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

18. November 2014 · Comments Off on Redesigned Web Site for Randy Sabien · Categories: Web Site Examples

A few years ago I designed a web site for violinist Randy Sabien.  It featured his new CD at the time, Rhythm and Bows.

Randy Sabien, old web site


With the release of his his next CD, Soul of a Man, Randy wanted to update the Home page. I took some new photos of Randy (you can read about the photo shoot here), changed the layout, and included sample listening tracks.

Randy’s fishing photos are also on the CD cover and the CD itself.


Randy Sabien, new web site

The new web site

30. October 2013 · Comments Off on Book Cover Design Project · Categories: Photography, Web Site Examples

Jeff McCord asked me to design the cover for his novel, Undocumented Visitors in a Pirate Sea.

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
  • 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.book cover

He also wanted me to help him with the submission process for publishing the book on the Amazon Kindle.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 tried.  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.  The book is available on Amazon:  Undocumented Visitors in a Pirate Sea

I also created an author web site: Jeffrey Roswell McCord, Author

All content Copyright 2013 Alice Gebura.  All Rights Reserved.

01. April 2013 · Comments Off on Let the Buyer Beware · Categories: Web Site Examples · 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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24. April 2012 · Comments Off on Web Site Templates · Categories: Web Site Examples · Tags: , , , , ,

“80% of what we perceive is visual information.”

A Web Site is Mandatory

Today, if you have a business, you need a web site to be taken seriously. Everyone realizes it and everyone wants a web site. But paying for a web site is expensive. It costs a lot because a skilled professional spends a lot of hours collating materials, creating a design, and programming the code behind it all.

Cutting Costs

There are less expensive alternatives to hiring someone to build you a custom web site. You could  write a blog, create a Facebook page, or use a template. This post investigates the pros and cons of using templates to create your web site.
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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.
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I attended a workshop in Ikebana,  the Japanese art of flower arranging. The Ikebana concept that impressed me the most was that of visual motion.  Ikebana strives to keep the eye engaged by eliminating any element that would stop the continuous scanning motion of the eye.   Some examples of such eye stopping elements are:

  • Straight lines
  • 90 degree angles
  • Absence of  negative space (space between objects)

The photo to the left shows an Ikebana arrangement.

Example of Ikebana

Example of Ikebana

Notice the following:

  • Simplicity, only 3 elements: white calla lilies, pink azaleas and black tray
  • Curved lines, no straight lines
  • Only 5 upright flowers grouped as 3 + 2, creating negative space between the vertical elements, the stems
  • Negative space between the horizontal elements: calla lilies at the top,  azaleas and tray at the bottom

Despite the sparse, simple aesthetic, its visual interest  pulls you in and keeps you there.  Isn’t that what we want for our own web sites?

I gave some thought to how I could  apply this to web design.  I believe when you drill down and understand your goals and core values and how to realize them, you arrive at a truth that can be expressed simply and effectively.

If you don’t really understand who you are and what you’re doing, what better way to cover it up than to keep piling on more and more until you get a web site that looks like this:

hutchins for congress

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: Web Site Examples · 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


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


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


  • 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.

“The web design of this web site is horrible.” My daughter was rather annoyed. She had looked up the web site of a local bookstore because she wanted to call them about a book. All she needed was the phone number. Her irritation increased the more she had to click around to find such an obvious piece of information.

How many businesses get caught up with slick, flashy web design but forget to take care of basic information? How many times have you had to click Contact Us to get to a phone number? I’ve visited sites where the phone number or location are seriously buried.

If you want people to call you or locate your place of business, put that information in a prominent location on every page, and never beneath the fold. Consider other factors that contribute to visibility: contrast, font size and color, reverse type, and so forth.

Check out these business sites and see how long it takes you to find the phone number.

Click here to go to Casello Electric

Click here to go to Calumet Photo

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.