roymond wrote:I'm just trying to get to what you think can help. . .
I don't know where to begin. I guess I'll start by cautioning you not to jump to conclusions. If the site has lost its popularity, that might be due to bugs or administrative issues, but all we really know is that not enough people use it. To fix that, we need to attract users.
The first step is to advertise. If Reist hadn't started this thread, I'd never have known about the site. If it's linked from Songfight.org, I've never noticed.
The second step is to make sure that when someone visits for the first time, they don't think, "I've stumbled into someone else's house." The main URL takes you, in effect, directly to some kitchen where strangers appear to be having breakfast. You think, "What am I doing here?" and excuse yourself.
I spoke of visual cues, and you mentioned PLAY buttons and hyperlinks. Those aren't enough. You need a banner that says in effect, "This is a whole site, not just a page drifting in hyperspace." You need clear markers that announce "This is where you can listen to songs!" and "This is where you can find out more about the songs!" and "This is where you can find out more about the artists!" and especially "This is where you can leave your comments!", as well as "This is where you can learn more about the site!"
To extend the metaphor, someone in the kitchen should come over and welcome you.
As for the PLAY buttons, like many other things on the page (including the tabs), they're too crowded. You need to give them some space. Better yet, do away with them. These days if you want to play a song, you click the title -- right? You can add "Learn more" links for the details.
At this point, I'm starting to comment on the functional design, and that's not my intent, so I'll stop and return to the discussion of visual cues.
Better separation of purpose is needed. There's not enough contrast between headings and body, tabs and main page, central area and sidebar. Are you familiar with The Non-Designer's Design Book
by Robin Williams? It's another classic. "The idea behind contrast is to avoid elements on the page that are merely similar
. If the elements (type, color, size, line thickness, shape, space, etc.) are not the same
, then make them very different
. Contrast is often the most important visual attraction on a page."
As for SharePoint, MS has made SharePoint Designer a free download. That's how bad things are.