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.

Biggest Mistakes

  • 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

Best Advice

  • 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

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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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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.

Home Page, Guthrie Theater

Innovative Navigation

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!!

Louviere + Vanessa, web site

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.

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.