09. February 2016 · Comments Off on Pony Party Place has a New Web Site Design · Categories: Web Site Examples · Tags: , , , ,

cartoon ponyThis 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.

Pony Party Place

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
  • 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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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.

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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