Well designed websites
The time when I have to set up a website for my work has unfortunately come round, and I would love to get people's opinions and recommendations regarding websites they enjoy browsing.
I'm especially interested in FSU's good taste for artist/photographer/small business websites.
- Rep Power
Please, nothing that starts playing audio or video as soon as you log on to the website. In fact, no audio or video at all.
Simple is always better.
When I worked for a web firm prior to the dot-bomb, we'd always do research at http://www.coolhomepages.com/ to see what other firms were doing.
As for artist/photographer sites, I find the ones that display the portfolio using thumbnails to be the easiest to use. Bonus if each image is well tagged and the search feature actually works. See Getty Images for proper tagging/search feature.
Oh, and don't forget to put Contact Us in the upper right as well as the footer.
AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan
I like this site for inspiration: http://webdesignledger.com/
+ a gazillion. I immediately click away from sites that start making noise at me. If I want to hear something, I'll click on an audio or video link.
Originally Posted by Ajax
And please make sure "Contact Us" provides email, address and phone information in a way that the user can copy-paste it into a to do note or other file. (Some websites do them as images or in some other form that is not amenable to copy/paste, which is really annoying.)
Thanks. ITA about the noisy/video stuff. Flash is on its way out, I hear, anyway... I like things that are clean and simple, but modern looking all the same. And I've seen surprisingly few good combinations...
Perhaps more important than looking at good websites, is looking at bad ones: http://www.webpagesthatsuck.com/
Sometimes what should seem like an obvious thing to avoid, isn't. And, it's rather ironic that the site I linked above is actually terribly hard to navigate.
Clean and uncluttered always gets my vote. A very clear "about us" is something I always look for. As others have said, the "Contact Us" should have multiple contact points.
Also, I'd rather have choices in a dropdown rather than multiple click throughs. How do others feel about that?
And yes, Flash is, thankfully, on its way out.
You should also give thought to accessibility by the disabled, such as making font sizes adjustable for the vision impaired.
Agree with everything said here so far. And yes, Flash IS on its way out, since Adobe announced last week that they would cease Flash development for mobile. I bet Steve Jobs is smiling benevolently up wherever he is.
Small business pages run the gamut, but if you're leaning more toward artist/photography sites, I think looking at the examples on http://www.prosite.com/home/examples are a great way to start. It's very user-friendly, clean, and uncluttered. The work is center-stage, not the site.
One small business site I came across recently that I thought was very well-designed is http://thebutcherandlarder.com/. Note that all the really important information is at the top - address and contact, as well as HOURS. I tweeted the designer and was like, "Thank God someone thinks store hours are an important thing to know!"
The classic source of inspiration is over at Zen Garden. Click on the links to the right to see what people can do with CSS. http://csszengarden.com/
Thanks for the inspiration .... keep them coming.
That butcher site is great. And the Prosite builder I had not seen before... some great ideas.
There's a good chance I'll be paying someone to do it for me, since I need it to look good and I have little time to devote to it at the moment. I'd like to have a few things that I like to show them.
Choose your designer carefully. If you don't have any in mind, I'd be happy to recommend some great people/companies. I work in the creative industry. (I don't do web design, I just know rad people who do.)
Originally Posted by millyskate
Also, don't be like these people: http://clientsfromhell.net/
I'm pretty sure millyskate isn't going to hire anyone. She's a student!
Yeah good website people don't come cheap, especially if you want someone who can design and code! I'm just starting to take on work so I "come cheap" compared to experienced pros, but I'm also juggling a bunch of stuff so someone would still have to throw A LOT of money at me for me to do it in a timely manner.
I think the Behance ProSite service is great for an artist/photographer to quickly throw together a great-looking gallery site (plus it's connected to the Behance network so you'll get exposure there), but it does cost money. You'd be spending money for a domain and hosting anyway, but you can get both for much less than $11/month.
An artist I'm friends with uses http://www.weebly.com/ which is free, but it's kind of like Frontpage/Dreamweaver in that unless you know what you're doing, it's easy to have it look amateur. I spent some time helping my friend fiddle with his site's CSS because he didn't know how to do it. It's super-easy to put in a good-looking gallery though, so if that's all you want, that's also an option.
Please don't throw money away on designing a website. You can't afford what it takes to get a good design and you are a photographer so you should have the visual sense to make your own simple web site. Plus, there are plenty of portfolio sites out there where they walk you through the steps to set up your site using a template and that is perfectly adequate for your purposes.
Originally Posted by millyskate
Look at some famous photographers web sites and you'll see that most of them follow a simple pattern and is easy to use and gets the information you need to get out. It would be different if you were designing an online store or some other complicated web site.
Having seen far, FAR too many horrific photography websites, I would argue that spending money on good site design would never be a waste (if the end goal of the site is to lead to income from your work). I *will* say that you can look for opportunities to get creative about how you pay for the service. Last year, a friend of mine was building websites (beautiful ones) for friends on the cheap to build up her portfolio quickly so she could start up her own business. In one case, she traded services with another friend of mine, instead of charging. Perhaps there are opportunities for you to offer photography services in exchange for a discount on web design.
Originally Posted by MacMadame
I wouldn't condone breaking the bank on a site when there are plenty of good templates out there, but it is worth considering the advantages and disadvantages of taking either route. The time saved and professional touch found by hiring someone can make have a big impact. I've spent the last 6 years looking at photographs and photography websites for a living--it makes a difference.
Also, having a good eye for photography does not translate into having good design sensibility. I know some people who take wonderful pictures who are utterly useless when it comes to other kinds of design. (Not that that's necessarily the case with millyskate.)
There is a middle ground. If you choose to use one of the template sites, have a pro help you tweak it before you launch. Something a simple as changing a greyscale can have a huge impact on the usability of a site.
One other thing, when you're ready for testing, test using your actual target audience, not random family and friends. In assess your target audience, figure out how old they are, how experienced they are, what platforms they use (including iPad), and the top 3 things they need to do on your site. Write out a test plan. For example, if you have e-commerce, make sure your test plan includes having customers read and acknowledge your policies for returns and refunds. Then, make sure you can modify an order, cancel an order, and displaying receipts for any transactions. Too many people focus on visual appeal, only to find that the site is difficult to use and/or does not comply with applicable laws.
AceOn6, the golf loving skating fan
Originally Posted by Anita18
Agreed on both counts!
Originally Posted by Aceon6