01. April 2013 · Comments Off on Let the Buyer Beware · Categories: Developing Content for Your Web Site · Tags:

Today my client The Investor Advocate posted a remembrance of the great legal journalist Anthony Lewis, who died a week ago today. As a young man Lewis was greatly influenced by Justice Harlan Fiske Stone’s footnote to his opinion in U.S. v. Carolene Products Co., decided in 1938. You can read the details as they relate to Lewis in the post.

My job was to find an image to go with the post so I started by searching for anything related to the court case.
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Think twice before investing in a Flash web site.  This post explains why.

A web site is built with a bunch of code that a browser such as Internet Explorer or Firefox can translate into pictures and text to display on a computer.  HTML and CSS are the basic languages that accomplish this.  Other programming tools let you build slide shows, interactive forms, and so forth. One of the tools you can use to build an entire web site or parts of it is Adobe Flash. Flash is basically an animation program. Here are two examples of Flash built web sites:
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Home Page, Web Site of Louis Lortie

Home Page, Web Site of Louis Lortie

Monday, March 1 marks the 200th anniversary of Frederick Chopin’s birthday.  In honor of one of my favorite composers let’s talk about the web site of pianist Louis Lortie.  For me this web site is the epitome of why we bother to build web sites.  Louis Lortie is a  concert pianist and recording artist.  At his site there is a great depth of information about him, his career and discography, and, most interesting, it showcases his thoughts about music interpretation and its challenges.

Here’s the treasure you’ll find on just one page, Chopin:

  • An excerpt from the score of a Chopin Etude
  • A series of videos
  • A photo of Chopin

The series of short videos showcase  Lortie playing two of the Chopin Etudes (a glorious aural experience) and Lortie, at the piano, talking about his approach to playing the etudes while playing excerpts to illustrate his thoughts.  As each video plays, its title  changes from black to lavender so you can keep track of where you are in the series.  Or, you can click on the one you want to hear.  Great user interface design!  Notice that underneath the video the timer is presented as a musical staff!  Clever design!

Chopin Page, Web Site of Louis Lortie

Chopin Page, Web Site of Louis Lortie

My only criticism is that the text on the home page is hard to read – a result of using a justified right margin and the italic font with very little line spacing.  The  opacity factor on the font doesn’t help either.

Lortie has created a passionate web site with great depth of information that gives us a window into his soul and the beauty of the music he plays.

Analysis by Smart Alice Web Design & Photography, smart web design for businesses who want a unique and effective presence on the internet.

Do you like animation or flashy motion effects on a web site? In general, I don’t, unless they provide added value to me. A scrolling or jumping animation might catch my eye for a second, but it takes less than a second to click to another web site that isn’t so irritating.

dancerI detest advertising. We all do, that’s one reason why TiVO is so popular. Advertising invades our mind space without asking our permission.  A web site with animated advertising reminds me of Mexican jumping beans!   Instead of getting eye strain, I’ll just click to another web site.

There are instances when motion graphics are useful, such as:

  • Slide shows that the user can control
  • Embedded videos when they are relevant, make me laugh, or teach me something. Make sure a video is high quality. Embed the video on the page, don’t make the visitor click to another site to watch it.

One of the keys to success, if you’re going to put something flashy on your site, is to give control to the visitor. I don’t want to passively sit while something runs. That’s why I always click Skip Intro (you know what I’m talking about).

Click to go to James Zabiela's web site.
Here’s a web site with moving graphics that I like.  James Zabiela is a DJ so it makes sense that his web site puts on a high tech show. I like this twist: instead of placing motion graphics against a static background, he puts motion graphics in the background and places static text over it. I also like the sleek and elegant music player he provides unobtrusively in the upper right corner.  The player lets me turn off the sound, if I would like to.  Give control to the visitor!

What’s Appropriate for You?

What is your message and do motion graphics enhance or undermine it? Know your target customer. Make the site comfortable for them. And, put them in control of the graphics.

Analysis by Smart Alice Web Design & Photography, smart web design for businesses who want a unique and effective presence on the internet.

Copyright 2009, Alice Gebura, All Rights Reserved.

choclateOne of my all time favorite web sites is David Lebovitz, Living the Sweet Life in Paris. Lebovitz is an all star pastry chef. His web site/blog has fabulous food photos (I’ve included an example here). The images are superb – beautiful, professional photographs that instantly tell you this guy is serious about food and food quality. He uses those gorgeous photos to illustrate his various culinary adventures with ingredients and funky kitchen gadgets.
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