07. June 2012 · Comments Off on How Much Does it Cost? · Categories: Business Issues · Tags: , ,

Clients are always concerned about the cost of a web site.  Web site production is unfamiliar territory for most people and they don’t know what to expect.  This post helps you understand some of the factors that affect web site cost.  Here I discuss a custom web site designed and built specifically for you.  This post doesn’t cover WordPress web sites, WordPress blogs or commercial templates.

Think of paying for a web site as you would a car.  You can buy anything from a small scooter (simple web site) to a six figure sports car (Flash web site).  In other words, there’s something available for any budget.  Cars have been around for over 100 years and everyone has an idea how much car a certain amount of money will buy.

The difficulty with web sites is that people don’t yet have a good understanding of cost and value.  How do multiple columns, a lot of illustrations, an online store, video, or audio affect cost?  What functions do you need to see a direct pay back in your business and what functions are simply eye candy that won’t provide significant value?
More »

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

More »

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:
More »

bosch
I’ve always enjoyed the 7 deadly sins as thematic material for art and literature.  So I got a big kick out of the following use of the 7 sins to structure a narrative on bad web design.   Its origin is a webinair by Seth Rosenblatt at the American Marketing Association.  It came to me via a newsletter by Lynn Ericson from Ericson Mitchell.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
More »

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.

02. February 2010 · Comments Off on The Persuasive Power of Repetition, Clarity, & Simplicity · Categories: Design Tips · Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

easyAnother argument emerges for simple web design (see my previous post  Creating Your Web-Scape)  in Drake Bennett’s article on cognitive fluency, Easy=True. Cognitive fluency is  the psychological precept that “people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard…In any situation where we weigh information, fluency is implicated in our decisions about everything.”

In a nutshell, when information is easier to mentally process, people feel attraction and belief.  The opposite,  disfluency – making things difficult to grasp,  creates a cognitive roadblock that makes people wary and uncomfortable.

While this might seem intuitively obvious, evidence abounds that plenty of businesses (and web designers) don’t get it.

Bennett’s article is a terrific resource for more information on fluency and disfluency and the supporting research.

For the purpose of this blog let’s take a look at the practical implications of fluency and  disfluency in terms of web design.  Keep in mind this is all based on research, not my own preferences.

Disfluency:the art of making things difficult –

Web Design that Loses Business

Here are some characteristics of a disfluent web site that will leave web site visitors with a negative impression.

Inaccessibility

  • Unfamiliar words (for example, technical jargon and acronyms)
  • Names and words that are difficult to pronounce
  • Complex syntax
  • Illegible text (see my previous post The Dog and the Lotus)
  • Missing information or convoluted instructions
  • Functions that don’t quite work

Sensory Overload

  • Overcrowding the page
  • Visual distractions
  • Multiple columns of disparate text
  • Little or no white space
  • Flickering animation

Inconsistency

  • Confusing navigation
  • Poor organization

Fluency:the art of making things easy to understand –
Web Design that Encourages Business

Here are some characteristics of a fluent web site that subliminally suggest to visitors that your business is reputable and trustworthy.

Repetition

  • Consistent navigation and page layout across the web site
  • Artful repetition of key ideas(note: repetition is good, redundancy is bad – know the difference)

Clarity

  • Legible fonts and color coordination
  • Plenty of white space
  • Language and syntax that everyone can understand

Simplicity

  • Message boiled down to its essence
  • Graphic design and content that are easy to assimilate (accessible) both visually and conceptually

Web Site Analysis: The Glass House

glass house web siteLet’s take a look at the web site for The Glass House and see how well it does fluency wise.

Repetition: The grey box is repeated throughout as the background to the title (I like the opacity that reminds us of the see through quality of glass), the background in the drop down menus, and the background for other important pieces of information.

Clarity: The site contains a lot of information,  notice how it’s been logically organized and categorized.

Simplicity: One column layout, plenty of white space.

Verdict: Fluency.  I’m convinced this is a reputable organization dedicated to professionalism on all levels.

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

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.