website tips

Okay, a few posts ago I promised some web tips... how to build an effective website. I am going to qualify this by saying: I am certainly NOT an expert on websites or their effectiveness. And I am going to further qualify this by saying: In fact, I am pretty much a web-idiot. So take these tips at your own risk. (They are pretty general though, so not much risk involved.) The web session of the HOW conference was taught by Dave Werner of Okaydave.com... I took notes, but not very good ones, because I wasn't expecting to talk about this later. So, with all that qualifying done, here's what I learned (what Dave said... or at least my recollection of it):

- Be Honest Don't try to be someone you're not on your website or blog. Don't promise skills you don't have. Don't make claims that are not true. Don't show work that you did not do. Because sooner or later your facade will crumble. And hey, it's your website and it should be a reflection of who you are as a person and all the quirky, fun, interesting things that make you you. If you want a job because of your website, you should sell potential employers who you really are... that way you end up getting a job at a place where you can be yourself and not try to fit in some mold of who they think you are. (Dave created okaydave.com to land a job as a creative director, so his speech was based on using your website to get work.)

- Entertainment Make your website entertaining. More than just "hi. here's my work. okay, bye." Put some fun and life into it. Let your personality come through. Entertain your viewers. Can you show your personal projects? Goofy videos of yourself as a kid? Your mad cake-decorting skills? etc...

- Secrets Build secret places into your website. Like hidden gems that people can stumble upon as they browse your site. It's kind of fun and gives the viewer the satisfaction of finding something special. (And everyone likes fun surprises.) I think Jenny does a good job with this on her studio page.

- Stories Don't just show the work, show how you got there. Tell your story. Show your rough sketches. Walk the viewer through your thinking behind a project. (Here's an example.) This shows potential employers that you have reasons behind your decisions... you're not just making pretty designs or ads or illustrations. They are meant to DO something... trigger a response or evoke an emotion, etc. (And yes, I think you're right: sometimes a thing being pretty is the reasoning. That's okay too!)

- Diversity Show your work in a clean, clear way so it's clear to everyone looking what you do/and why...

- Uniqueness Make your website unique. Don't copy someone's bio and change the name to yours or use the same link list. Again, fit it to YOU. Show why someone should hire you or bookmark you for future work, or whatever.

At that point in Dave's speech I apparently put a blind-fold on and tried taking notes that way because I can't friggin' read my own writing. Darn it all! Sorry...

I guess I will just reiterate by saying again: make your website fit you... tailor it so it fits you like a glove. Show people (or potential employers) who you are and how you think. Show your work in a clean, clear way. Show your thought process behind the work (I need to get better at this).

I think this seems like very obvious stuff. Right? But if you have any questions, please leave a comment and I will do my very best (in my least web-idiotic way) to address it...

cheers!