Month: January 2016

Web design for artists (Part I)

Artwork by Farida EL Gazzar
Artwork by Farida EL Gazzar

Web design for artists is a lot of fun. In this job you get to meet lots of people who do many different things, from bakers to tour agencies to fat loss pill manufacturers to piano tuners.  This is especially true here in Barcelona, where everyone is doing everything. However, creating a website for an artist is at the same time a humbling and tremendously exciting experience. You realize right away that web design is a craft, not an art, that first moment you enter a studio.

Web Design for ArtistsDesign-wise, you teach yourself to keep yourself out of the way. You don’t want the website viewer to say, “What a great website!” you want the user to say, “What great works of art!” That’s not to say you should just make a white website with no design. Doing that could get you a, “What great works of art, too bad the web site is horrible.”

You need the website design to be as simple as possible yet at the same time accent the work and have a concise UI to make sure the paths the artists wants the user to take, are taken. Here is what I consider the main things to pay extra care about when thinking about web design for artists.

IMAGES

The images must be perfect. Only top quality photos can be used. Unless you are also a photographer, I suggest you hire one. You need to have the lighting and white balance perfect. The framing might actually be easy in many cases but only go for it if you have very tight technical skills and very good equipment.

In addition, you need to consider the photo layout. That is where your personal style comes in. Personally, I prefer large thumbnails to go with a large images. The bigger the better. I put the descriptions right on the large images.

STRUCTURE  

There are certain elements a website for an artist must have, and these are:

BIO: The artist’s story told by someone else. This does not differ from most other personal websites.

ARTIST STATEMENT: This is the artist in his or her own words. This is where the artist can explain the art. A place to explain and support his work. For people in the art world, this is obvious, but for us designers, it is good to know this beforehand.

GALLERY: The reason the website exists, the gallery. What you have to think about is how you will structure the gallery. Will it be done by theme? By type of work (painting, sculpture etc)? Chronologically? All three? There is no right answer, but whatever you choose , pay extra care to have it follow a logical order.

EXHIBITIONS:  Where has the artist’s work been featured? List the galleries, provide as many links as you can. Highlight a special event that is important to the artist.

PRESS: If anything has been written about him, include it here.

CONTACT: A standard contact for is all you really need.

Read the continuation about web design for artists, I will get into how to deal with helping sell the artwork and how to deal with social media (it’s not as straightforward as it sounds).

 

 

 

Twitter API and Twitter Secret – How to get them

If you want to add a twitter feed to your WordPress site you will need what is called the Consumer Key (or Twitter API key) and the Consumer Secret (Twitter API Secret). This isn’t hard to do, just follow these easy steps:

1. Go to https://apps.twitter.com/app/new (you might need to sign in with your usual Twitter login and password).

2. Fill out the form with your details and submit it. I recommend you give it a memorable name such as “twitterFeedMyCompanyName” so that you remember what it is in the future.

Twitter API

3. Go to the “Keys and Access Tokens” tab.

4. Copy and paste the keys into your twitter feed widget.

Twitter API and Secret

There you have it, your feed should be working now.

 

Multilingual websites – Best Practices

A Multilingual website is a must for anyone who wants their message to reach people who live in other countries and/or speak different languages.  Learning best practices for multilingual websites is even more important here in Barcelona considering that having a trilingual site is often needed.  There are certain things to consider when making multilingual site such as the directory structure, how to index your site correctly for search engine crawlers, and certain things you must avoid.  Also, you may be a great English content writer and speak Spanish very well, but are you also a good Spanish content writer?  There are many local content writers and I highly recommend Enredame if you think you need a hand.

TYPES OF MULTILINGUAL SITES

Case A  You have two different pages and on each page there is completely different content.

Case B  You translate the main parts of the page such as the menu, footer and perhaps the wide widgets.  The main content remains in the original language. An example of this would be an e-shop selling shoes and a customer leaves a review.  When viewed on the page with a different language the customer’s review would remain in the original language.

Case C Pages that are almost identical but include regional differences.  An example is THIS site I created which displays British English vs. American English depending on where the page viewer is located.

 

STURCTURING YOUR MULTILINGUAL WEBSITES URLs

You have several options in terms of how your multilingual websites will be structured, each having their advantages and disadvantages depending on how much time and money you wish to spend.  For a business that either has webmaster or the resources to hire outside help, several Country Code top level Domains (ccTLDs) is the best option, for all others the choice is up to them.

 

StructureExampleProsCons
ccTLDs

Country Code top Level Domain

www.boats.com

www.boats.es

Clear targeting.

Easy to separate sites

 

Expensive to register and maintain separate sites

Involves more coding since you are creating multiple websites and not simply translating parts of a site.

 

gTLDS

Generic Top Level Domains with Subdomains

Es.boats.com 

Easy to setup

Use Webmaster tools to target region

Easy to separate Sites Can use different server location.

 

May involve more maintenance than Domains with subdirectories if site installed over many servers
gTLDS

Generic Top Level Domains with Subdirectories

www.boats.com/en

www.boats.com/es

 

Easy to setup

Use Webmaster tools to target region

Easy to separate Sites

Low maintenance due to being on same host

 

Single server location


INDEXING YOUR MULTILINGUAL WEBSITES

If you’re going to localize, the best practice for multilingual websites are to make them easy for Googlebot to crawl all language versions of your site. You should have cross links to each page in different languages.  In other words, the page http://www.boats.com/prices.html should have a link to http://es.boats.com/precios.html. This way an English speaking user who lands on the Spanish page is only a click away from the same one in English.

MARKUP

This is the markup you would have to include in the HTML of each of these pages to inform Google that they all concern the same thing and that they are NOT duplicates of each other.

In the example above the first line is the main page, a non-language dependent page, for example a page in which the user choses which language he wishes to view the site in.

The second line indicates that you want to return  http://www.boats.com/page.html to be found by people searing in google.com.

The third line indicates that you want to return http://es.example.com/pagina.html when users search though google.es and the fourth that you want http://cat.example.com/pagina.html for users using google.cat.

 

DO NOT

Duplicate content

Just don’t do it.  It will interpreted as spam and you site will be punished.  Make sure you have included the hreflang tags in each page.

Auto translate

It may seem obvious, but it is not recommended to allow automatically translated to be indexed. The whole idea of having a multilingual website is to connect with users of different languages.  If you don’t have the translation of a page, leave it in English and if the user wants, they can paste it into a translation program.   Don’t run the risk of the user thinking you are a horrible writer.

Conclusion

Making multilingual websites is not easy, however, if you have general web design knowledge and gusto, you can create one.  As always, my company, Winzyweb, is always here to help you out.

 

 

Website Maintenance – Do it yourself

Website maintenance is something you have to do.  You can do it on your own or hire someone. Many of the steps are easy to follow and if some are too difficult we can help. Get in touch with us and we’ll offer you an economical website maintenance solution.  Gone are the days of €400 fees, for much less you can rest easy about your website.

BEFORE YOU DO ANY WEBSITE MAINTENANCE:

You must backup your site. I can’ stress this enough.  Backup EVERYTHING.  Backup your database, backup your your pages and posts, backup your themes, backup all your media.  Things sometimes go wrong, you need that kind of stress.

Be a stranger – look at your page from the outside. Don’t enter your dashboard, don’t login. Open a private window (Firefox) or incognito window (Chrome) and type in your site’s url. Browse through your site as a visitor would. Note things you like and dislike.
Update your plugins, update WordPress. Now you can enter your dashboard. Check for updates. There will be a number in a circle next to the updates heading. Update your plugins and possibly your WP version. I can’t stress how important it is to have followed the backup procedures before doing this.Website maintenance image
Broken Links – Go through all the links on your page. Broken links are a sign of a neglected website. Search engines will punish you for that. If you have lots of content you can use a plugin to help you find all the broken links. The Broken Link Checker plugin is a good one. To avoid burdening your site and slowing your webpage, simply activate it when needed and shut it off when done.
We all love plugins – I know people who would install a plug that looks for plugins. Though they are one of the things that makes WordPress great, they also burden our websites. When preforming maintenance make sure that all the plugins you have are essential to your website. Ask yourself whether you still need that Santa Gif Generator plugin you downloaded in 2009.
Themes – Get rid of themes you don’t need. It is best to stick with one theme and only change it occasionally when you want to change your site’s look. No need to load your website with many themes. Have you ever noticed a plugin that you swear you never installed?  Chances are that the last theme you installed added it to your site.
Spam – Get rid of all the spam you have received. Delete it permanently. Straightforward stuff.
Update your content – Re-read your posts and pages.  Do you need to add anything new? Is there something you missed? Something that you have written that is irrelevant now?
Check your website stats – Look at the traffic of your website.  How has it evolved since the last time you looked?  Are you getting more hit? more or less inbound links, and whom who? Be sure that the links you receive are from reputable sources.

If you follow these steps every couple of weeks you can be assured that your webpage will run smoothly and keeps its freshness.  Some of the tasks, such as updating content, might have to be done more frequently, especially if you own a commerce site or have a blog.  The rest can done about twice a month or even monthly.

Should you do this on your own?

If you enjoy this type of work and have the time and energy there is no reason why you shouldn’t.  If you are a business owner, you might not want to allocate your time to reading about CSS, WordPress and databases in order to then perform website maintenance.  You might want to use the time to focus on other aspects of your work.

Here at Winzyweb we can take of all of that for you, maintenance packages for a mid-sized website start at about 25€(30$)/month.  Contact us to find out how we can keep you website running smoothly and safely, or if you would like some advice just leave a message in our comments section.

 

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