Monday, January 02, 2012

POLL: First Impressions: what makes you leave an art website fast?

The Making A Mark Poll for January is about first impressions.  Does your art website make people want to stay a while or run away fast?

New Year is a time when many artists clean up their acts, remove clutter from their studios, clear the decks and generally get ready for action.  Many of us like to have a fresh start to a new year and most of us have got a lot of things to do in 2012!

However - do you do the same to your website?

The reason I ask is that recently I was struck very forcibly by how much we deduce about an organisation (or an artist) from their website.

A link took me to the website of an organisation related to art (which I won't name).  Its main aim was to help artists but was actually one of the worst designed websites I've ever seen - for all sorts of different reasons.  It goes without saying I was left with a poor impression of the scope for that organisation to provide effective help in the current climate.

That then got me thinking about what irritated me and why I thought it was poor.  Which led me to thinking about what are the things that create a poor impression and tend to prompt a swift departure from the website of somebody operating in the art world.  By which I mean the websites of artists, galleries (both B&M and online only galleries), museums, art tutors, art appraisers, art marketing experts, artists' mentors - you name it!

Lastly it struck me that we very probably react in the same way to websites as we do to people.  Those "first impressions" count for an awful lot.  Some aspects create positive impressions and some features make us want to move on fast.

Which is why the Making A Mark Poll for January asks what makes you leave an art website fast.

Options are as follows - however don't let that stop you from leaving a comment to tell us all what  makes you leave an art website fast if it's not listed.  However let's stick to features and characteristics  rather than pointing fingers at a particular URL!
  • Bad navigation
  • Content badly organised
  • Images load very slowly
  • Tiny paintings
  • Garish colours hurt my eyes
  • 101 typefaces (too many!)
  • Text is illegible
  • Too many typos
  • Music plays automatically 
  • Auto-streaming of videos 
  • Registration required 
  • Intrusive or irrelevant adverts
  • Anything which jumps out at me
  • Anything that crashes my computer
  • Dull and boring
  • Out of date dates
You can tick all those which really irritate you and make you leave a website

You can find the poll in the right hand column - just below the flame icon and above "for your information".  It closes at 00:01 (GMT/London) on 31st January 2012 and I'll post an analysis of the the results later the same day.

I'm also on the lookout for links to helpful info about good website design for artists.  If you know of a good resource and would like to share any recommendation(s) please shout out and leave a comment below.

and finally......what not to do on your website

A New Year gift for you.  This is a very useful infographic I got from Kissmetrics which is one of the leading analytical services for websites (for websites which are far bigger than ours!).

It makes the point that:

  • website design is critical to generating user interest
  • website design is critical to retaining interest
  • good website design 
    • minimises user frustration and 
    • maximises customer retention
and then goes on to highlight what not to do on your website.

I'm going to be keeping it to hand as I sort my website out!

Click on the image below to view an enlarged version of this infographic

What Makes Someone Leave A Website?
Source: What Makes Someone Leave A Website?


  1. I didn't see my first two on the list. Vulgarity or political statements. But I don't like 101 different type faces either. But that's just me!

  2. I totally agree with you about those two

    However I confess I rarely see either on an art website hence why they're not included.

  3. THe main thing that makes me leave is often an outdate, old fashioned web design. One of those sites that is obviously designed 10 years ago, using just html and with little creativity. A few tables and columns..etc. Finding what works is just a matter of looking around and seeing what you like. No-no’s: coloured font on black background, intro’s, flashing images or fonts...well these are just obvious aren’t they?

  4. I so agree about the flashing images, coloured font on black backgrounds etc.

    Also very pale text on a white background and tiny font sizes with insufficient contrast are also a pet hate. If you make me reach for the zoom button you'll find I hit the "back" button first!

    Do "old fashioned" websites go with "old fashioned" art?

    Can you describe yourself as a "contemporary artist" with an "old fashioned" website?

    What do people think?

  5. I signed up with it was easy to have my own website with them, to present my work professionally and their support and information is brilliant.

  6. Yeah I agree, I checked all except 'crashes my computer' which has never happened to me.

    Add to the list:

    -resizes my browser window
    -hover pointer option only ( hover pointer over thumbnail to see image, move pointer off, image disappears)
    -Too many clicks to get to large image
    -Too many back clicks to get back out
    -Centered type ( too hard to read! Centered type is meant for ephemeral material like announcements,
    it's graphic design 101, ask any designer)
    -Too much content unrelated to art ( a little human interest is ok, but don't make me wade through tons of it, I'm there for the art)
    -NO DATES AT ALL!, anywhere! How old is this!? (not as much an issue with blogs, which is part of template)
    -Although I won't necessarily leave, I'm usually a bit annoyed when there is NO technical info on the art anywhere. No medium, size, year, sometimes even no crediting the artist on sites that feature art in general.

    Charley Parker at 'Lines and Colors has a good 'Do's and Don'ts' too.

  7. Thanks for the input

    I've previously highlighted Charley's set of posts about websites for artists and will be doing so again in the analysis post at the end of the month

  8. Brilliant!!! I've never seen a poll asking these questions. I have a couple more to add that make me leave and go elsewhere:

    1) black background with small white text (or even worse, red or orange or lime green background...or worse than that, patterned background with brilliant colors).

    2) Artist Facebook pages that require you to "like" the page before you can read it. How do I know if I like it? I do know I don't like being manipulated to get you more likes!

    3) Too busy blog pages with stuff splattered all over in the new "magazine" style that has multiple columns with small chunks of posts and pictures and sidebar stuff scattered all about. If it takes too long to figure out what I'm supposed to do I leave.

  9. I have a gallery viewer that uses Flash ( and had to update it all recently as some people couldn't see the gallery on devices that don't support Flash (e.g. iPad, some mobiles). This issue will increase a lot now that Adobe have declared they've stop supporting future developments of the Flash plugin (

    So if you use Flash you'll need to make sure there's an alternative available. Don't just leave your viewers with an empty space on screen! The gallery viewer I use now has an HTML5 alternative which works on devices that don't support Flash.

  10. I find Faso and the likes interesting. They make lovely sites but what puts me off is that everybody’s site is pretty much the same. As if you’re part of a certain group of artists. Clikpic has the same. It would never make me leave a website but website builders and their pros and cons are always interesting. Also...Flash...yes or no? (my website is flash based, with alternatives if not available).

    Old fashioned websites usually show old-fashioned art...LOL...but I wouldn’t want to generalise. It just seems that some people have missed the boat a bit. They want a website, pay someone a fortune to do it for them and end up with a ridiculously outdated one page.

  11. Good poll Katherine! I desperately need to update my blog and create a website so I will be reading and learning.

    One of my biggest pet peeves for a website is the auto music or video that can't be TURNED OFF! Bad enough it kicks on as soon as the page loads, but if I have to turn off my speakers to escape it, I'm gone. I also don't like the flash or video you have to sit through EVERY time to enter a site. That pretty much eliminates the desire for repeat visits.

  12. Good post, good comments.
    I like to get in and view art without having to continually click on tiny thumbnails to enlarge then click to close then select next image and repeat process. I will view a couple then exit site.

    Sites that use pop-ups that when you click on an image to enlarge tell you "image is copyright downloading forbidden" etc, lose me on the spot. I believe in stating copyright, just not in that way, it seems vulgar and in your face.

    I'm gaining preference for Art blogs where I can scroll through images.

  13. This is a great poll. My pet hate is the time a blog or website takes forever to view because of the design which is usually more arty than the art itself. Another one I hate is when the pictures are far too small to see so I leave. Another pet hate is all the icons for best blog or some other award. I much prefer step by step instructions. If I want to watch a video I will use Youtube.

  14. Do you mean icons on blogs? This poll is just focusing on websites as different issues crop up with blogs.

  15. My newsletter from Alyson Stanfield has just arrived and all I can say is great minds think alike! She's got an offer about a website makeover - see


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