This was a fun project. At the beginning of every design or redesign project I ask what’s the audience for this web site. For Pony Party Place the audience is families with young children. Research showed unanimously that children respond best to cartoon web sites. This is my first cartoon-style web site and I had a blast with it. I purchased a stock cartoon pony, but the rest of the cartoon images I either created in Photoshop or got from free clip-art sites. I also did an on-site photo shoot at one of the parties, which, by the way, looked like one of the best kid birthday parties ever.
Before and After
A few years ago I helped violinist Randy Sabien redesign his web site (see left). With the release of his new CD “Soul of a Man”, Randy wanted to update the Home page of his web site to emphasize the CD release. I changed the layout, updated the photos, and included sample tracks to listen to. I also included the CD cover which features a photo I took of Randy. You can read about the photo shoot here.
You can check out the new web site and buy the CD at randysabien.com.
The New Web Site
Jeff McCord asked me to design the cover for his novel, Undocumented Visitors in a Pirate Sea. He also wanted me to help him with the submission process for publishing the book on the Amazon Kindle. Here’s a description of the story:
Designing the book cover was a lot of fun. Jeff had definite ideas about what he wanted on the cover: “the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, a pirate flag, and some sort of UFO image.” We lucked out because there are two great images in the public domain we could use of the Kennedy and a pirate flag. I used Photoshop to remove the helicopter from the Kennedy photo and add a more interesting sky from another photo of mine. Then I used Illustrator to design the text on the cover.
To publish a book for the Kindle you need to have your book manuscript in HTML format. Jeff wrote the book in MS Word and sent me the Word document to work with. There’s a function in MS Word that converts a Word document into an HTML file, which I used. The result was an ugly pile of junk code that sort of worked. I spent more time cleaning up the code than I would have doing the HTML myself. Lesson learned: don’t use the MS Word convert to HTML function. Now the book is available to purchase and read, if you have a Kindle: Undocumented Visitors in a Pirate Sea
We just finished working on a hard copy version of the book, which will be available soon. Jeff asked me to format the manuscript for printing. I started with his Word document and converted it into one of the templates provided by Amazon CreateSpace.
Now it’s up to Jeff to market the book. Here’s an early press release:
All content Copyright 2013 Alice Gebura. All Rights Reserved.
Shadia is one of the finest belly dance costume designers in the U.S.
Her fabulous creations have graced many, many dancers in the United States and even internationally.
I’ve been working with Shadia on a web site to showcase her costume portfolio and promote her costume design and production business.
Her personal story is fascinating and you’ll enjoy the photos on the Portfolio page.
For me this project was pure joy because of the visual richness of the costumes and the images.
On March 15, 2012 I attended the Web Site Demolition Derby panel at the South by Southwest Music Festival. On the panel were:
The purpose of the panel was to critique musicians’ web sites. Following are my notes.
- Text is too small
- Auto playing music or other sounds
- Built in Flash animations – Flash never looks as good as the first time you see it, the novelty wears off, and it doesn’t work on mobile devices (you’d know this already if you read my blog!)
- Your name or what you do is not immediately clear
- Audio or video players don’t work
- People hate you for putting them through extra clicks
- Keep it simple
- Build your web site to change frequently – treat your web site as living and breathing
- Implement a 30 day, or less, news cycle
- Make it unique – branding and identity are important
- Reflect who you are
- If you’re a performer, always provide a date your fans can look forward to
- Immediately give your visitors something to play or watch
- Text is just as important as photos
Internet users are more and more sophisticated these days and aren’t granting businesses any slack when the web site is less than professional. The Boston Globe article When Bad Web Sites Happen to Good Restaurants highlights common complaints people make about restaurant web sites. Those complaints apply to all web sites so I’ve made a checklist.
Two web sites caught my eye recently.
Blue Box Layout
The Guthrie Theater web site has a great layout. Blue boxes in all different sizes contain information, photos, and a slide show. The image below was captured in 2009. Click on it to see how it has evolved today.
The web site for artists Louviere + Vanessa: New Orleans is definitely outside the box. I love their images. To navigate the site you use your mouse to draw an arrow in the direction you want to go. You’ve got to try it and see what you think of it. It’s really strange, but I love the user interaction. If I were truly trying to find information, this might be a frustrating experience. But the site is an art gallery and it’s so much fun to wander through the gallery with this unusual navigation gizmo. Gotta find out how they do it!!
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.
The experience of good web site design feels like settling into a comfortable chair.
When the design is visually exhausting, it repels the user instead of inviting him or her in. Let’s take a look at how two yoga studios present themselves on the web.
First, the Dog