Friday, January 23, 2015

An Effective Site in Need of an Update
Last week we looked at a recently updated website.  This week I'm going to talk about a site that needs a refresh.

I was drawn to investigate this site after seeing a review of Beth Moon's book, Ancient Trees: Portraits of Time, which features stunning photographs of tree, some of them thousands of years old.

The site has simple, consistent navigation.  The black background is very effective for showcasing the artist's work, which consists of (mostly) black and white photographs.  The front page shows a nice sampling of her work, with links to several of her books.

So what's wrong with this site?  Both the images and the text are small.  It doesn't take advantage of the large display sizes most people are using today.  Moreover, when the site is scaled down to display on a smaller device, like a smart phone, the images and text are really, really small.

Finally, the portfolio pages require the user to click a Continue button to see successive images.  There no way to see an overview of all the photos.  It's not a terrible interface, but it could be nicer.  In comparison, see the portfolio pages on, which we discussed last week.

Having said all this, I will add that is a classic, clean website that does a good job of showing off the artist's amazing photographs.  It's a little dated as a website, but well worth a visit.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Refreshing a Website without a Redesign
Ceramic artist Lee Middleman was generally happy with his site, although it was looking just a bit dated.

The solution, rather than a complete redesign, was to revamp the site. The designers updated the color palette, going from a brown background to grey. The typefaces were also replaced with more contemporary choices. The site was made responsive to take advantage of larger displays, and also display correctly on small mobile devices.

The biggest change occurred behind the scenes: the old, proprietary content management system was replaced with WordPress, making it easier for Lee to update the site.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Large Images Make Photographer's Site an Effective Showcase

Photographer Miikka Skaffari creates dramatic and artistic photos pf people, places, and objects.  His website,, is devoted to showcasing his work with large images and very little text. 

The site features the usual About page, contact info, social networking links, and even a blog, but the focus is clearly on the beautiful large photos. The images are so striking, I couldn't resist going through every photo. Congratulations to Miikka on a very effective presentation of his work.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Illustrations Enhance Website

Last week we looked at a very simple site designed to showcase the artist's work.

In contrast, illustrator Junior Shelver has created an illustrated background for his site,, and uses additional illustrations within the site to...  well...  illustrate his art.

The site includes all the basic features:  gallery pages, artist bio, and contact info, plus a blog and a guestbook.  There are social networking links (Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc) on all pages, but it is the design and illustration that  really make this site work as an effective marketing vehicle for Shelver's work.

Monday, December 6, 2010

It's all about the work on Chris Anderson's site

The home page of Chris Anderson's website,,  is dominated by a large slideshow featuring his stunning nature photography.

The Recent Work and Galleries sections feature good-size thumbnails, which lead to large, high resolution images, each with a title, show description, and "Buy Print" button.

There are the usual Profile and Contact pages, but  the bulk of the site is focused on simply showing Anderson's work and letting it speak for itself.  The neutral background and simple design make the photos really stand out.

As we've seen in the past, some of the best websites don't try to draw attention with elaborate designs of fancy features...  and Chris Anderson's site is a great example of this strategy.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pastel Basics by Anne Enochs

Many artists, through choice or necessity, supplement their art income by teaching.  For some, teahcing becomes their primary vocation.

Anne Enochs' site,, is a great example of an art teacher's website. 

The site is easy to navigate, and it's easy to find info about Anne's background, and her classes.  In addition, there is a prominent link at the top of the page for a basic course on DVD.

There are also several gallery pages with large thumbnails of the artist's work.  By featuring her own work on the site, Anne establishes her credibility as a teacher.  In addition, some of the works are for sale and can be purchased directly through the website.

Overall this is a very professional and effective site that clearly accomplishes the goals of marketing Enochs' teaching services and artwork.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Website Killers

We're frequently asked how we select the Art Site of the Week. There's no magic formula; we try to feature sites that illustrate useful ideas or new features, but sometimes a site just catches our eye!

However, there are many sites that are almost sure NOT to be selected, because of design flaws that make the sites difficult or frustrating to navigate and view. These are things to avoid when creating an artist website, because they will cause many users to leave you site without viewing it.

  1. Music on the site.  Contrary to what you might think, music does not enhance the user's experience.  Visitors may be in an environment where they can't listen to the music, or they may simply not like your choice.  Whatever the reason, analysis of web logs shows that a significant percentage of visitors leave immediately when the music starts.  So unless you are trying to drive people away from your site - get rid of the music.
  2. Long load times.  The web has made people impatient!  If you site takes more than a few seconds the load, visitors will often leave.  This is often a problem for Flash websites. 
  3. Amateurish design.  Design is subjective, but studies show that people judge you by the quality of your website.  If it looks amateurish, visitors are unlikely to take your work seriously.  If you don't have the skills to create a professional looking website, consider hiring someone to do it for you.
  4. Hidden or 'mystery' navigation.  Sorry, the visitor doesn't know that the little easel icon is a lin to your portfolio...  and probably won't bother to try it.  If you want people to find their way around your site, spell it out!
  5. Inconsistent navigation.  Make sure the same navigation choices appear in the same place on every page (typically at the top or left edge).  Visitors who can't easily find what they are looking for frequently leave.
  6. Typos and spelling errors.  While not as serious as some of the other website flaws, typos and mistakes make a site look less professional.  If you are not confident with your spelling and grammar skills, have someone proofread your site.
  7. Display problems.  Artist websites often use advanced Javascript, CSS, and server-side scripting to deliver advanced features.  However, these features may cause the site to display incorrectly in some browsers.  (Most professional web designers test on the two most recent versions of each of the major browsers, and versions 6 through 8 of Internet Explorer...  another good reason to hire a professional.)
  8. Proprietary plugins.  You website should not require the visitor to download and install something in order to view it, because very few visitors will.
There are many potential problems that will make visitors leave, rather than explore your website, but the list above represents the problems we see most frequently.  Check your own site, and if you have any of these problems, it's time to fix them.