Critiquing Edmonton’s Winter Light website

winter light 2009 Two weeks ago, I wondered where the website was for Edmonton’s new winter festival. A few days after that post, the official website was launched. Now that I’ve had a chance to look at it, I thought I’d post a bit of a critique. But first, here’s some new information that was released at the same time:

Opening Ceremonies and the Winter Light Gala will launch the event January 8 at 10:00 AM in City Hall and Churchill Square. The Opening Ceremonies will preview highlights of Winter Light 2009 programming with outdoor performances, a "Blessing Fire", and a media launch with special guests, dignitaries and hot chocolate.

"I think winter has been one of Edmonton’s best kept secrets for too long," says event director Pamela Anthony. "Our goal is to showcase all the wonderful aspects of our winter city – the incredible recreation opportunities, the gorgeous river valley environment, and the culture and heritage of winter peoples."

I wanted to point out that quote, because it contains a lot of imagery that I’d love to see showcased on the website. Unfortunately, it’s not there at the moment. The first thing you see at the website is an annoying ten second flash intro. Totally useless, totally a waste of my time. Once you’re past that however, things start to improve.

The main page features a nice winter scene, with the city skyline, people participating in winter activities, and the catchphrase written in the style of northern lights – let it glow, let it glow, let it glow. The site is broken up into five main sections – Winter Light (about the festival), events, calendar, resources, and contacts.

Winter Light 2009 Website

Here are the things I really like about the site:

  • The integrated Google Map (available on event pages and the resources page) is great. Very quick way to see where everything is happening.
  • Using Google Calendar in place of yet another custom calendar was very smart. Well done. Makes it easy to add things to your own calendar too.
  • Consistent layout and colors.

And here are some things I’d like to see improved:

  • The RSS feed is currently empty. Make use of that! Better yet, add a proper blog to the site.
  • Get rid of the “people” banner that appears above the content on most pages. It’s unnecessary, and increases the amount of scrolling people have to do.
  • Integrate a photo sharing site like Flickr into the photos page. I’m not going to email you my photos (see my reasoning here)!
  • Add some actual resources. Showcase the river valley! Teach me about the culture and heritage of winter peoples! The website doesn’t contain any of that.
  • Update the site frequently during the months the festival is active. Change the main page to showcase the current and/or next event taking place.

For the techies reading this – the site was built using Joomla, and it appears to be hosted by Webcore Labs (a Calgary company!). Not sure if it was built in-house or by a design firm – anyone know?

I also wanted to mention that I love the Winter Light logo. It’s simple and attractive, and the two color schemes work well (white/light blue/blue for dark backgrounds, and light blue/blue/dark blue for white backgrounds). Making the word “winter” bold is a nice touch, and reinforces the idea that the event is all about celebrating the season most love to hate. Well done on the visual identity I say.

In case you’re wondering, I’m not critiquing the website just for the fun of it! I have two main goals with this post. First, I am hopeful that someone from the team will read my comments and consider making the suggested improvements. Second, I am looking for lessons that can be applied to the Halloween Edmonton website, as that festival would be very similar – an umbrella for existing events along with a few new ones.

So far, so good!

3 thoughts on “Critiquing Edmonton’s Winter Light website

  1. I’m glad they’ve changed the home page graphic. Originally, it nothing but a larger image of the woman in the bottom right…just her and her hat. It made it almost seem like it was a winter clothing website. It was not the right image.

    The current image sends the right message.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s