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Winner - November 2010 at

Web Design
Web Presence
CIO Services

First Impression: Artistic Flair

The splash page

Artistic flair and creativity jump out at you the first time you visit this site.  It's very important to understand the first impression you make and build on it throughout the website.  A positive user experience depends on not disappointing the visitor.


Design for Purpose - Artistic flair is sometimes the most important thing for a website.  An artist is an artist, but sometimes art and business collide.  This website is completely Flash, which can be great for animation but not for search engines.  If a website is intended to be an online catalog and not expected to attract new customers, then be artistic.   Although Google is doing better at reading Flash sites, Flash will cause the search engines to completely ignore your website.

The Details: Splash and Flash make you invisible

After the Splash
Victoria Cioffi website

An image requiring a user to click for entry, also called a splash page, is a sort of security guard.  It appears to be a nice way to make a first impression, but it can prevent a search engine from seeing anything else on the website and usually frustrates repeat visitors.

Because the entire website is Flash, there is no page structure.   There is no way for a user to quickly navigate in the site, save a link to a specific page or picture.  If I want to recommend the site to a friend, and want them to see a specific photo, I have to describe the steps to find it, and “count the boxes”.  

Portfolio naming

Your portfolio is full of great photographs but the presentation lacks the impact and pizzaz to show them off.  I find the naming “Portfolio 01” and “Portfolio 02” cold and uninviting, while the small squares representing the pictures give no preview or indication of the scope and quality of your work.  I find it confusing when I select Photojournalism, then Portfolio 01, the first image that displays appears to be from a wedding.  The photos need to be better organized and the portfolios renamed.  Large Spring Wedding, Intimate Winter Evening Wedding, Wine Tasting, and Wine Harvest 2009 might be better ways to name the groups.

Some type of thumbnail presentation would be easier for a prospective client to use for finding samples that show them what they want to see.  Below is an example of image display using a ‘light-box’ approach that provides thumbnail preview, individual image selection, manual navigation and slideshow.

Image display alternatives to Flash

All images copyright victoria cioffi and used by permission.  Reproduction or copying prohibited

If we were redesigning the site:

The current website is not returned in Google results for any searches primarily due to the Flash construction and the Splash page.

We would eliminate the Flash, but would be open to keeping the same layout. The flair of your current site fits your professional image and the color scheme enhances the impact of the color photographs.  Using TYPO3 we would create the same visual appearance with completely updated functionality.  A separate page for each page, with the appropriate details for navigation, search engines and a rich visitor experience. 

For example, when you click on Formal Weddings, there should be a page with one picture, probably your best wedding picture, and a short description of why you’re good at weddings.  Maybe include one testimonial there too.  From the page, link to various portfolio pages where the photos would be displayed with the light-box style.

Other pages in the website, including Photojournalism and Events, would follow the same approach.

The “About” page should talk a little more about your passion for photography and an expression of your ‘artistic’ abilities.

There are a number of other things to consider as part of a website refresh that contribute to your online image.  Your website should include a link to your Facebook page, but should not be connected to your personal page.  You might also give some thought to a twitter account.  You could use it to attract more attention to your website.

The new site wouldn't need to look much different than the current site but by changing the functionality and getting the site into a more search engine friendly tool, site exposure would be increased dramatically. 

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