by Robert Rickover
Thank you, Richard Brennan, for allowing us to assess your website and to post our assessment on the web. We will be completely honest in our evaluation so that it can be useful both to you and to other Alexander Technique teachers. We will be using Imogen’s 11-point website tips as a general framework. Any additional comments from Imogen are included in green italics.
Richard’s site does have the phrase “Alexander Technique” and “Ireland” at the top of each page – but determining the city in which he’s located requires a little digging. I would suggest adding changing “Ireland” to “Galway, Ireland” on the header
Imogen: Well, Galway is included in the very first sentence of the site, so I actually don’t think it’s very important, and it would be a shame to disturb the nice balance of the header logo. If Richard does want to add Galway more prominently to the home page, he could use the sidebar perhaps.
To me, the “About the Centre” tab seems quite easy to find, and gives all the information. I would be sure to include Galway in the meta tags in the site’s coding though, although even this may not make any significant different – I looked up “Alexander Technique Galway” on Google and Bing and www.alexander.ie was the first site to come up in both instances! That’s fantastic! (It also comes top in a search for “Alexander Technique Ireland.”)
Richard’s Contact page is part of a drop-down menu for “About the Centre.” I think it deserves its own button, preferably at the far right on the menu bar. It is not be obvious how to find the Contact page as the site is now configured. The Contact page itself is simple and easy to use with both an email link, phone number and address.
Actually, the “About the Centre” button is really mostly contact information, nearby accommodations etc. – not information about the centre itself. So I would just replace it with a title like “Contact Information” since, really, the site itself is largely about the Centre.
Imogen: Good Idea!
Richard’s writing is clear and largely free of Alexander Technique jargon.
Richard has a nice variety of photos which are appropriate to the particular page they’re on. There are some of him teaching (no skeletons or strangulation shots!) and several nice ones of FM on his page about the history of the Technique.
5. Overall simplicity
Richard’s site covers a lot of material – a good deal more than most Alexander Technique teachers’ sites – because he has so much going on: books and several other items for sale, a training course, and various special events. Nonetheless, the site is easy to navigate (more at #7 below) and very nicely organized.
Richard’s “Introduction to the Alexander Technique for the Medical Profession” (a drop-down menu item under “About the Technique” ) is a unique and excellent AT resource.
I do think his training course page should be brought more to the fore – at present it’s at the bottom of the drop-down menu under “Learning the Technique.” I suggest making it a link on the main link toolbar.
I do question the usefulness of the “Introductory Slideshow” located in the “About the Technique” drop-down menu. It doesn’t seem to add any new information and changes slides quite slowly. I’d suggest either eliminating it or putting it at the bottom of the drop-down menu.
Imogen: I don’t have a problem with the slideshow, and I just clicked through at my own speed. In that sense it would be a quick way for people to gather information rather than going through the whole site…
Most of Richard’s pages are short and to the point and where there is greater length, it’s “deeper” into the site where that length is appropriate.
7. Ease of Navigation
With the exception of the Contact information discussed in #2, Richard’s site is very easy to navigate using the menu bar near the top of each page.
8. Key words and phrases
On the site itself, there are plenty – except for the “Galway” issue raised in #1.
However, on the site’s source page (the page Google actually sees) “Galway” is nowhere to be found in the “description” or among the “key words.” I strongly suggest tightening up the “description” with an understanding that Google will use part of all of that on its display or search results. And I would shorten the number of “key words” to about 5 – Google doesn’t like more than that. I would put “Galway” in the description and make it a key word as well.
Imogen: Good advice, although as I mentioned in my comment in #1, the site is doing very well in Google and other search engines. It would be optimal to tighten this up though, as Robert suggests.
9. Use of Links
Richard has a nice collection of well-presented links – most of which are Alexander Technique related. At present, they can be found on the drop-down menu of “About the Technique” and I suggest they be moved to their own heading on the links toolbar since some are not AT-related. This would be particularly useful if Richard wants to encourage more non-AT links to his site – always a good idea.
Imogen: Richard also makes very good use of internal (and a few external) links on the pages of the site – all connected with key words like “backache” or “stress” – very useful for people seeking more information AND as a strategy for getting these keywords noticed by the search engines.
10. Something Free
Richard does have an email list which he uses to provide newsletters about courses, events and special offers. Given all the useful information on his site (including audio and video) I don’t really see a need for giving anything more away for free.
Imogen: Complete agree!
Richard has a whole page devoted to audio and video resources.
12 Smart Phone Version
Richard’s site does not have a smart phone version and over time this will become a serious limitation as a greater proportion of web searches are being done with smart phones and other hand-held devices. Given the amount of material on the site, creating one could prove to be a real challenge. As far as I know, the only way to do it in a comprehensive way would be to switch it over from an html site to a WordPress site, or something similar, for which a smart phone version can easily and quickly be created using a free plug in. Another alternative would be to create a stripped-down sister WordPress site and set up automatic forwarding to that site for smart phone users, something that’s very easy to do. Imogen will undoubtedly have some thoughts on this.
Imogen: That would likely be the most cost effective way to go!
Overall, Richard’s website does an excellent job of presenting a lot of very well produced material in a clear, orderly manner. All of my suggestions (other than the smart phone suggestions) are really nothing more than tweaking the presentation of internal links and the site’s source page. It’s a pleasure to end our series of 8 public website assessments with Richard’s website!
Imogen: I absolutely agree! This is really an excellent, efficient and very effective site!
Many thanks for the assessment and your kind comments and ideas about how to improve the website. They are all very helpful!