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  1. #1
    Junior Member TimR's Avatar
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    Need critique/ advice for small biz artist site

    Hi all-

    I've been using Blogger to try to build my small business site. I do event caricatures, and also freelance art and illustration.

    I'm interested in any and all tips and responses, just to get an idea of things I may be missing that could help make it more appealing and user friendly.

    One thing that bugs me is that the landing page is on the blog itself, whereas I would prefer it land on one of the sub-pages that Blogger lets you include (I would prefer visitors land on the "Event Caricatures" page, but I'm not sure how to have it direct there.)

    Here is the site: TimRocksArt.com

    Thanks,
    Tim

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  3. #2
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    I'll throw out my advice, despite my lack of design skills.
    -You need an actual banner. If you can't make one, find someone who can.
    - The color choices are pretty bad. I'd keep the black background color, but I'd change that awful blue to white. It'll make the website look a little cleaner.
    -For your "About me": Wrap all of that in a <div class="aside"> and use CSS to set the tag to float:right Set height and width as needed. It'll make that part of your site look that much cleaner.
    -Clean up the links at the top of the page. They should fit in one, straight line. I don't understand the two line thing.

    Work on those things and lets see how it looks afterward.

  4. #3
    Junior Member TimR's Avatar
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    Thanks very much for your comments.

    On the banner, you think a custom logo would make it look cooler, more professional, I assume? Part of my approach to this, is to try to do something quick and dirty, so to speak, so I can spend time either with paying gigs, or working on my own art projects. Because it's easy to get sucked in to finessing things endlessly, beyond the practical value. I'm trying to learn to use my time more effectively in that sense, i.e. just try to use as much "automation" as Blogger provides.

    But if it strikes you that way, and especially if I hear that from a lot of people, then perhaps it's a place I can't cut corners.

    I know it's your opinion on the colors, but I'm curious if you can be more specific so I understand what you're seeing -- Is the blue too strong, glaring, harsh? Or doesn't work with black? Something like that, or something else?

    I agree the sidebar could be cleaner, will try to work on that. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Blogger, but it has its own special code under the hood... Because it's a Content Management System, I guess. And it uses these "templates" for every page. Anyway, all that by way of saying, I'm not sure that CSS tag is the best way to tackle the sidebar, because I think in their code, they will already have a name for that "Widget" (as they call it), so I could set the float:right property using that pre-existing tag.

    Maybe. I'm no expert, so feel free anyone to correct me about the best technique when using Blogger.

    The two-line thing is not my preference per se, I just let Blogger's automated template have its way with the menu bar. Maybe I can find a place to change the font size, and see if they end up on one line.

  5. #4
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    I'm not familiar with Blogger, but it sounds like the majority of my complaints are there simply because it's being run through Blogger.

  6. #5
    Senior Member Vapr_Arts's Avatar
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    Maniac that sounds about right.. It may work somehow as a business site but reality is your building it from something designed to make blogs. Not sites. Why did u chose to use blogger? Were u already using it as a blog prior to wanting a site made? Is it the "easiest" for you?


    Regretfully sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk during lunch and other breaks

  7. #6
    Junior Member TimR's Avatar
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    Well yes Vapr_Arts, I already had another blog (TimRocksComics.blogspot.com) thru Blogger, so I was familiar/ comfortable with the basics of their interface.

    Then I came across a tutorial site for Blogger, run by a custom web design firm, that opened my eyes that Blogger was more flexible than I realized. Based on their portfolio pieces:

    Blogger Xpertise: portfolio

    And also they have a page where they weigh pros and cons of Blogger vs. Wordpress that I found persuasive, at least as far as my aims and objectives:

    10 reasons recommending Blogger over Wordpress for most websites : Blogger Xpertise

    As far as it being a blogging platform --- yes, I agree, but I can't find any web hosting sites that offer the same benefits: for one thing Blogger is free, and I'm a micro business so that's critical to me. All the web hosts seem to insist on including ads or other negatives on their "free" offers.

    If there are better ways, I'm happy to learn.. This is just the best I could come up with based on my limited time/ knowledge/ budget.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Vapr_Arts's Avatar
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    Im not saying it cant work. Im just saying you are having problems because you are trying to do more than it can. Its roughly $8/month for my hosting.. $15 a year for the domain. I dont even have it public yet (its my private projects/sand box sort of thing. I use it to learn and thats about it. The reason im telling you this is because honestly its a small investment and you would be doing more than i am. If you are really trying to make a business site i assume you will be trying to make money.


    Regretfully sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk during lunch and other breaks

  9. #8
    Junior Member TimR's Avatar
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    Okay, but would I not have similar problems if I use their built-in hosting tools? I was (am) looking for an option that's somewhat "out of the box," where I don't have to try to do too much HTML or CSS myself (which I only know at an amateur level.)

    That portfolio site I linked to, according to those guys they set those sites up for real businesses, that make money; and once it's set up, I imagine the small business can use Blogger's interface to update things, without going into the code. That's what I'm trying to set up.

    $8/mth is only worth it if I can figure out the clear benefit. You might be right, I'm just not seeing myself where the clear advantage is. Apparently people *can* make beautiful sites with Blogger (and I only need one that's passable, I'm assuming most customers just want something functional and inoffensive.)

  10. #9
    Senior Member Vapr_Arts's Avatar
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    Ok now heres my opinion and how i see it.

    Is "passable" really ok for you?

    Or better yet, do you really think thats what your clients want? In a job field where we are paid for our creativity are you sure they just want something functional and inoffensive? Maybe that is what your clients want. I dont really know ur target market.

    Passable to me is not what i want my work seen as. I want to be seen as going above and beyond. Your site in my opinion is an extension of your portfolio. Even if you dont code it yourself. The site WILL be seen as part of your image and what your work will resemble.

    Scenario: Client is debating over you and another illustrator. His work is at the same level or maybe even a little less than your work. They MAY use your site as a deciding factor.

    Thats just how i think. Id rather prepare for those types of situations even if it never actually happens. Because if it DOES ever happen ill be ready for it.


    Regretfully sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk during lunch and other breaks

  11. #10
    Junior Member TimR's Avatar
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    It's a fair point, I just have limited time. If I have to spend all my time learning the quirks of HTML/ CSS / Blogger (or whatever platform), when do I work on the comic books I really want to focus on? For that I have to master writing, art, design --- using the specific tools of that trade. The caricatures and illustration is just to support that ultimate goal. I'm not 10 people, you know? I have to prioritize, and a beautiful website takes a backseat to writing and drawing comics. Maybe if my illustration and such made more money, I could hire people to do the website... Now, would a beautiful website mean that I'd make more money, and then I could afford to buy a beautiful website? Perhaps, but that's sort of a Catch-22 there...


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