Artist Takes Charge of Website, Creates Masterpiece

Art in the Afternoon (fish in the morning)

Naima Rauam’s latest version of her gallery website
(click for full-size)

Many years ago, we started working with Naima Rauam, chronicler of the Fulton Fish Market and Lower Manhattan, on her web presence. Naima is an artist, not a web coder, but with Adobe Contribute, a little help, and a lot of moxy, she’s been updating Art in the Afternoon (fish in the morning) herself since we helped her get set up.

In December 2011, we wrote a piece about her last version, extolling the virtues of simplicity and letting the art speak for itself. However, a month later, Naima held a show and watched people interact with her art and with her.

She noticed that people gravitated either to the originals (watercolors, oils, charcoals) or to prints, depending on whether they wanted or could afford original art. They weren’t as interested in the topics — the fish market, airplanes, etc.

Unfortunately, this didn’t match the website’s structure, which was based on topics:

Old home page

Old home page for Art in the Afternoon
(click for full-size)

She also enjoyed talking with potential customers and getting their ideas and thoughts about the art, but she noticed that her current site didn’t really engage people that way, or at all. So, time for a change!

Changing the Home Page

Did we make any suggestions? A few, about changing the size and color of the links and the amount of information she should add to the gallery pages (see below).

However, the best ideas were hers. For example, instead of just creating links, she made three little headshots for the three options at the top: About the Artist, Talking About Art, and Shows, Events, News (Talking About Art is really fun). She also wrote the “welcome” section at the top and personally invited people to check out her galleries.

Home thumbnails

Thumbnails and welcoming text on the new home page
(click for full-size)

Changing the Secondary Pages

We’d started changing the gallery pages to include more information months earlier, when a Netpreneur mentioned that search engines are more likely to find you if you have more text on your pages (like, duh; should’ve thought of that ourselves).

Here’s an example of the original gallery page, which shows pictures, prices, and not much else:

Old gallery page

An example of the old gallery page with very little text (click for full-size)

Naima started adding descriptions of the picture’s content, plus her own notes about why she made the painting:

The new gallery page with more text

The new gallery page with more text for each image (click for full-size)

Finally, Google had something juicy to index, and hits, especially keyword hits, jumped up:

Google Analytics for artpm.com

Google Analytics comparing one month in 2011
to one month in 2012 (click for full-size)

One last addition: Now that there’s so much text on each gallery, it’s hard to guess what’s further down the page. So Naima solved the problem by adding clickable thumbnails at the top of the page:

thumbnails on the new gallery page

Thumbnails on the new gallery page (click for full size)

Brilliant.

Your thoughts? The live site is http://artpm.com.

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Hey Viv! Benefits from a Consultation

Hey Viv!

Hey Viv’s home page

HeyViv’s e-commerce site sold plenty of poodle skirts and was at the top of the search results for 1950s clothing. However, Viv felt it could work better.

She hired us to analyze the site’s usability and navigation and then (most important) communicate our recommendations to the company that maintained it.

The result? Viv says, “I learned from the consultation how to think about site navigation and how customers move around the web site. I feel more confident making decisions and organizing the site.

“On Susan’s recommendation, I added a follow-up survey to get customer feedback. This has helped me make even more improvements. Customers and the operators who take phone orders say the site is easier to use. We’ve also noticed fewer dropped shopping carts.”

Don’t Panic! We’ll Figure it Out

The Relational Aggression home page

The Relational Aggression home page

This is an example of our work with a client who easily takes care of her website day to day, but because of bad choices made by her original webmaster, lost control of her website for a few days.

Laura, who developed and offers the anti-bullying S.A.R.A. workshops in the New York area, had spent hundreds of dollars getting a WordPress.org blog customized and linked to a pre-existing site. (Note that WordPress.com is the free blog, like the one we use for Websites 101, and WordPress.org is a whole platform that you download and customize. It’s not free, and it’s more powerful but also much more complicated to set up.)

However, the designer and webmaster, a moonlighting IT employee at an organization where Laura worked, didn’t have time to support the different components — WordPress plus outsourced template plus pre-existing site — and walked away from the project.

This became a serious problem when the hosting service, which provided no way to contact them, turned off the site without warning. And then turned it back on, then turned it off, then back on….

Laura hired us to solve the problem. We suggested she move the site and domain name to Network Solutions, a far more professional host, and moving the site went smoothly thanks to Network Solutions’ MyTime Support. (The underlying file system was a mess, but the MyTime Support folks figured it out and didn’t bother her with the details, hurrah.)

We also straightened out some problems with the template and showed her how to set up Akismet to eliminate thousands of spam responses to her postings.

How to Move a Domain and a Website

To move a domain name, you need to ask your current registrar to unlock the name (usually) and for an authorization code. Luckily, we were able to contact the domain registrar and because the “relationalaggression.com” was in Laura’s name, they unlocked the name and handed over the code without a problem. (Responsible registrars lock domain names to protect you from unauthorized transfers. Otherwise, unscrupulous third-parties can move your domain to a different registrar without your consent and, basically, hold it for ransom. See Domain Name Tip: Lock Them or Lose Them.)

However, even if the domain name isn’t in your name — for example, the webmaster set it up under his own name, which we’ve seen happen — you can work with the new domain registrar to prove ownership. They have a form you can fill out and fax to them.

As for switching hosts when you can’t reach your current one, once you sign up with the new host and move the domain name, the old relationship is over. Just be sure they don’t automatically renew your site using your credit card.

Note: If the old company does charge you again, you can get help from your credit card company. First try contacting the hosting company to cancel and if that doesn’t work, tell the credit card company that the charge is unapproved; send them your documentation. They often succeed where we everyday consumers can’t.