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Feedback

I went to a client’s house yesterday and took a look at my web site on his computer and it was jacked up. The menu was in the wrong place, the there was some distortion, and I was taken back. Yesterday, I got a crude email from someone complaining that the site was looking distorted and unprofessional… yest with every browser I can find I am not seeing the same problem.

I have asked fellow designers and people in the industry to take a look at my site – for what I was hoping for – some real critical feedback and got nothing back.

I have actually begged for feedback. …and nothing.

The sites you see were checked in Explorer, FireFox, Safari and Chrome. The layouts look good in all of them. 1 minor problem with Firefox, but am working on it though it is – very minor.

Feedback for any creative person is vital. Critical feedback is great. A blast to the face is not feedback; nor does it provide details as to what you are seeing versus what I am seeing.

At the client’s house he was using Explorer 8; the same or close to the Browser I check it with from my office. I can see an error in the site from my computer, but it is in a Javascript that has something to do with flash in the framework of the WordPress theme I customized. An answer is still looming.

MONOTRPOLIS Rendering

I always take on too much. In fact today, I am starting to stress myself out because there are 1/2 dozen things I have not finished because  something stole my attention. I had to finish the rendering for the Sculpture Project.

It’s a big project but I am already assembling the pieces. This fundraiser is important so I can get the funds needed to make and deliver this bad boy to Burning Man on time. My partner on this project, Tom Walters, says he has much of the guts already.

I found the framework and the skin of the project. It’s amazing how simple the project is in my head… where it all starts… but I have to be real and know I need to get Buzay!

Finding the fit….

So, oops I did it again. For the 4rth time in 4 months I have revamped this web site. I have been trying to find the groove along with the story that tells it right. Just about there… as a client I suck for myself.

One of the things on the previous version I had a problem with was that the menu was making less sense than I was comfrotable with. Navigation is everything on a site. SEO is important, but if someone cannot find anything that makes sense it all unravels.

Now I am going to work in showing work a little better too.

Story Telling

A web site should tell a story. It should be a consistent tale, right? So let’s use Little Red Riding Hood as an example.

So you know the story, ol’ Red is hopping down the path and stops in front of the Bear’s house and smells the pourage. But she is distracted by a fifth wheel for sale and can sleep 8 people. It’s been to Yosemite 6 times.  WHAT??? That pourage smelled good, but this billboard made her forget about visiting the house so she kept going where she was eaten by the 3 pigs.

What’s the point? Recently I talked to a couple of clients who had a service to sell and as we discussed what the web site was about, he noted he wanted to sell his motorcycle on the front page. Which let to an RV he also wanted to sell. My advice – save those for eBay. Keep your story consistent.

Another case in point: A young woman approached me saying she needed a web site. One service was massage, but the other was gardening… my immediate thought was these were two different stories. I recommended having two different web sites.

Any web site should be engaging, otherwise people will leave. As a designer and a User Experience trained professional I can only make recommendations, but the person with the checkbook will make the ultimate decision. Eventually the Bounce Rate will begin telling it’s own story.

One client has an 80% bounce rate and for reasons he knows about. Is he willing to change, no. One client has a 26% bounce rate, should anything change. Hell no.

The point is that en engaging story will bring people back, and that really is the key. Search engines have become smarter and much more sophisticated in how they make their rankings so the old tricks really do not work. Bottom line… offer people what they need and be engaging. Keep the story consistent and not convoluted.

What do you think? I added my kilt designs to this site… should I have?

Twitter Neglect

So, I tell many of my clients with Twitter to keep their profiles active and engaging. This is especially truthful for those seeing a service. Like my client Engine1Pizza.com, there was a reluctance to embrace the technology offered. However, since seeing an article on how well social networks can help they jumped right on.

Here I am advising clients to work  the social networks while I have been neglecting my own! Shame on me.

So I pose the question for those who might answer, “for reals?” My twitter pov shows me every-one’s point of view for the best articles out there or directing people to their own blogs. Are we just feeding each other? Is this ultimately the goal?

I saw one posting that caught my eye on Twitter today: “The Dudes Blog“. Having a sense of curiosity and half expecting the blog of a 45 yer old car enthusiast. Instead it was a designer touting his blog on design. …uhm I think…. still not sure after visiting it again. But with the mentioning of being a MAC snob and touting CS5 I’ll conclude he is a designer of some kind.

But I digress, how much is this social network hooey working. Well, it got me to check out The Dude’s Blog and visit Razvan’s Twitter profile. It got me to scan for the latest Smashing Magazine articles and more. So I conclude, it’s pretty good. Go viral!

The Web Site

So, I have been working on the new site representing my work. You can see how much creative energy I have been putting into various projects which now seems to include clothing.

The t-shirts was my first introduction. But, I learned to use a sewing machine recently and whammo-bammo I am making kilts! I found some inspiration, but basically I am taking that several steps further.

Kilt: Centurian Dressed

The beige muslim one is a favorite of mine. I made the lined pouch bag for the front of it. Note the two nuts on the front… a bit of whimsy there! ha ha ha. The blue one was made as a gift for a friend for his birthday. Pretty cool lookin’ huh?

Work in Progress

As of today (4/20/10) I am working on another major update to the site. I have not received a single ounce of critical feedback though I have been asking for it. So, I decided to add WordPress to this site and give people easier opportunity to present any feedback they wanted to. Plus, by importing my blog I am now more centralized.

Earlier today, I decided to be so clever as to accidentally delete the whole show. But, in the process I learned a lot of things about managing WordPress and some hosting issues for future knowledge.

My timing could not have been any better. I was scheduled for a phone interview this morning at 10a.m. and wanted the employer to see the updated site. Uhm, yeah. That turned into a fiery picnic basket to hell, ha ha ha. 2 hours later all is well again. I love my hosting company.

I got a restore from them, plus some files I had backed up… wazzooo! All is back now. It is still a work in process, but at least it is coming together!

Hosting v. Domain Purchase

Any freelance clients I have ever had… if they have not already obtained hosting and/or their domain I tell them to buy them separately. But I have a couple clients who were sucked into the goDaddy commercials. This has to be the worst hosting I ever had to deal with.

If you want good Hosting, hit me up. I can host you on my shared account and do your maintenance. Or I can set you up on a separate Hosting where you can maintain your own. Unless you are using a CMS anyway.

Either way, it is smart because if you end up hating your hosting company for any reason; poor up-time, poor service, etc… you are not married to the two services.

One friend/client did that and had a billing dispute with his hosting company. He ended up losing his domain and his hosting only to be left high and dry. Hmph!

Been Busy

A couple small Freelance projects have come up, one of them for a political initiative. Choosing not to say anything about it right now, but interesting background on it.

Design-wise, since this is a California issue I am doing a deconstruction of the California flag for color and design elements. Personally, I am not a politically minded person. I would rather stay out of it, because there seem to be enough “know it all’s” out there already.

It’s hard to stay on the side lines these days given all the insane issues right now. Between unemployment, personal liberties and health care atom bombs tossed through the air… it is a little crazy.

The web site design I have here on art23design (StudioSK) has received almost no feedback. Of course, the purpose is to feature the design work. Feel free to make comments please either here or via email.

Communiverse

One of the things I have noticed of recent weeks is when dealing with people in this industry, how important it is to be able to communicate. There have been some new walls that popped up in the road and I felt a need to address them.

1. Design without Input
I have been handed some projects recently and told to use my imagination, ‘just go for it’, which inevitably ends up face down in the dirt with a mouth full of dust. Then I have to dig for input so I can match the vision of what the person is really looking for.

One time I was asked to build a site for an affiliate program and was shown the existing site; it was stark and monochromatic. However, because it dealt with medical affiliate and pharmacy related items I naturally built something accordingly that went down like a …. well something ugly. Anyway, after some pushing I found out they wanted it like CNN Health web site and had a Native American approach to medicine; Medicine Man. Alas, they got the CNN Health feel. Unfortunately the site never published anyway.”

2. Who are you building the site for?
Too often I think someone ordering a web site thinks they are building for themselves, with little to no consolation for who is coming to see it. It’s especially difficult when the customer makes themselves the designer.

Now the latter is not always bad. In a recent Freelance situation I had a client who WAS A designer and they knew exactly what they wanted. They had a model all picked out and it was a matter of helping them make it their own.

In other cases I have people with unrealistic needs; like getting a high ranking on Google with no effort on their own.

3. And finally, internal communication
Somewhere along the way working with someone I enjoyed doing projects with, we got lost. My programming genius is backing out of a project and I am already behind the 8-ball on this one. Now I need to refill that role and get moving on it again. If you are struggling, let someone know or get some help.