

    I couldn't help but notice the Cloud Server page gives daily cost values in GBP and monthly cost values in USD. That's a bit confusing. Maybe a typo?

    You should really check your foreground/background colors for proper contrast, mostly notably the blue and black - http://snook.ca/technical/colour_contrast/colour.html - they fail pretty badly, and with roughly 10-15% of the population having some sort of visual impairment (particularly different forms of colorblindness), this is going to be a real issue for a substantial number of people. I had to squint and strain to see the bottom-left links, and my eyesight is 20/20 with contacts (which I'm wearing).

    The general design direction is definitely a good one. The theme is solid and the contrast between the background and foreground is nicely executed. This reminds me a lot of www.blitzagency.com ...a lot! In fact, if you told me Blitz Agency's site was used for inspiration during the design process, I would not be the least bit surprised. It's not a copy, it definitely fits into that camp.

    The coding work, particularly when it comes to cross-browser compatibility and accessibility, sorry to say, is amateur work. But again, I can't say how much of that is the fault of Drupal and how much is in the hands of your designers. The important thing is whether the coding negatively impacts people's ability to use the site. In some cases the answer is no, and in some cases as mentioned above, the answer is definitely. All this should have been tested before the site went live, but at least most of it can be fixed pretty easily.

    The jury is out for me if this is a step forward, but with a little more work, at least it won't be a step back!

  7. #7
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    Nice detailed review the_pm. I couldn't have said it better myself. The site literally lags a bit when viewing on Chrome, OS X. I've never had that happen before for any other site.
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  8. #8
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    @the_pm, as always, great insight.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Encrypted View Post
    Nice detailed review the_pm. I couldn't have said it better myself. The site literally lags a bit when viewing on Chrome, OS X. I've never had that happen before for any other site.
    That's probably the fonts downloading, since you have to create multiple font files for different browsers in order to display non-Websafe fonts.

    We have a client who wanted Futura for main content font, and even with a tightly optimized font package, it still causes considerable lag (up to five extra seconds on initial page load). He decided it was worthwhile - that's just a decision to make.

    Since it appears the extra fonts are just for "Hosting For The Future," I would render that as a transparent PNG instead of using @font-face for it. It's not critical enough text to warrant the lag associated with downloading font libraries. It'll speed up the site this way (the PNG should be relatively small). If this was critical search engine text or actual page headings, that might be another matter. But for page taglines, it's not worth the lag.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by expandmind View Post
    Dear Terry,

    Where is the forum and image instructions? Nice Web Site for a small company's not for VPS.net am sorry on this. Also have you take to accounts the "Web Usability"?

    Regards,
    Alex
    Something we're really striving for with the new site is to develop a STRONG community with our users. Not only where people come to chit-chat with us, but to almost launch a marketplace of VPS.NET users. The forum is going to be a strong part of that, and as a result, we're going to be changing it up a bit. The forum is being moved to inside the control panel, where it'll have instant activation. The image instructions are inside the control panel as well. We will however be dramatically improving on the documentation offered to our users.

    Not guna lie.. I liked the old site better. ...and 6 months? I could have rebuilt your NOC backend in 6 months.

    As the guy above me said.. I'd expect a design like this to come out of a small new VPS company. Not VPS.net
    Thanks for the feedback. There are a lot of parts to the design which haven't launched yet, which includes the control panel. The old site was obviously very clean, and cutting edge for it's time. We've since grown as a company, and needed to represent the larger product line up that we now have, while also staying true to our focus - cutting edge, cloud hosting. I think the site conveys that very well.

    Paul, thanks for the critical feedback. We'll get many of the bugs you mentioned worked out, and we'll keep hammering away at the site until we get it to where it needs to be.
    Last edited by IGobyTerry; 03-01-2011 at 01:59 PM.

  11. #11
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    Echoing what Terry said - the project is not done..actually it was launched for this exact purpose, let's see what people say about it...and let's react - very much so we knew it wasn't polished.

    We think this brand offers a lot more flexibility then the robots, so much flexibility that we don't even have to get rid of the robots.

    For instance, here's an ad we're doing for DrupalCon next week:
    http://screencast.com/t/TebrlmUBlU

    We're not committed to the "nuclear" look by any means..I'd say the only thing we're committed to here is the dark feel...and the landscapes. What those landscapes are, we're open to trying different user testing.

    We've done different landscapes for future, chicago, london, etc.

  12. #12
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    The live chat tab in the bottom right hand corner is covering the "Powered by..." image, what are you powered by? I can't see in Chrome, could be ninjas or monkeys for all I know.

    Try add a little more margin to the bottom so people can see that.

  13. #13
    I absolutely love the redesign, it is really what i expected from VPS.net in turns of your former layout. Im also a fan of background vectors and themes (the spanning the globe with globe background on the cloud server page, awesome!). Very well done indeed!

  14. #14
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    Quick note: turn on the css performance caching in Drupal when you can. It's currently sending about a dozen or so separate css files slowing down the site load.

  15. #15
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  16. #16
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    Looking better on Opera now.

    Spell check!

    "realiable"

    FYI, the font import really took its toll this time - added roughly 10 seconds to the page load. I still like switching to 32bit PNGs for that text.

  17. #17
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    I actually don't like this site at all..
    simplywww: directadmin and cpanel hosting that will rock your socks
    Need some work done in a datacenter in the NYC area? NYC Remote Hands can do it.

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  18. #18
    I don't really like the new website! I prefer the old one

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by the_pm View Post
    Looking better on Opera now.

    Spell check!

    "realiable"

    FYI, the font import really took its toll this time - added roughly 10 seconds to the page load. I still like switching to 32bit PNGs for that text.
    Thanks Paul! We have a list of bugs and changes we need to make - the first was definitely the programming to improve cross browser compatibility. Just tried to fix "realible" but I don't want to break the site already. I'll let one of the pros do it.

  20. #20
    Don't like the blackish feel. Too dull and not fun. I kind of liked the robots in the earlier site with the white background and colour-full mix.

    Now it feels like we on a small raft in the middle of the ocean in the dead of night.

    I'd revert back to the old design asap.

  21. #21
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    It's so dark. Company websites generally have a white background for a good reason, it makes it look clean, professional and inviting.
    Like WindsOfChange said, when you enter the site it's like being stranded at see.

    Besides that, which I guess is partly a matter of taste, the link text is far too low contrast and looks broken in places. Pages take a long time to load, and the menu doesn't seem to load in some instances.

    Having such high constrast white plan details against the almost black background makes them look like they're floating, which lends it a disjointed feeling. The high contrast created by that also strains the eyes.

    In terms of targeting I find it odd. I'd imagine the demographic this would most appeal to being the young male/teenager. But this isn't even normal web hosting, or gaming server hosting (which to me the look matches best), it's high end enterprise hosting right? So I'd suggest the opposite, something light, clean, fresh, professional.

    As others have stated, parts of the site also look rather average/small hosting company esque, rather than that of a big player, especially the white boxes and generic icons.

    I have to agree http://replay.waybackmachine.org/201...//www.vps.net/ looks better in my opinion.

    If you address the technical/usability issues then it'll certainly be much better already, and simply using a lighter tone (it could still be dark) would fix a lot of issues in one go in my opinion.

    Anyway, I hope that wasn't too negative, it's a bold move, and hope it works out for you.

    (I like the plan sliders, quite smart)
    Last edited by Dan_HiHosting; 03-03-2011 at 07:15 PM.
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  22. #22
    What made you guys go with a darker theme instead of ligher theme? How does that emphasize professionalism? If it ain't broke, don't fix it, I really liked the old design it was eye popping.

    "Hosting for the future" A huge chunk of space being wasted by this slogan in my opinion, you can cut down on the space and still get the same affect.

  23. #23
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    "Hosting for the future" is a great theme to work with but I think the future looks too bleak in this design to be honest.

  24. #24
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    Sorry, but this design makes me want to NOT buy a VPS. I feel saddened by the homepage. I love dark designs, but only when they are executed well (mediatemple anyone?). This one is nowhere near good for me. The homepage is very empty, text is not easy to read (you don't break a line at every few words, if it's what you want to emphasize). Two paragraphs at the bottom have unmatching spacing, their heading is stretched and the body text is very squeezed, this forces the eye to change reading speed, and human brain gets confused easily by this.

    Not only the homepage too, the subpage (for example, VPS signup form) looks very disorganized and unfinished, just too much contrast and no grouping. There are text and boxes everywhere.

    In short, I'm sorry but other than the quality of the illustrator work, I wouldn't use this as my website even if it was provided me for free.

    Your old website was definitely better.

  25. #25
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    No offense but this seems like a downgrade I much prefer your old website, I wouldn't buy from your new one. Your old one looks more "Cutting Edge" than this one by far.

  26. #26
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    I think the utility of your 'Sign Up' and 'tell me more' buttons are a bit reversed on the front page. Normally, people hitting your front page don't know about your product, so hitting the nice big button under one of the topics should take you to the learn more page.

    Yes, I know I should READ the text inside that button, but I don't. Getting dumped right into a multipart form was shocking and actually put me off from exploring the site. I just bounced off.

    That's my two cent experience (somehow I didn't have this problem on your older site)

  27. #27
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  28. #28
    I quite like the concept, perhaps the city image could be made 'friendlier' though. But there is some browser weirdness for sure.

  29. #29
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    Thanks for the continued feedback guys! Here's some changes we're going to be making very soon.

    1.) The city scape in the background is changing up dramatically. It'll be less dark, and have less of a dystopia look. It'll also feature a return of the robots

    2.) The vertical space between the "hosting for the future" will be cut down. It's something we should have done before, but didn't.

    3.) We're going to start to optimize the site for speed. This'll be done a number of different ways, but if the site doesn't load in less than 2-3 seconds, we're going to be disappointed.

    As always, we appreciate the feedback!
    Last edited by IGobyTerry; 03-04-2011 at 04:11 PM.

  30. #30
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    Point 1 sounds like a good idea, will be interested to see how to looks. Do let us know when it's done.

    Point 3 - 2-3 seconds is a long time these days, so I'd aim for well below that..

    All the best with it
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  31. #31
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    Hmmmmm, no. I don't like it.

    The font of the punchline looks like it was borrowed from Terminator or Testdrive. The contrast is terrible, I don't want to have to scroll 6 feet down to see what this is all about, the 3 blocks don't tell me enough about your product, your chat thingy makes your site slow, and overall it lost originality.

    Sorry, it takes a while for me to get used to, I guess
    hi there!

  32. #32
    text overlap on cloud hosting page.
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  33. #33
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    Tomorrow we're launching version 2.1 of our website. It'll feature the improvements I listed above, along with a few others.

    Name the skyline that we'll be featuring in the background in the new re-iteration and I'll really be impressed ...

  34. #34
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    I'm punching F5 in anticipation Terry. I can't wait to see the upgrades!

  35. #35
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    Chicago? I think that's the Sears building and the Chrysler building in the background. Can't wait to see the rest of the changes, especially when it gets lightened up! That nuclear haze just kills me

  36. #36
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    Looks a lot better now. Will post some suggestions soon
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  37. #37
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    Ok, here are a few points that I think would take the design up a notch.

    1. Now that the background is lighter, the "HOSTING FOR THE FUTURE" text-shadow is too dark. Tone it down a bit (#131c27 works well)

    2. For the sake of consistency, I would advise adding a text shadow to all the text (excluding the text in the white boxes) But set it at around "0 1px 0 #XXXXXX;" so that the "HOSTING FOR THE FUTURE" text pops off the page more than the other text.

    3. The white boxes really let the design down in my opinion. They are lacking in details & contrast. I would suggest lightening up the paragraph text a bit so that it's not the same color as the heading. The buttons also look quite sub-par to me. Take a look at these images to see what I mean... Changes: http://cl.ly/2N2V3J2K2H1f310B1b3q vs. Original: http://cl.ly/272h3F0G341l082A251q

    That's all from me I haven't had a chance to look over the sub-pages properly so can't comment on those.

    Overall I do like the design though!
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  38. #38
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    Thanks for the comments -- and yes that is the Chicago skyline. I'm impressed, Paul.

    We'll continue to make changes, but they'll be fairly insignificant compared to the background change.

  39. #39
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    I miss the robots but the new design looks very good.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingofkya View Post
    I miss the robots but the new design looks very good.
    The robots on the background came back yesterday, I believe: http://awesomescreenshot.com/07e8w3r7b

    The robot never really left anyway, it's still on the favicon for me and has been ever since the new site launched

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