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WDR Reviews:
Down Under Quilts

We got a note from Jan reminding us that she had posted her site for review some time ago, but had not seen a review.

First, folks, please understand that we look at all the sites posted, but we may not build online reviews of many of them. Obviously doing this for free requires us to impose limitations on the number of sites reviewed. What we do though, is try to select sites who's reviews will send more 'universal' messages about many of the sites submitted.

Let's take a look at "Down Under Quilts" website.
There seems to be a universal affection for quilts. It's reflected in this website.
... We're familiar with quilts and quilting, having come from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. This area is steeped in the traditions of our early settlers, the Quakers, Amish from the Pennsylvania regions north of the Valley. There's even a quilt museum not too far from here.
. . . Down Under Quilts is purveying a wealth of information about the quilting arts. The site's navigation and structure is all well placed and it loads nicely.
Let's ask some questions. . .

What's the most important message of this website?
. . . We were told, but do we really feel it when we arrive. A quilt gives us a feeling of warmth, security and home. Shouldn't we conjur these emotions when we arrive on the website?
. . . Does the background send a 'quilting' message? Is the background even necessary? (I always ask: can you eliminate anything and not miss it? Do you miss the background when you launch the site with graphic off. No. We didn't miss it.)
. . . When one considers the colorful and decorative qualities of hand-made quilts, the question follows why we're not seeing more of the craft? The site uses visual images that really don't speak of the wonderful designs found in quilts. This could be an overall theme that would give all visitors -- not just those interested in quilts -- a piece of eye candy to enjoy.
. . . Yes, the header is nice, and almost carries the ball. I'd like to make it slightly bigger.
. . . There also seems to be too many links here, with no real incentive to dig into the site. The reader needs a bit of romancing.
. . . In one content area, local celebrity Jan T. Urquhart, quiltmaking tutor, author, publisher, webmaster, judge and speaker delivers the more important information and content for the site.
. . . But we're left a little cold with the presentation of the information -- a mug shot, a list of green links and bluish colored table cells!
How about a more inviting headline? (see footnote)

. . . The attempt to perk up the type with initial caps is admirable, it fails due to the spacing problems of html delivery. Perhaps those initial caps should be graphics, with the letter laid on a 'quilted' panel.
. . . While the text and credentials of Ms. Urquhart are impressive, we have to wonder if images of the actual quilts, and other works would not have impressed the reader much more.
. . . The information is lively and interesting, but we yearn to SEE what she's talking about. The reader would be much more drawn into the content flow if all decoration was left off the page other than visuals of the subject, and simple typography. How about if we push the links to the bottom? How about if the mug shot appears at the bottom with the author's tag line?
. . . We yearned to redesign this site. To develop a type font that looks like quilting. . . with initial caps bordered by quilt designs -- to utilize typography and imagry that sends a visual, message of high quality, hand-made comfort.
. . . Let us feast on the visual pleasures of the art. . . not the mechanics of the web page!

"The reader wants to be infatuated with what you're saying . . .
not how you're saying it."

footnote: Wordsmithing the headline
The headline reads: "Who is Jan T. Urquhart?" This type of headline is almost always dangerous unless the person in question is a well known entity. "Who is Bill Clinton" might be safe. "Who is Roger Smith" doesn't quite have the same impact. Any time you ask a question in a headline you need to imply the answer, or you give your reader a back-door out of the page.
. . . If the reader hasn't heard of Jan T. Urquhart , then it's too easy to subconsciously answer the question "I don't know" or worse yet, "I don't care!"
. . . Instead, if you use a question make sure the reader can only answer with the response YOU want them to -- or pick a headline that the readers curiosity and makes them read on.
"She touches the world of quilts" or better yet, a combination head/subhead:

Jan T.Urquhart friend and mentor to quilters around the world,
"It's more than needles and thread!"

Wordsmithing is very important. What you say in the first second will determine whether or not the reader sticks around. Write it carefully. Read it out loud. Have someone else read it to you!
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