Fine Art America is the world's most powerful sales and marketing tool for photographers and visual artists.
Simply open an account, upload your images, set your prices for all our available products, and you're instantly in business! FAA provides you with an e-commerce website, fulfills your orders for you, and sends you your profits each month.
Sean has built (i.e., coded) an excellent site here, especially the features that are included for the artist to market their work. But as good as anything is, nothing is perfect. Nothing on the web is ever really complete, as it can always be improved upon.
This is a site with members of very creative people, many of which I'm humbled by. I've been a member for years and the site still looks the same.
Am I the only individual who thinks the site has become visually stale? I have spoken with Sean before about it and he feels it's fine. I know others who have brought it up with Sean, too, and received similar responses.
No, this is not my site. It belongs to Sean. But if it weren't for the artists supporting this site, Sean would still be at his old day job. I read recently that this is a five-million-dollar company with just three employees.
I visit the home page and the top banner has been showing the same three pieces of art for years. Sean excels in writing code, and that's great, but the site coud really use a major facelift. I believe it should have more of a gallery look, since that is what it is.
Just to reiterate, I think Sean is a genius at developing a site, and this site attests to that. But he is not an experienced graphic designer.
I think deviantART.com (a site that has limited selling options) has an excellent UI. They even listen to their members on what needs to make the site better, and they inform their members what changes or additions are on the list. And if you check-out http://deviantART make note they have 25-million active users with 245-million pieces of art (lots more than FAA). deviantART is not a competitor of FFA, but it shows a unity between the developers, designers, and their members.
I could have made this post shorter but I didn't have enough time. ;o)
Honestly, I do not see this as an issue. I don't care that the website looks consistently the same. Consistency in some things is good.
We breathe the same old chemical combinations of gases every single day. Life depends on this sameness.
In a market place, consistency of appearance is what consistently draws people back to what they are familiar with. For example, I hate going to the grocery store, seeing that things are all changed around, forcing me to waste my time rediscovering where they are now located.
Again, this is such a non-issue, from my perspective.
We're artists. This shouldn't be a point of contention. Great companies recognize that great design leads to differentiation, customer loyalty and higher profits (think Apple).
Think how swiftly and strongly a design experience shapes our opinion of that brand, company or store, for good or bad. People know quickly when a website is bad — even if they can't articulate what's wrong. And they associate that feeling of frustration and/or disappointment with that brand.
While I agree it has a dated feel, I agree with Robert that it's a non-issue. Look at Redbubble, every time the wind blows, there's a new 'wonderful' look and just as predictably everyone that uses it on a regular basis complains that the changes have broken they way they used the site before. I was on deviantArt years ago as well. And while I'm not per se change adverse, their constant changes was one of the things that turned me off. Change for the sake of change rarely seems to be well-thought-through.
In fact, the shopping cart part of the site might be better somewhat dated. There are plenty of people buying art who are not technical whizzes and every additional bit of complexity will send a few more running rather than completing a purchase.
I am a graphic designer and a damn good one if I ask myself.:) The problem here isn't how this site looks but how easy it is to locate things, post images, maintain an accounting for yourself and generally organizing your pages so they are easy to find on the great information highway. Not only does Sean have to accomplish this, he has to make it easy to understand in every different language in the world.
As far as I'm concerned, Sean has done one hell of a job accomplishing all of this and making it the most successful site for artists in the world. Soooo what's not to like?
you don't want it too modern. many sites make that mistake and ruin their site because of flashy graphics and incompatibility to many people. if it's not broken, don't fix it.
i hate what red bubble did with the site. they created a new veneer but never corrected stuff that really needed it. i find deviant art kind of confusing to use and don't go there all that often. i didn't like the thought of accidentally letting my large image for sale - really be set up for downloading.
there are certain things that could use work, like the search, if we aren't changing the order, then how about plurals? that would give me words. but the interface isn't that bad. like look at zazzle, you can't edit something after it's been made.
Really at the end of the day, for us, is when we do sell our work, we know with confidence it will be tip top for the buyer. FAA has it down on the end result, compared to others. This is my mind set, this is what is important to me.
I am going to put my 2 cents in here. I was going to post a topic but this seems as good of a place as any.
I think the look of the site is fine. It still attracts buyers and sellers. No one likes cookie cutters and that is where he would go with it. I love this site and want to be sure to say that first! However, I do have an issue with the search function and how the artists can get noticed. To me it seems as if the search function is totally random. You can click on a photo or painting and it will have not one keyword that you put in the search. It will have just a few votes, and minimal if no description. How can this be? You can do all the marketing in the world but if a buyer types in a specific keyword and your art is no where to be found it is not working for you.
Today I typed in the keyword nautical. I have several of my photos with that keyword. I went through 20 pages of pictures. I found one that had the keyword nautical. Of course mine were nowhere to be found.
I then typed in the word beach. Many of my photos have titles and keywords "beach". I went 25 pages deep and again no where to be found and very few with the keywords beach.
So I think if anything needs to be fixed it is not the look of the site, but the functionality not only for the seller but for the buyer.
If I am wrong and the search works the way SEO should then someone by all means please explain.
I agree that there are (what I consider) major feature issues on FAA, and that's certainly Sean's domain. Such as matting a print. I mat all my prints with about 15-20% of extra mat on the bottom. Can't do that on FAA. But, the company that fulfills FAA's print orders offers sizing options, for all sides, on their site. I spoke with Sean years ago about that, and he told me that no one does that anymore, and that all mat sides are equal. Because of that, I buy my my mats and frames directly.
But he can afford a creative team that doesn't get you lost, but provides a "fresh" look. A creative team doesn't change the functionality, just the look. Just like those three images on the home page that have been there for years. I consulted with the Federal Government and Fortune 500 companies on the user interfaces (UI) of their sites, while the coders were in another room making it all happen. That's the way it works in the real world. I've been building sites (design and development) since 1995. Coding has changed dramatically over the years, with HTML5 just around the corner. But design is what we look at.
Hal, couldn't agree more with your expert opinion. Yes, it works..........for the Artists, but maybe for the buyers there's room for a dazzlingly simpler purchase,etc,system.....no complaints from me though.
I think some of you are looking at this too much as designers and not enough as users. I doubt that people are attracted here by the appearance of the website. I think they are attracted here because they might be searching for something, and they want to find this something that attracts their eyes. They are NOT looking for a website page design; they are looking for something else that a website page design functions to allow them to find.
The art on the website is the pretty part. The process of finding it is the functional part.
In brochure and advertising design, I have seen designers get all artsy and conceptual about the appearance, to the point of creating a dysfunctional piece, just because it was all about them and not about the people who actually had to use it consistently - users with zero familiarity with the creative elements of the design, who really could care less about the design, only caring about the content that the design can deliver consistently, clearly, and efficiently.
This is such a small blip.
These sites are changing every second.
When FAA started and what it is now is so very different, and tomorrow it will look different again.
A small blip in the history, and not deeply defining.
I cannot accept the internet definition of fine art.
stolen art is not coveted. Cheap easily had, is not coveted.
How is this not anything more than easy fodder for Amazon or Walmart.
I don't even get it. I thought China had that market wrapped up.
While a well-thought out update wouldn't bother me, it's just not something I'm clamoring for. And all evidence suggests that business is good. As for the feeling buyers are "turned off" by the look and feel of the site, only Sean could tell you if there's truth to that, i.e. looking a the website stats to see how many users enter the site and abandon it after visiting only a page or two. It's hardly conclusive evidence, but no one I've personally directed to my shop here has reported back that they had any issues making their purchases.
On the matting/framing issue, I'm surprised how many people order with mats/frames, etc. It runs counter to my own feelings on the matter. For whatever reason, I'm perfectly willing to order a print online sight unseen, but I can't imagine choosing the framing materials, etc. based on what I see on a screen. I need to see the materials for myself for the mat and frame. The fact many order framed tells me I'm not with the majority here.
Mark: FAA's print supplier is probably one of the best PODs in the country. Stick with a white mat and black frame and you'll have no problems. ;o)
This is a very popular discussion with 140 responses. In order to help the page load faster and allow you to quickly read the most recent posts, we're only showing you the oldest 25 posts and the newest 25 posts. Everything in the middle has been skipped. Want to read the entire discussion? No problem: click here.
Lar, you are excused in your ignorance of my background.
I was a math major for two years in college. I also studied physics in college, as well as engineering math at a state tech university.
As for redundancy, I merely pointed to its effective use here, NOT to its EXCLUSIVE use barring all else anywhere, anytime. You misrepresent my comments, when you FORCE oversimplified generalizations onto a specific comment about a specific webpage in a specific discussion of that specific webpage.
Just curious, what would lead you to the suspicion that I am not design oriented? To create intelligible art, a person, at the least, has to be design oriented. To write intelligent commentary, a person has to be design oriented. To live an effective existence, a person has to be design oriented.
Read about critiquing websites - what the DESIGN ORIENTED experts say about website functionality over bells and whistles.
And if you acknowledge technical problems, then perhaps you might acknowledge that THESE deserve the focus first, NOT the appearance, which should serve to deliver the content with a minimum of those problems.
"… perhaps you might acknowledge that THESE deserve the focus first, NOT the appearance …"
This is where you are ignorant, sir. I consulted the Federal Government and Fortune 500 companies on their web initiatives, specifically on content management and user interface. UI and coding are done simultaneously.
So, to be fair, I retract my request to be excused. ;o)
Judy, it well may be that Lar is right when saying that Deviant is easier to use. I have my page there. When I visited my page more often, the site recognised me automaticaly, allowing me stright into my account or artwork pages, I had no need to login, to wright my password somewhere. So may be we can say that Deviant is more user friendly then FAA, meaning that a member of Deviant should make less clicks to go wherever he wants on that site. It doesn't make that site more secure though. I've found a report about some serious, distractive hacker attack on that site in 2011 and some virus disaster seems to continue there, as my experience shows.
Now, (as I have reinstalled WINDOWS), Deviant does not recognise me any more, and I am glad that it doesn't. I forgot my password and do not want to use that site any more. As for the chidish look and poor design of that site - it is a matter of test, but I tend to agree - you are right. Unfortunately, it had not scared me out of that site from the very begginning. However I still think that the appearance of a site home page does not matter too much, the appearance alone can hardly attract or scare out possible member or buyer.
Robert, you're not design-oriented. That's not a character flaw or anything, and it doesn't preclude you from giving your opinion, but it does disqualify you from any meaningful debate about design.
Would you select the next cover girl for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition based on SPECS? ("Boss, she's got two eyes, weighs less than 120lbs...") Hell no! Because attractiveness and great design don't work like that :-)
Well, Dan and Lar, I would love to know how you might define "design-oriented". I have been a teacher, choreographer, writer, and other things that require a strong design sense. I have written a couple of computer programs, written a few websites (both straight code and templates), published articles in professional journals that had high design standards, and designed a business plan or two. And let's not forget the plans I made for creating some of my paintings, or setting up my camera for making images of fluids that I designed to flow within a given fluid dynamics environment. Or even planning for efficient work flow in my successful social event work. Yep, I'm a real design dumb, dumb, no clue whatsoever, ... an abomination to intelligent discussion of such issues. I bow in the presence of your superior feel for such subjects.
I would select the next cover girl for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition based on the following SPECS:
- facial symmetry
- skin smoothness and clarity
- cup size
- bodily proportions in relation to cup size
- flexibility and ability to move gracefully
- and the IT factor that requires measures BEYOND numbers.
OR to boil it all down to one SPEC: Is she hot or not. (^_^) Is that the sort of design judgement you're looking for?
[Ooo, I don't like the color. I don't like the look. I want more visual stimulation, a more modern appearance, etc., etc, etc. Brandford, dahling, this simply does not work. Take it away. It is hideous. Bring me something I can adore. - Yes, madam.]
Ever had any instruction in graphic design, Robert?
EDIT: the Website Review Procedure site you referenced is extremely outdated. They cite Microsoft Frontpage for building sites (discontinued 10 years ago) and Netscape and WebTV as "popular browsers." And LOOK at that page! Is that attractive to you?
Have I ever enrolled in an official course called "graphic design"? No. Have you ever had any instruction in composing replies in artist discussion forums? There are lots of things we do that are self initiated, and I get the sense that you are trying to use the old "if you are not a certified expert, then you have no right to speak" argument to disable my credibility.
Do most people who conceive children ever have any instruction in raising children? Ever take a formal class in how to eat properly? Actually, I HAVE done that, but the point is most people do not, and yet quite a few people master the art of practicing good eating habits (sadly, many do not).
And,yes, that website is a tad outdated in exact information, but its basic premise still seems quite on target - CONTENT is king. To answer your question about that page's attractiveness - I did NOT go there looking for a visually stunning design; I went there for textual informational content.
[Let's see, what color shall we make the homepage today? What picture shall we put up today to insure that our target audience will not be visually bored?]
How do people arrive at FAA? Do they leave immediately because it lacks visual snap? I can see it now, somebody does a Google search on the visually boring Google site, only to arrive at a website that uses the color blue and has no spiffy pictures immediately upfront to go with all that useful information that ultimately leads to some of the spiffiest visuals ever.
I am a gun designer, but I am not Kalashnikov. No one ever offered me to be. Can I say that I have a better education now then Kalshnikov had in 1947? I can. Can I express my own opinion about AK47 storm rifle? I can. Almost everyone has his own opinion about that gun nawadays and many are better educated then Kalashnikov was in 1947. What does it proof, what can we make out of our educated opinions? Nothing. They just do not need another basic army weapon currently anyway.
FAA was created and is owned solely by Sean, no one other. Have not heard that he was going to change FAA design either...
Feel what I mean?
P.S And should I know all that designer theory about girls, which you study in USA, before having my own opinion or feelings about a girl in Russia? Never thought that american education could be THAT important!!! Imagine - Ignorant Russians love girls here no less then anywhere else without that theory!
Dan, surely you are insightful enough to realize that popularity is linked to effective delivery of content, and effective delivery of content is directly related to the look or design that enables people to get at what they are looking for. The popularity of the website, thus, tells me that SOMEthing about the look MUST be right to keep those numbers as they are.
And those supposedly unattractive popular girls you mention are indeed attractive in some other respect than the superficial beauty that you seem to be focused on. They have a deeper LOOK, so to speak, which is a dynamic or a functionality that is equally or MORE attractive than the look alone.
Now Lar mentioned websites of Fortune 500 companies. Let's have a look at a few of those:
Royal Dutch Shell Rank: 1 (Previous rank: 2)
CEO: Peter R. Voser
Address: Carel van Bylandtlaan 30
The Hague, 2596
- first time loading the website took forever
- homepage had an active slide show running at top of page, which might explain the long load time
ExxonMobil Rank: 2 (Previous rank: 3)
CEO: Rex W. Tillerson
Address: 5959 Las Colinas Blvd.
Irving, Texas 75039
- Nothing really visually stunning here, just good basic organization of navigation bar, fonts
and page arrangement to help guide viewers to relevant content (i.e., information)
- Also, the color blue dominates.
Wal-Mart Stores Rank: 3 (Previous rank: 1)
CEO: Michael T. Duke
Address: 702 S.W. Eighth St.
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716
- Homepage loads very fast, even with an active slide show going at the top (excellent coding, I suppose),
which really is a bit distracting to me, but clean font in bold navigation bar serves well to direct viewers to relevant content.
- Also, the color BLUE seems to be quite dominant.
Toyota Motor Rank: 10 (Previous rank: 8)
CEO: Akio Toyoda
Address: 1 Toyota-cho
- Again, a flash slide show is at the very top of the page,
which I find distracting when looking for information. But the navigation
bar is very good in terms of location, visibility, font size, and readability.
- Also, the overriding color feel seems to be towards cool.
I believe you took your "blue is the most popular color" out of context. In the same survey, "white was the least popular color," and that's what we coud use more of. So that survey is moot. And on top of that, no one, at least not I, said anything about the colors being used. That's not what this thread is about. In reality, the basic core of this thread is about communication, an issue that is grappled with universally.
I believe you are wrong. I noted another source besides myself claiming the color, "blue" as the world's favorite color, thus substantiating my earlier claim. You cannot deny this single observation based on a second observation about white. The survey is NOT moot, because you wish to say it is. How is it moot, when somebody discovers that a huge number of people like the color blue? If the survey is moot, then your point about the color. "white", is equally moot. YOU might not have said anything about colors, but SOMEbody did in THIS thread, and I am addressing this particular point in my last post.
Someone here complained about the "blue" on the FAA website, and I tried to justify it as a color of universal appeal, which I think that I have taken steps to support.
And this thread is about color, communication, clarity, composition, content, consistency and other measures of design success.
First, you wanted to talk about design. Now you want to focus on communication. The two are related, you certainly realize, so merely separating the ideas to make one sentence stand out, as opposed to another, really shows no separation of the two ideas. Again, the subject is design, and as ignorant of this as you might think I might be, communication is PART of design, as is color and the other aspects I already mentioned.
Google uses lots of white, which some people might call "negative space". It's a good basic background color, for sure.
I agree with you that entire survey of color is moot in this venue. I like blue, too, but I stick with neutral colors. Walk into most galleries and they use white for their walls, and other neutral colors.
"Design" as in UI, functionality, look and feel. How do we get our ideas heard without communication?
To make any kind of change, communication is at the core, as if we do not communicate our opinions, we are basically unnecessary. I may not have used the word "communication" in the OP, but it is referred to extensively in the OP and beyond. This is getting ridiculous, and I bet your next comment will include this statement (then again, I bet it won't since I mentioned it).
I still do not understand why you would call a color survey "moot" here. Is the weather report moot? It is a forecast. It is an indication that is useful. You might have a conflict with it, but this does not render it moot. All this says to me is that you refuse to acknowledge the possibility that it might be useful, ... from a practical standpoint.
Color seems definitely relevant in a discussion about design. It is, in fact, sometimes the overriding concern in design. It is, thus, NOT moot to entertain people's likes and dislikes of certain colors.
You opened a discussion about the "look" of FAA, which I take to mean the "design" of FAA. I shared some ideas and differences of opinion. This is what individuals with differing viewpoints do. This is the process of communication, and like all creative processes, it can get a little untidy sometimes. You are an artist, and I am confident that you have and can handle it. And I still think that we will find points of agreement in other discussions.
Robert, you're finding this rough going because you don't speak the language of design. And you're not fooling people who do.
Similar to walking into a room full of musicians when you're not a musician — and wanting them to think that you are. You may be a major fan, know the words to every song and own 30,000 mp3s. But if you don't know basic chord structures, don't know the difference between swing and a shuffle, can't discuss 6/8 time, can't play an instrument, etc, it's not possible to bluff your way through.
I agree that the look of this site is very outdated and cluttered. I vote for change, especially where the presentation of our photos/images/paintings are concerned. I hate white surrounding my photos... would much prefer an image to be on neutral gray or black when viewing.
I don't see a problem with the design of FAA itself but it's the artist's websites that need a bit more flexibility in personalisation, even if they are just used for checkout. There has to be a symbiosis between the visual and technical design and on a large and heavy traffic site as FAA the technical is primary to the visual, form follows function. Either way, the best design is the one that's invisible but is everywhere felt. I've been making my own site for print sales, there's still some stuff to tweak, but I like an as clean design as possible :
there are things that could be changed in the site to make it more user friendly, this is true. if it wasn't there wouldn't be the same questions by new people about how to use the site. the background should be white because any other color would taint the image. however i would look at the basic heart of the place like search and things like that before changing what the background looks like.
white is the best thing to use, it's easier to read text, it's actually easier on the eyes then any other shade or color. even on gray, though too much of it can hurt the eyes. gray shouldn't be used because not all screens cast a clean shade of it, often it's tinted one way or the other, where as white is usually not as noticeable. why does this matter? it matters because the background tint can fool the eye into thinking something else. and the image won't look as good next to it.
...you're finding this rough going because you don't speak the language of design...
Lar, Dan, it is a brilliant idea, thank you!!! Next time I'll start a general thread and then tell anyone, who disagrees with me, shut up, because he can not understand anything, he can not even speak Russian. On the other hand, why to take pains writing here in English, which I do badly, while I can write in Russian? Beth is going to have problems censoring my writings!!!
Dan and I agree on some things, but certainly not all. Please don't attribute a quote to me that is not mine. You are correct, I do not speak Russian, though through bloodlines, I'm half Russian (Lithuanian). I studied Spanish and Latin. As I assume that English is your second language, yet I could not tell by your writing.
I believe the thread has gotten a bit too granular. I think we should still be up at 30,000 feet, looking down at the big picture still. Most people agree that the background should be a neutral color, such as white, gray, or black. I personally think it should remain white, even though my AW pages are black to match my personal web site.
I had no idea this thread would be so popular, yet so diverse. As I said before, my choice of words in the OP was probably not the best. The word "design" does not relate only to graphic design. In the survey Robert quoted, blue is the world's favorite color, but in the exact same survey, white is the least favorite color. That's why I called it moot, and it's also way too granular at this point in time. My use of the word "design" is more concerning the layout of the pages, functionality, which includes navigation.
What I didn't include were the problems associated with the site. People have mentioned the malware warnings (which I've had on one of my own sites, and found no malware), search results, etc. That itself could make another good thread.
But I believe, as the OP, that we are beginning to run in circles and it is getting a bit adversarial, which will accomplish nothing at all. And I hold some of that guilt, and potentially the majority of it (it is my post ;). I'm beginning to think that this thread has found an ending point as it is now, since I'm getting dizzy.
So can we wind this up and with some sort of an agreement on things, looking at the big picture?
After spending my whole career as a Certified Project Manager (PMP) and Sr. IT Manager responsible for system development and integration I will say that the last thing a developer of any site that is supported by users, especially paying, would do is not listen to what they have to say. People using a system want their input noted. They should act a Beta testers for new rollouts, brainstorm new ideas,etc. A good example of not doing this is Facebook. Facebook makes changes and jams them down your throat and then deals with the fallout. In the end this could be a huge issue for them as they begin to be challenged by other Social Media concerns.
Don't get me wrong, FAA is a good site and Sean and his team have done a great job but bottom line - listen to what your users are saying Sean.