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Sites for sore eyes (Part 3) // Another look at the presence of F1 driver's on the web

Published by Christine Blachford

This is part three of our driver websites review, looking at the good, the bad and the pointless. Check out the first two parts here, and here, and then we can get started with the next five. As ever, I’m approaching it from the fan viewpoint, checking on navigation and content, whilst the geeky one posts his usability and technical thoughts in italics.

Jarno Trulli

Jarno's site

The homepage isn’t exactly pretty, but there’s nothing overtly horrible about it either. There are some good photos on the site, and the Toyota video feature is there as well. There’s also information about the kart that he has helped developed – which I knew nothing about! I do like that the background image is selected at random on each load.

Wow, that really is some awful music Jarno's playing there. The audio is doubly annoying on this site because it crushes any video you try and watch. It's easy to turn off, but who thought it was a good idea in the first place?

The rest of the site is okay, despite being flash only. The news section appears to be just a long list of Toyota press releases and there are far too many colours present on the homepage, giving the place a claustrophobic feel. The videos on the media page are unfeasibly small too, surrounded as they are by so much blank space.

Timo Glock

Timo's site

Now, I instantly dislike this page because it’s yellow, and yellow tends to hurt my eyes. However, I persevered for the sake of the exercise, but I didn’t really get very far. It seems like everything there is to look at is on the homepage already, so one glance and you’re done.

Timo's another driver who's opted to piggy back on a commercial site, forsaking his own domain name in the process.

This site takes forever to load and it's not just the homepage either. Clicking a link brings up an animated timer which serves no purpose other than to annoy. At the same time the page layout flips around like some sort of demonised rubik's cube, before proceeding to display the same information, only in a slightly different order.

Sébastien Bourdais

Sébastien's site

The site is really simple and easy to navigate which makes a refreshing change! It’s also got plenty of pictures and info – I like the brooding one on the home page (that may just be me, though). There’s a forum that’s in French but seems to have plenty going on. Really, any site that has a heading called Goodies is fine by me.

Possibly the best welcome of any site so far. The opening video requires flash, but it's perfectly possible to get where you're going without it. I like that the branding is in keeping with Toro Rosso's livery, but isn't flamboyant or excessive in any area.

This is the cleanest looking website I've seen in a long while. Absolutely devoid of any clutter, whilst links to Google Maps of each circuit are a welcome addition. News still is lacking the personal touch though, as it's yet more press release material.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian's site

The English page is currently under construction, which is fair enough, except I couldn’t get back to the German page once I’d gone there.

Nothing says "Welcome" like a gigantic red cross and the word error painted across your screen in bold type does it? Makes you wonder why the there's a link to an English version of the site at all?

Life on Seb's site gets more confusing if you look at the German version, because the entire of the news section is written in English. The remainder of the pages are fine in terms of layout and content, but I do wonder if the central band of animated photography wouldn't have been better served as static images, and I can't shake the feeling as I'm browsing that the whole design is just waiting to be re-branded with the Red Bull logo.

Jenson Button

Jenson's site

The site is very pretty, but to be honest, I spent a lot of time rolling over things going: "Ooh, that moves as well!" without actually looking at what was there. I think it’s one of those sites that while it has some good information underneath, the abundance of Flash makes it hard to find everything. The helmet competition is fun... oh wait, we did that already.

Your name's not on the list, you're not coming in. Jens has a flash only site and without it you're left looking at a plain white screen. Once over this obstacle though the site is well laid out and easy to navigate. I especially like the stats window that pulls out from the right-hand side. While I was watching three other users were also viewing the site, although the distance didn't appear to update in the way it suggested it should, maybe it's broken at the moment?

I get the impression Jenson actually cares about this site. The fan pictures section is a nice addition and Button has by far the best videos of any driver we've looked at so far. If you include his audio diaries, I suspect this benchmark will take some beating. I like that the Trackside section represents such a detailed look at circuits too.

If I have one criticism, it's that the convoluted transitions take far to long to execute, I was willing them to be over sooner. Not for the first time I'm torn with the rating of this site, I love what's inside, but getting there is too inaccessible.

Three quarters of the way through now. We've trawled through the highs and lows of the internet so far, and there's still plenty more to come. Join us for part four where we look at the last five driver sites.

All content in the series Website Reviews 2008

  • Trulli- homepage looks like a generic F1 site, can’t think of a single reason to visit again

    Glock- slower than Ricardo Rosset, Rubic’s thing is just weird, I wonder if Timo has seen this site

    Bourdais- This is how driver’s sites should be, it seems to have been written in French then translated which makes the language seem odd at times, I didn’t know each GP had its own site, another category to review?

    Vettel- should speak to whoever designed his team mate’s site

    Button- helmet designer(again), nice clean design, allows fans to upload pics, the main pic of him looks like a kid asking his mother if he needs to stand there

  • I didn’t know each GP had its own site, another category to review?

    good grief :)

    team's site review coming monday(ish), lord knows when we'll fit that idea in though.

    i suspect singapore will fare badly!

  • team’s site review coming monday(ish), lord knows when we’ll fit that idea in though.

    wow! you two have been soo busy! :D

    I was just wandering can we expect a sunday show today? or will it be midweek? ;)

  • I was just wandering can we expect a sunday show today? or will it be midweek?

    We are anticipating a Sunday show but we're also struggling with the curse of the noisy neighbour, so it's wait and see at the moment.

  • Trulli- first thing you need to know is that the horrible "musik" can be switched off - top bar menu right hand side (does not say whether it is on or off which I disliked). Now we have some quiet, the site is not exactly Italian designer chicness, but is serviceable with clear navigation, plenty of information, nice photo and a rich video sections. This seems to be Flash only and surprisingly only in English. I could consider coming back, so not a bad site so gets 7/10.

    Glock- reading others I was expecting it to be slow, it wasn't to the contrary it was very fast. Could not find an "English" version. Like Christine, I find yellow is not such a mellow colour when it comes to web design and especially if it is the writing and the background is white! Not a pretty site either, especially when you click and the site wants to re-arrange all the blocks of information so a photo on the left hand sides moves across to the right hand side! I can't use the expression on family site but it has the same starting letter as family! I used the same word again as it was too easy to navigate out of the site and into the host site ala Heidfeld's portal! I guess this has something to do with the way Germans do things! What I thought was going to be a video gallery proved to be only an image gallery which was reasonable. This is because it has a unique navigation of a yellow box on a thin grey line which you move across to get to different bits of information - weird. There is actually a video that would not challenge your band width but your eye site - it is literally postage-sized. Basically I found the site an illogical mess (the site map confirms it to be much less complicated that it actually seems when trying to navigate) so it gets 3/10.

    Bourdais- Visually one of the neatest designs and in two languages - good use of colour with an attractive layout (possibly the best layout of any F1 driver site). Information is well laid out and very readable. Good image gallery and forum (where it seems to be all French). You can download some screen savers and wallpapers from the goodies section. Many drivers have their own logo - I liked Bourdais' the best by far. I would like to know a little more about leSeb but it gets 8/10 from me.

    Vettel- When launching your are optimistic, since it says welcome in English, French and German, but I am afraid the hospitality ends unless you are German speaking because the English version gives you a big Red Cross and the word ERROR in huge CAPITAL letters - it is as if it accused you of some illegal activity. So using the German site, if you like reading copious German text in Font size 4 in a light shade of grey on a white back ground - its a site for you, most people will not bother to read it. Definitely a site to give you sore eyes. Lots of problems with text getting to close to edges (not heard of cell padding?) and things not properly lined up. An extremely unprofessional site and the developer should be fired! I am feeling generous so I will give it 1/10.

    Button- I have already said elsewhere on Sidepodcast I like this site, it is as if Jenson is personally welcoming you. Despite my dislike of flash - this is one very competent site - the more your explore the better it gets (like you can upload your photos, you can ask Jenson questions like does he have a pet? etc ... yes there are answers to these selective questions). It is a very friendly site with lots of videos and this is where my one criticism lies - you cannot control the video so you need good bandwidth to watch them. 9/10 (but suspect it is a high maintenance site)

  • lord knows when we’ll fit that idea in though.

    i suspect singapore will fare badly!

    I have an idea why not put up a list of al the race track's website (with links) and ask us the "Sidepodcast community" to book a race track and we send our review to you and you compile this as a posting!

  • Rich, that is a brilliant idea! We will have to do that v. soon, and you can have first dibs :)

  • you can have first dibs :)

    I will book Australia - closest place to home (culturally at least)

  • Rich,

    I am surprised you found the Glock site was fast. Almost regardless of what I clicked I got a little timer pop up for about 5 to 8 seconds before anything happened. It was a bit like when I used to have a dial up connection and everything took ages to load.

  • I am surprised you found the Glock site was fast.

    I have checked it again - at the moment I have good bandwidth and confirm it is fast (so is Jenson's) - now Kimi's yikes that is slow for me, there is something that our proxy server and/or firewall is not liking about the site and basically it is not usable like 20 secs for each mouse click.

  • While I was watching three other users were also viewing the site, although the distance didn’t appear to update

    I liked this feature and the distance worked for me. A very personal site - like the Video of Jenson showing off his little Red Honda sports car!

  • I tried the Glock site again and it was a lot faster.

  • Almost regardless of what I clicked I got a little timer pop up for about 5 to 8 seconds before anything happened.

    same here.

    Kimi’s yikes that is slow for me

    odd, that's the fastest site of them all.

  • Most of Trulli's site doesn't load on my computer, and however pretty the background is, it doesn't help me find out about Jarno very much on its own...

    Glock's site loaded, but I couldn't find an option to have it in anything other than German. My command of that language is insufficient to gauge the quality of the site.

    Bourdais' loaded and was pleasant to use. It is one of the few driver sites I would consider re-visiting.

    About half of Vettel's site loads (with no obvious distinction between the bits that work and the bits that don't), but again, a lack of German-speaking ability on my part precluded further analysis of the site quality.

    Button's loads, if rather slowly, but apart from the designer there was nothing that made me want to come back the way Bourdais' site made me want to return. Still, the Button brigade clearly tried to make it interesting - it just happens to be aiming at people who use the internet in a somewhat different way.

    As far as my computer was concerned, this lot were almost as bad as the first batch of five. If I ever get bored of being a librarian, I can see me having steady employment as an F1 site tester...

  • Glock’s site loaded, but I couldn’t find an option to have it in anything other than German

    Funny I did not have that problem - it was just that the site kept changing its layout like Rubik's cube!

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