Thursday, March 24, 2016

Fix Up Your Website

What's worse than having a website that you haven't updated in a while?

Having a site that is hard to use, takes forever to load, has links to nowhere or makes finding contact information next to impossible, that's what.

Any of those things can cause folks searching for information on you or that thing you do to close the page and keep it moving.

According to a KISSmetricks Blog survey, the time it takes your website to load can greatly alter the user experience. Forty-seven percent of Internet surfers expect the URL they just clicked on to load in two seconds or less. Forty percent actually abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load.

Basically, that means you've got a very tiny window to show 'em what you're working with.  If your site takes five seconds to load, a potential set of eyes that may have been interested in what you have to say just went onto something else.

We all love flashy pages that spin and glow when they pop up, right? That "WOW!" factor is a big thing. But the take-away here is that if that wow is causing your page to gurgle and stall, it may be costing you more views than it will ever gain.

But even if your site loads quickly, how does it help keep interest if the person at the end of the mouse can't find what s/he is looking for? If your page has 10 tabs or is very text-heavy, it might actually look like a cluttered mess that users deem too overwhelming or frustrating to use. Seriously - how easy is it to find the address to your location or your email information on your site? (Go check, I'll wait...)

Another thing that may spell trouble for your site is the ease of use of its mobile version. Late last year, Google announced that more than half of its searches are now done from mobile devices. Just imagine all the folks who can't see your beautifully laid-out web page because your site isn't optimized for smartphone or tablet use. Believe it or not happens all the time.

To really evaluate your site, log onto it from a computer other than one you normally use. Study the load time and see how long it takes the graphics, text and banners to become visible. Ask someone who's never been to your site to find a piece of information you consider important (like the links to your social media feeds or your SoundCloud page). Check it from an iPhone, a tablet and an Android device. If anything seems off, convoluted or messy, fix it as soon as you can.

Remember, you only get one shot to make a first impression. Make that shot the best one you can.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

A Note to My Artistic Brethren

Dear Creative Person,

I know that to you, the art is the thing and you often feel the creative process is almost sacred, but you really need to know something: If you don't take time to let people know you are an artist who creates music, pastels, novels, short films or poetry, no one but your relatives will ever know you are an artist who creates.

Promotion is not a dirty word. If you do what you do to share it with folks, promotion will help those folks know about you.

Think about it: the most amazing novel, the most poignant of sculptures, the most ethereal of music can't be enjoyed if they sit in boxes in your garage or in the corner of your studio. Art is meant to be shared. Isn't that kind of the point?

Why is garnering attention from what you do on a creative level a bad thing? Even if it is a hobby and not your livelihood (and you never hope it to be), how is having people know about that creative thing you do necessarily a bad thing?

If you want to remain obscure and known for your work only when your estate publishes your manuscripts or gets your canvases curated after your death, then by all means, don't ever update your website, use social media to self-promote or follow other artists who do. Just keep complaining about how putting together a bio for an electronic press kit or tweeting a photo of you creating just takes too much daggone time.

But haven't you done that already? And how's that working for ya?

The definition of insanity, according to Albert Einstein, is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. And he was a pretty astute guy.

Making art and letting the masses know about that art are not mutually exclusive. You can do both and still have time to create, have a life, sleep and do all the things "regular" people do.

If you owned a business selling widgets, wouldn't you advertise to let people in need of widgets know you're making he best daggone widgets around?

Why should your creative venture be any different?

A Lover of All Things Creative