Thursday, November 21, 2013

POLL: When was the last time you updated your website?

This isn't about when you last updated the artwork on your website. It's about the major changes in digital communication using the Internet - and when you last updated your actual website to take account of this massive amount of technological and technical change.

Website technology is changing in leaps and bounds. The situation today is very different from 10 years ago and even five years ago.

I set up my website on 12 June 2005.  That's a very long time ago in terms of technical change! I've included new artwork.  I've changed the format of some of the pages to take account of site developments. However I've never really sat down and looked at whether it now meets my needs in terms of the changes in the technical and technological environment it now operates in.

The poll this month is going to look at how we've recognised technological and technical change in terms of updating our websites.
  1. First it addresses what has happened to technological and technical support for digital communication in the last 10 years. I'm asking you to suggest what you think has been the major change.
  2. Next it looks at the Poll - question and suggested responses. Vote for the one which best reflects your circumstances
  3. Finally I'm asking "who hosts your website?"  In 2014 I want to do a poll to see which is the most popular host for artists' websites - and hence want to do some initial research as which suppliers you favour.

Changes to digital communication in the last 10 years


What was new and is now the norm? 

What has happened which will become the norm?

Here's a list of things I can think of off the top of my head.  What do you think I've left out which is important?

Internet for all

  • More and more people can access the Internet.  More and more people are on broadband and increasing numbers are able to access fibre optic speeds.
  • In general, prices for internet access are coming down - but still vary a lot from place to place

Operating systems and apps
  • In general, 
    • a major switch from Windows to Apple
    • an explosion in availability and use of free software 
    • desktop apps have given way to mobile webware apps. Huge demand and numerous suppliers keeps pricing very competitive
  • Flash seems to have come and gone given the way Apple rejected it for iPads and iPhones (as an unstable memory hog). There is no flash for iOS or android any more and there never will be.
  • Desktop computers are in effect becoming terminals for webware and cloud storage
This represents a marked switch from Windows to Apple / iOs over time
(Based on Google Analytics | Technology - Os)
This reflects a major switch from desktop to mobile for accessing the Internet
(Based on Google Analytics | Mobile - Overview)

What this blog looks like
on a mobile phone

Mobile devices

  • Massive explosion in both functionality and numbers of mobile devices. Pace of change continues to be very fast 
  • Explosion in the use of mobile devices - these are rapidly becoming the norm for accessing the Internet (if not already)
  • BUT not all sites are accessible via mobile devices
    • Flash outlawed by Apple due to being a memory hogger
    • Unless websites resize automatically some are not easy to access via mobile devices (for me - at present - my blogs on Blogger are fine and my websites on Sitekreator are not)
  • Design and size of screen image has changed. It's become vital that images are not a set size and can resize automatically to take advantage of different sized screens

Storage and bandwidth

  • Server to Cloud: Most hosts now offer a lot more storage re. websites. 
    • Cloud storage is now becoming the norm for websites constructed using webware. 
    • In turn this seems to mean sites can host more and more images.
  • ISPs now offer very fast broadband eg Fibre Optic Broadband - enabling watching video and TV without hiccups

Static vs dynamic

  • Content has in general switched from static (eg websites) to dynamic sites (eg blogs and Facebook) e.g. people find artwork via social media rather than because a website exists.  
  • Integration with social media: Stable/functional links between websites and social media are critical to getting content seen by lots of people
  • Still images are crucial currency for the internet. People navigate on the basis of large thumbnail images of topics
  • The short video of moving images has become ubiquitous. Lots of people have the cameras and the software to make them for themselves. It no longer costs megabucks and requires expert help.

Search

  • Internet Explorer is no longer the dominant browser (my stats say it's now down a around 15% of all visitors). 
  • Use of a variety of browsers is the norm - that means it's vital for all websites to become compatible with the latest versions of all important browsers.
The change in browsers reflects the change in operating systems
the increasing popularity of Apple and the increase in use of mobile devices

(Based on Google Analytics | Technology - Browser)
  • Speed of response is critical.  It's an important factor within the Google search algorithm. It's become a top priority if you want to generate traffic. 
  • Slow response loses traffic. Websites which haven't slimmed down their code and the number of apps which load will take a long to load. (I know this is something I need to address with both my websites and blogs!)
  • Optimising websites for search became a "science". This has now been undermined ever since Google made keywords inaccessible!
  • Semantic search - using verbal queries and normal language rather than keywords will become the norm in the future

Sharing media

  • Methods used for storing and sharing media: These have gone from floppy discs to CDs to writeable DVDs to USB thumb drives to small portable hard discs

Ecommerce

  • Online shopping is now absolutely normal and has changed retail forever
  • Artist websites with ecommerce: More and more artists are incorporating ecommerce functionality into their websites to enable direct sales via the web

Design

  • Clean contemporary unfussy design with excellent images has become associated with success (count how many websites now strive to look like Apple's). Minimalist is both functional and very effective.

Social media - sharing communication 

  • The major change has been in social media. Social media sites have become a proxy for websites when it comes to display and a proxy for web2 forums when it comes to communication.
    All the above have implications for:
    • content - static vs dynamic
    • format and design
    • level of integration
    • level on interactivity
    • where a site is hosted eg on a server or in a cloud

    When was the last time you updated your website technology?


    Here's the poll question and the possible answers.

    The poll will close at the end of 30 November 2013 (Greenwich Mean Time).

    Please vote for the option which best reflects your circumstances. You find the poll in the side column (just above "For your Information").

    Making A Mark Poll (November 2013)

    When was the last time you updated your website?
    • Never - not touched site since originally set up 5+ years ago
    • Never - not touched it since originally set up 1+ years ago
    • Thought about it - but done nothing
    • Minor changes - but more to do
    • Updated for better integration with social media
    • Moved site to host offering much better tech. support

    Who hosts your website?

    In 2014 I intend to run a poll to find out which are the favoured suppliers. Consequently, I want to find out who are the main suppliers of website services for artists.


    It would help enormously if I could get an initial idea about what your website set-up is.

    For example, I've got my websites with Sitekreator - who tell me they that at present they don't have any website themes with responsive designs (ie automated change to a version which suits screen size) - but are proposing to introduce them in a few weeks time).

    Any news as to how other website providers are changing their services to keep up with the constant technical and technological change elsewhere is almost most welcome.

    Please leave a comment and tell me who hosts your website.

    13 comments:

    Tina Mammoser said...

    I use Artweb.com to host my site, and update my site monthly. Each month I upload that month's new work and update show listings/CV. I also update sporadically as works sell.

    Ilaria said...

    I originally made my website with iWeb and was really let down when Apple discontinued it and stop hosting websites. I held on to iWeb and found another hoster, Macace, to which I upload with an ftp program called Easy iWeb.
    Wtih the new Mac Mavericks update, iWeb keeps crashing and I have now made up my mind to rebuild the website completely.
    I am considering if investing a lot of hours into doing this on my own with an online website builder/hoster or paying someone to do it for me.

    Michelle Basic Hendry said...

    Hi Katherine;

    I have used the American host Media Temple through a service who does some tech for me since 2011. Previous to this, I managed an HTML site on a local host in Canada for over a decade.

    So far, I am pretty happy. I wanted a host that supported WordPress so I can spend more time on the content than the site itself, while still staying up to date.

    Now I muck about with the CSS and manage my social media and newsletter (embedded MailChimp sign up). I have an update I need to do to improve my mobile site, but it's not a panic and should only take an afternoon unless I decide to change up the CSS.

    sue smith said...

    I use Sitekreator, mainly because you recommended them!

    m taylor said...

    My website is with Clikpic
    www.malcolmtaylorart.co.uk
    I have no knowledge or experience of social networking sites or, indeed, how to link my website to one so I have stuck to my bog-standard Clikpic site, which at least gives me a website that I can manage myself with my limited skills.

    Malcolm Taylor MAFA

    Bernadette Madden said...

    My email and website are hosted by Register365.(mainly because, long before I had a computer, a client who used them, bought up 4 versions of my name for me) and I just continued with them...and am very happy with their service. My website, is a Wordpress one, set up for me in 2010 by a professional who also showed me how to manage it myself. It has a simple format, which I wanted and a news(Blog?) section which I use to send out information, mainly about exhibitions, to people who have signed up and which is also visible to anyone who accesses the site. I realise that I haven`t entirely worked out the maximum use of a website probably because I don`t know where to start...so will be really interested in your findings

    Meltemi. said...

    Mine is hosted by MrSite since 2008 and the most recent update was today and the next update will be Monday.

    Meltemi. said...

    Mine is hosted by the UK MrSite since 2008 it was updated today and it will be updated again on Monday

    Dianne Sutherland said...

    I have 2 websites. My artist website is hosted by a local Aberdeenshire company. I've had the site with then since around 2001 and can pick up the phone anytime if I need help or more space etc.I pay an annual fee. I created the site myself and have changed it over the years (a struggle). Had to learn HTML at the start! worked through the frames, layers, Flash and CSS etc. over the years and try to keep up to speed with the changes, last overhauled less than a year ago. I also have a new website which I chose not to link to my existing domain, its solely for my art courses. I created it and it's hosted by Wix.com, incredibly easy to use and publish and has a mobile device editor. I registered a domain and have a package for around £10 plus VAT per month, which is the top package - I have a lot of video tutorials etc.so needed the room. They offer various levels of hosting at different prices, starting very low at around £2 per month, but that means adverts are on show. It's also easily to link with social media etc. It's certainly a lot easier that the old days trying to make sites in HTML or even Dreamweaver and uploading via Filezilla or similar.

    Dianne Sutherland said...

    I have 2 websites. My artist website is hosted by a local Aberdeenshire company. I've had the site with then since around 2001 and can pick up the phone anytime if I need help or more space etc.I pay an annual fee. I created the site myself and have changed it over the years (a struggle). Had to learn HTML at the start! worked through the frames, layers, Flash and CSS etc. over the years and try to keep up to speed with the changes, last overhauled less than a year ago. I also have a new website which I chose not to link to my existing domain, its solely for my art courses. I created it and it's hosted by Wix.com, incredibly easy to use and publish and has a mobile device editor. I registered a domain and have a package for around £10 plus VAT per month, which is the top package - I have a lot of video tutorials etc.so needed the room. They offer various levels of hosting at different prices, starting very low at around £2 per month, but that means adverts are on show. It's also easily to link with social media etc. It's certainly a lot easier that the old days trying to make sites in HTML or even Dreamweaver and uploading via Filezilla or similar.

    Bernadette Madden said...

    I just noticed recently ( because, when checking my website stats I saw someone had pressed a link to Wordpress adds) that there were adds occasionally appearing on my site. The Wordpress system is set up so that a Wordpress account holder is not shown these adds, hence I didn`t know they were there.(Though the person who set up my set had agreed, on my behalf to this...so Wordpress did nothing wrong). As this is not something I want on my website I set about trying to have them removed and eventually managed it by buying a"no adds" upgrade at €24 a year. However it took quite a while as the Wordpress system kept trying to sell me an upgrade at over €100 a year, most of which was for more space....which I didn`t want...or need.

    Adam Cope said...

    Dear Katherine
    Great report as usual :-)

    But one of the main issues for artists still remains the indexing of images, which I'm sure you blogged about before.

    Alt texts, captions, descriptive file titles... how databases work... etc... these remain important issues for artists web sites, whatever the level of technology.
    Adam Cope - Châteuax Painting Holidays
    ps. my webs site server is too slow & I intend changing when the annual subs come up. I measure this simply by google speed test.

    Sophie said...

    Hi Katherine, back in the days I spent many hours playing around with my website. I learned how to write html, css and did it all myself. Over time I learned there were more and more online website builders available who could actually do a decent job and the service is still growing. By now, there is little point in learning html as there is plenty of choice in website builders.
    I strongly feel it utterly unnecessary for artists to pay (much or anything) for their website. An artist website is not big, not complicated and does not get traffic like big companies do. So you don’t need much. What you do need is a good image gallery and a bit of choice in that too. With the march of the ipads and iphones we now need websites that look good on those mobile devices as well. And that’s basically it.
    Over the years I have tried many website builders. Sitekreator, moonfruit, weebly, clikpic (all their sites look the same), fineartonline (same problem as Clikpic), iweb; you name it. I liked sitekreator for a bit but then they started charging fortunes so I left. I liked moonfruit a lot but they were not fast enough with moving away from Flash so I left them too and am now with Weebly. Weebly seems very much on the ball. Their mobile sites are great, they give you a lot of room to amend and change your website (if you want) and a decent set of templates to work from. And on top of that all, its FREE and it is improving all the time. I can really recommend them.
    I update my website every time I have something to update, like a new exhibition, a new painting or to add a ‘sold’ to an existing painting. Weebly moved with the times and added nice little social media logos to their templates. I blog with blogger (since there is a nice blogger network where bloggers can interact) and send out newsletters once a month...

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