I asked a friend and colleague who has a good eye for things like this to take a look at the site as well.
His comments were mainly about the usability of the menu, and they were good comments, so I wanted to share them.
First, it may not be immediately clear that they are menus. I agree and would like to set them off visually more if I can find an attractive way to do that. See the discussion on the color scheme as well, as this would be a good place to use a third color.
Second, even if you realize they are menus, there’s a noticeable delay before the menu appears. Some will click the main item before the sub-menu is shown. I have no idea if this is a performance issue outside our immediate control (still concerned about the overall performance too), or if there’s like an artificial delay we can change.
Next both he and I agree we’d prefer the main items themselves *not* be clickable links or separate pages.
Then, some comments on how the elements use (or waste) vertical space. My friend made the observation that the prevalence of wide-screen monitors (and I’d add, mobile devices) make vertical space a premium.
So he suggested we remove the Home link altogether – people often know to click the logo for that purpose – or at worst put it beside Welcome on the other menu. One further thought I have is to actually move the Site Development Blog link up to the top for now, so we can remove it later with minimal impact on the layout. I might give that a try.
Also, the search bar – it would be nice if it could occupy the same vertical space that the logo does rather than being above (or below) it. Still right-justified, but in that excess space the “logo row” occupies. That will likely take some CSS wrangling, though.
Ok, lunch break over. I have some other useful comments from him, but they’ll have to wait.