I can’t claim to be a website designer. I can only guess at the ins and outs of why certain layouts, colors, and styles are used for certain sites. I’m willing to bet that The Sword Review isn’t aiming their design at a vision-impaired woman who is pushing 50. Sadly, most sites aren’t!
I find light or white text on a dark background difficult to read. It’s very rare that I’ll go back to a blog that is white on black unless the content is absolutely outstanding. In order to read it at all, I need to magnify it (love this feature of Mozilla Firefox, by the way!) enough that the text gains some substance of its own. Some sites simply aren’t worth the extra trouble, and occasionally the magnification doesn’t work for whatever reason. My plea to web-page and blog designers is: just because you CAN do white on black doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Some young people have poor vision, too. You can’t count on the colors only keeping out *old* people.
Okay, so The Sword Review isn’t white on black. It’s beige on brown. It’s hard to read AND drab. There’s so much information on the opening page that I don’t know where to look first, and there don’t seem to be a lot of hints as to what they consider priority items for me to look at. The feel of the page–the mood, if you will–does little to demonstrate the unique atmosphere that fantasy and science fiction can generate: that spark of imagination that sucks us into another world, another time, another place. Add to that the fact that I discovered several typos on the main pages, and I felt the professionalism of the site could be improved.
Now I’m no web designer, as I mentioned above. I like to play with photos and colors on this blog, and I really like to play with colors and styles in my home and to assist clients doing the same. (In Real Life, I’m a flooring consultant with a diploma in interior decorating.) So I do know a bit about what works and doesn’t, design-wise, though I don’t have the tools or the specific design tricks that are part of website building.
But I know people who can’t resist building mock-ups. If you’re interested in seeing a detailed review of the the site’s layout–with suggestions–check out Hanna’s blog.