Phew! It’s so easy to get caught up in your own lenses; I really admire all the generous squids who manages to make lens reviews on a weekly basis!
But now let’s get back to the Tier One Challenge. To recap, these are lenses people have never gotten above tier 3 that they’re trying to get to tier one. I’m trying to review all of them. So far I’ve done just five. Eek!
Drifter’s Traditional Books vs. eBooks
Great Stuff: Alex always uses crisp CSS to make effective-looking lenses, and I love his left-side border images. His active, engaging, eloquent language pulls you into the story, which is important on a lens that has something to say instead of just something to sell or info to offer. He frames it as a debate, which helps convert casual web surfer into someone more mentally involved in the lens. And the content is just plain fascinating, varied, well-presented with a variety of ways to intereact with the lens. (It’s also one of the few Amazon Plexos I’ve felt like submitting to.)
Possible Tweak: I might move the video farther down on the page. It was in danger of distracting me from the meat and main topic of the lens. Then again, it did wake me up!
RANDOM CSS TIP: Have you ever tried putting a border around the Introduction Module or a Text module, only to have the lens logo or module graphic overlap the border? I’ve got two techniques for dealing with the problem, which I’ve seen on several Challenge lenses.
Seegreen’s Very Hungry Caterpillar lens
Great Stuff: Oh, this is a fun little lens. The video is charming, the Amazon spotlight at the very beginning shows an amazing kid’s costume, there are fun ideas and items throughout, and seegreen gives a quick, effective review of the book. This lens is like a treasure hunt, including interviews with the author and much more. I also like the selection of a good Seuss book for those who have come to the lens and already OWN the book the lens is about.
Tweaks: Hard to find any suggestions here! Shoot. In fact, I’ve looked up and down several times and the more I look, the more I see that’s right, from good lensroll recommendations to unobtrusive repetition of the keywords “Very Hungry Caterpillar” and “Eric Carle.” At this point I’d be looking for ways to promote the lens and get the word out. Learn from this lens!
Wishfulthinking777’s The Effects of Music
Great stuff: yet another lens using simple but elegant CSS to dress up the lens. It’s well-written, proofread, with an interesting variety of videos and other elements to interrupt Wall o’ Text syndrome. Very interesting test results delivered in a non-boring way.
Possible Tweaks: Add a few more places for Clickouts. For example, in the introduction: “Music can be traced back to the prehistoric times, when a flute was found with a man’s fossil…” I know what archaeological discovery that was, yet I still want to run check! Link to a website or news story about interesting things.
There’s a “Works Cited” plexo at the end of the lens, which is a great idea. But at first glance, I though a link spammer had attacked: it looked like the same URL over and over. On closer inspection, I realized they were all different articles posted on one domain. I suggest changing the boldface titles inthe Links Plexo to be written in words for people to get an idea they point to.
A_willow’s The Beauty of Reusing
This is one of those where I adore the topic and wonder who’s searching the web for it. Anyway….
Great Stuff: There’s a lot of really gorgeous and interesting things on this lens, and a_willow gives us some important, personal details about the items: who the artists are, where they live and what it’s like, what the piece means. There is NO sign of “This is so cool, buy it buy it buy it!” language which can be a turn-off. It’s a fascinating and pretty lens.
Possible tweaks: Some images are clickable links. For both SEO purposes, and to make the links as obvious as possible, I would suggest also including text links to the same things. Also, I suggest adding a larger line-height with more vertical space between lines, for those of us with eyesight problems.
Spirituality’s Mindfulness Books
Katinka knows what she’s doing more than I do, but here goes.
Great Stuff: Unsurprisingly, the SEO on here is subtle but strong, using related phrases like “Mindfulness books” and “Mindfulness exercises throughout. Also, she’s got the lens divided into three pages with page breaks, each more focused on a sub-topic of the main one. Multiple pages could bring in triple traffic if she’s lucky. There’s tons of places to click and expert recommendations on books (which I’m assuming are excellent ones.) I also love the opening lens graphic which simply grabs the eye.
Possible tweaks: Navigation links between pages, giving more clarity on what each page is about. I wonder if there’s an appropriate video for this page ? I’m hesitant to suggest many tweaks, because this one’s well outside my area of expertise, but I wonder if there are ways to fire up and engage the readers a little more directly. Are there any videos out there in which someone talks viewers through a simple breathing or meditation exercise?