I chose to take a look at Marvel’s official web presence for this project. If there was a prototypical image dependant format, I assumed this would be it. The images chosen for display set the stage for the vast span of hero brands across the Marvel “Universe.’ The banner images segregated themes, and drew primary attention to the most recent of the franchise projects.
Despite the image intensity of the home page, the content data size seemed highly optimized. The largest images -the banners- weighed in at around 250-280KB. The second largest -main images- were all right around the 100KB mark. The greatest majority of the images hovered around the 25KB mark.
There were a total of 74 images: (42jpeg, 28png, 4 gif) for a combine total of 2199.31KB (approx. 2.2MB.) This is an average of 29.72KB per image. I felt this was commendable considering the typical starting file sizes of most images.
With images disabled, despite the expectedly bland appearance, the page continued to be navigable. The pages suffered a palpable lost of interest and felt disconnected without logical visual cues to direct focus. Navigating the site became less intuitive, and harder to skim for information on where to go. It was immediately apparent that imagery and consumerism are highly connected as none of the pages suffered worse from this developer setting then the “Shop’ page. Without the pictures I had nearly no idea what I was setting up to buy.
My general take on the effectiveness and use of images is fair. I was impressed with the optimization of image size: expecting a higher data dent from a graphic intense interface. However I believe the use and placement of these images could be more efficient and less incongruent. I feel unworthy to critique an industry leading entity like Marvel; however the execution of the page honestly felt conflicted.
The banners reflect the brand fracturing which Marvel is currently engaged in: splitting time between movies, comics, made for TV series, news on what else Marvel is doing, etc. The placements of these themes seem to reflect no company philosophy or image, but rather an unintentional chaos of current release dates and next opportunities to buy/watch/engage. There is little introduction to these projects, or Marvel its self, should you not know what they are already, The various sections make the users experience unfocused.
It feels a bit like getting smacked in the face with everything up front, with little incentive to connect with any particular point. You get the feeling you’re stepping into someone’s club. Are you invited, or should you leave before they catch you here? Summed up, the layout is over stimulating without sufficient user captivation or invitation.
There was just a little of the “comic flavor’ heritage visible in the creative expression, but the identity felt split between Marvels heritage, and its Hollywood pursuits. The theme I felt could be better integrated so they don’t appear to conflict. This is just a personal opinion however.
My conclusion is the site has good developers, and is at a minimum standard for what I would expect from a large franchise. However overall I was disappointed. I expected to travel to an awesome world of fiction, to the home of childhood hero’s and rarely disputed champions of the comic world. Which to be honest felt contrastingly unimaginative and commercialized.
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Excellent write up, Joel. Your site selection of an organization with such visually dependent content is very interesting. You’re right that they’ve done a great job optimizing their images, while still ensuring that those images are attention-getting. They don’t “appear” to be sacrificing any visual quality for such a level of optimization – exactly what a web developer is looking to achieve.
You shouldn’t feel unworthy to critique a professional website. We are all viewers and users of websites and therefore form our own opinions of sites based on our experiences using them. Your opinions of this site are informed by your experience using it and having a discussion about what works and what doesn’t work for you is constructive.
I agree that the home page of the Marvel site feels very fractured – to me it feels more frenetic. Because Marvel is a brand that is producing comics, movies, TV shows, and toys, presenting their image as something that embraces all of these efforts in a cohesive way is likely one of the biggest challenges for them. It is something that can quickly feel overwhelming. One thing they did that I appreciate is that the primary site navigation gives visitors quick access to comic, or movie, or TV galaxies of the Marvel universe easily.
As for those coming to the site who are uninitiated (again you are right), there isn’t much of an orientation for them. Maybe they are expected to jump in feet first. When it comes to Marvel, though, consuming such a large elephant may be more effective in smaller bites. I wonder if that is a conversation the site developers had and how it may have evolved.
Thanks for the feedback. I agree, it is likely difficult to determine a course with a complicated model like marvel. I’m sure just having so many people working on the project comes with it’s own challenges and opportunities regarding its presentation.
I will link the texts from now on, I’m new to WordPress and am used to blogs auto-linking URL’s. I noticed it wasn’t and it took me a couple posts to figure it out.