Michelle Pier is among the most creative, talented people we know. She’s a prolific painter, a savvy businesswoman, and is on a mission to liven up the world and everyone in it with purpose, joy and gratitude.
Like many of the Creativepreneurs who come to us for help, Michelle is at a loss with her website, Creative Indeed.net. This isn’t unusual. Oh, you might say to yourself, “But she makes art for a living, why would she need a designer to help her with her site?”
I’ll share a little secret with you. As artists, when it comes to doing work for ourselves, we are often our most demanding and difficult clients. Our work is so close to our hearts we can’t always see what it is we need to do, or how to present ourselves in the best way possible to reach our desired audience.
In today’s website critique, we’ll take a look at Michelle’s site and offer some suggestions that we hope will help her gain the clarity she needs.
The first thing we notice when arriving at Creative Indeed is a sense of crowded heaviness. The site may be on a white background, but the thick, black navigation bar, the chunky font for the title in the header, and the cramped text below that combined with the bright multi-colored image in the content section right next to another equally bright multi-colored optin image, all detract from what could be airy white space and add to sense of clutter and confusion.
In every website, a clear eye path is critical. You want the visitor’s eye to follow a predictable pattern that will lead to the outcome you desire. On this site, we don’t know where to look first. There’s no clear eye path to follow. We follow the title and see a small navigation bar, then we see another bar below that with another button for Home. Then we get into the content and an image made from a collage of individual images. It’s a little busy as our eyes bounce around until they land on the optin in the right sidebar.
What would help is to either get rid of the extra Home and make that thick black line a two or three point rule line, or get rid of the top navigation, reduce the height of the bar with Home in it and have just the one navigation bar in all black.
We’d also suggest a less chaotic image for the content area so that it doesn’t clash with the optin. Pick any one of those smaller images and put it in there, either centered large across the top of the content, or move it to the left so it’s not conflicting with the optin form.
As we scroll down the page we see Michelle has a HUGE section in the footer area for her portfolio images. So much in the footer bothers me. Too much scrolling. Too much stuff.
The footers as she has them now make the Gallery pages confusing and overwhelming. We have to click to enter the gallery, then scroll through all the thumbnails, then scroll some more when we reach the footers. As a rule, too much scrolling and clicking and busy potential clients and readers leave rather than becoming potential clients. By using a theme created specifically in mind for a gallery such as this, you will increase the likelihood that potential clients will enjoy their visit much more—and therefore stay longer.
The content on the interior pages is also a bit chaotic. The gallery page has a “commission the artist” right at the top before anyone has had a chance to view the art. Another of the gallery pages starts off with an About section, but…Michelle also has an About page…so which is it?
Keep all the About info on the About page, keep the Commission info on the Services page, keep the gallery images on the gallery pages. Be clear to your audience, don’t confuse them with repetitive info or too much info on every page.
Ahhh, and as we explore the interior pages, we see that the thick black bar displays the title of the page a visitor is on. That makes sense now, but we’d still suggest making it smaller, thinner, it’s too overpowering. Your visitors may not have made it this far for it to “make sense” to them. Having clarity on the home page right at the start will make for a much more enjoyable experience.
Overall, Michelle has all the right tools for a successful website, what she needs now is a little streamlining and refining of both the theme and the content. Her craft is in pictures, beautiful ones at that. Why let so many words clutter it up? Focus on the paintings, give them room to breathe and speak for themselves. Use a theme that will showcase the paintings instead of smothering them.
What Michelle needs is a theme specifically suited for showcasing a lot of images. A theme with built in galleries and options for highlighting thumbnails of her images would go a long way in cleaning this up. The galleries she has in her footers make the site look unorganized with all the different sizes and the back and forth between portrait and landscape orientations. The giant Facebook widget, with its thumbnails within thumbnails of Facebook albums only contributes to the visual confusion.
We recommend Studio Press’s Genesis, which has several child themes that would work well for Michelle. Manhattan, Expose, Landscape and Modern Portfolio are all geared for gallery specific sites and provide a great foundation to build on. Using a gallery oriented theme would provide her with the functions and organization she needs, all the while presenting her work in a clear, clean and professional manner that will give her visitors the best experience.
Michelle does amazing work and it’s only fitting that her site reflects and enhances her talents.