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Colored Pencil Guy's Art Gallery

reviewed by a fan!

In the original review request of Colored Pencil Guy's Art Gallery, the author commented: This site is about a number of art forms and applications. It has both content and information regarding 2d media as well as 3d arts and animation/motion graphics, also audio arts. The site is still reletively new and still in development... a slight bit cluttered but 200+ pages large so far. Refining it and the design are a continuing project effort.
Reviewed by: Karen Cardinal
There is no way I could resist doing a review of this site when I saw it in the listings. I have been a long time fan of Mr. Baker's work (since I first saw it on the internet a few years ago). Since I am such a fan, I would love to see some tweaks done to this site to really showcase the wonderful artworks it holds. Here are a few suggestions.
Forgive me if I sound rude, but this has almost become a pet peeve of mine... I should never have to return to your home page just to navigate your site! Create a template page which has your logo, navigation and copyright notice on it along with a spot for a page title and the page's content. If you use the same template for each of your pages simply changing the page title and contents, you can be sure to have a consistent look and a navigation bar that your visitors will appreciate.
      Note - Many people may disagree with me on this (and Fred might be one of them) but I've found that most web site visitors feel most comfortable with no more than 5 or 6 main sections to choose from on a site. When you have too many links for visitors to choose from they get overwhelmed. This is why larger sites combine their pages into a small number of "Main" sections which branch out into sub-sections. I wouldn't know how to suggest combining your galleries, but I will say you do have quite a few galleries on the front page for a viewer to choose from.
Many people find it difficult to read large blocks of light colored text on a dark background. I definitely understand the temptation to put your work on a dark background. But even though you've attempted to fade the background so it doesn't compete with your artworks, too many of your works are "fading" into the background and becoming lost. I feel if you simply switch to a light background you will be able to kill 2 birds with one stone. You will improve the readability of your text tremendously and you can put your art on a background that will make it stand out so the viewer will be able to notice all the wonderful details in your work.
Even without the "Made on a Mac" icon on your site I could tell it was a Mac creation simply because your pages are wide. Yes.. our screens are bigger than theirs. :) Even though many newer machines are using bigger monitors, most people still have their browsers set to 800 pixels wide. I have my monitor set at 1280, but my browser window is very rarely that wide. Normally if you set your outside table width to no more than 760 pixels wide (or 100%) you can avoid making your visitors scroll side to side to see your pages. If you want to create a wide layout then it's best to keep your pages very short so visitors won't have to scroll up and down. Visitors to your site will accept one scroll bar, but if you make them scroll horizontally and vertically they probably won't like it.
Text as Images:
OK... I'll admit I'm as guilty of this as the next guy (which is why I keep redesigning my sites), but if you have a graphic intense site (like an art site), you need to think about whether your text needs to be an image or not. I've become a believer in the "less is more" attitude. What you want to feature to your viewers is your artworks. Things like navigation and page titles can be left as text and if you use css, you can create just as pretty "images" with your text without making your viewers wait for another graphic to download. Save the images for your logo and artworks.
      I have designed sites for other artists where I did use graphics for navigation and/or page titles in order to get the right font or keep things the correct size. Sometimes you may want to do that, but remember every graphic you put on your page makes it take a little longer to download.
Promote yourself first:
You don't seem to be too guilty of this, but it does appear on your pages... I've come to your site to see YOUR work. Show me that first before you show me the ads for other sites. Believe me, I'm a huge supporter of the Colored Pencil Society of America and I love Janie's new book, but I nearly didn't notice your work in the CP gallery because they were so overshadowed by everyone else. Show me the works I came to your site to see. Go ahead and promote others (I'm all for that), but don't let it overpower your own work. A few more of your works in the CP gallery would be nice too! :)
Let's take a look...
Since I can't stand to do a review without an example to look at, I've put together some of these suggestions to illustrate possible solutions. (Load the Bakerdesign.jpg screen.)
     You can see your name (logo), navigation bar and page title are separated from your content by being placed on a dark background made from one of your works. Your content is on a light background which makes the text easier to read and also makes your works inviting to look at. As you can see, with a few simple changes, you can create a very professional looking website that will draw your viewers in.
      Having been a long time fan of your work, I enjoyed going to your site, but with a few updates I really feel everyone will want to come to your site and enjoy coming back to wallow in the beauty of your work.
Editor Notes:
No, Karen -- I happen to agree with that premise. Particularly since this is not supposed to be a portal site. When building a personal site, or one where the author desires a specific "route" through the site, introducing too many choices is a dangerous proposition. And, as I've preached since 1994, why go to all the trouble to get someone to your site and then provide a blatant invitation elsewhere? Doesn't make sense.
      The only thing I can add is that all you readers should definitely stop in at Karen's site, Cardinal Art -- it's one of the more pleasant and interesting sites I've seen in a long time.
Posted: 5/1/2003

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