Wednesday, June 27, 2007

More Website Drama AND A POLL

Coffee in the New Orleans skyline mug, "Don't Cross the River" by America on iTunes. Time to reboot. Reboot the morning, reboot the expectations, reboot the exasperation. Let's start with the website.

For the past week I have been hellbent on redoing my website to incorporate all the aspects of who I am (professionally) and what Siyeh Studio is. I envisioned incorporating the daily communication (blog), all the links for the publications--the book (including how to get signed copies, a forum for asking technical questions and posting comments, my own suppliers list, technical corrections and additions, etc.) and articles I write for Glass Patterns, a new area for classes as I formally extend the teaching part of my repertoire, and all the existing material on the glass pieces I produce, the shows I do, etc.

However I had dinner with a friend last night, he is something of a web guru in the areas of content and flow, and he frowned at my plan. He thought I should continue to keep the website for its current purpose--promoting my glass work to galleries and other potential clients--and I shouldn't muddy it up with the book and blog which (if I am remembering correctly what he said) might diminish the value of my "art" work. It's true that a little of me goes a long way. And maybe it's best if I keep the blog away from the front of my work, the professional face.

Maybe a blog--in this case a resource for business and technical info for those in the hand craft industry--shouldn't be easily accessible to potential clients. I was thinking in terms of raising my professional cred, but couldn't it have the opposite effect? I have already managed to offend several people at my publishers with what I've written here about the process of writing the book, and I wrote a long post some time ago dissing another company that has a blog on their main company website that is not very... professionally... written. Am I falling into the same trap?

And how do writing and teaching meld with production art glass? Do they belong on the same site, or do they diminish the work of the art? I have to admit that if I go to a website and one page is selling supplies and another page is the "art" produced by the enterprise, I devalue it. Am I setting myself up for being devalued? I value teaching and writing, but does the renaissance aspect of doing more than one thing take away from the one thing that I used to have on the site? Is any of this making sense?


I attended some session at some conference years ago that addressed the issue of websites and I seem to remember (I have re-purposed so many brain cells!) a strong admonition being to keep separate websites for different aspects of your work for exactly the devaluation reason. To validate this advice I looked at some of the sites of other artists I know who do more than production work--foremost among them Milon Townsend. He does have two separate sites--one for his art work and one for his books and classes. Of course he also has two separate business names (a concept that niggles at my brain as also being recommended at the conference session). Dinah Hulet has a site separate from Hulet & Hulet--but as one site is for the work of one and the other is for the work of two (both Dinah and Patty) this separation seems more driven by the existence of two businesses rather than an intentional distinction solely for type of work for one business. Finally I looked at Elliott Metal Works--truly the most diverse example as they do both metal fabrication and metal art and they manufacture and sell metal parts for the textile industry. Their approach seems to be an amalgam of one site/different sites: There is a primary Elliott Metal Works page and its only function is a gateway to the five different sub sites--each of which has a unique design and layout further distinguishing the different aspects of the business.

The Internet is a mysterious and powerful device whose power is only exceeded by its mystery. You only get one chance to make a first impression. What is your Quest? Though they appear to be random statements/question, all of the preceding appertain to the purpose of a website, AND I'M STILL LOOKING FOR MINE.

Time to come out of the woodwork and wax eloquent, folks (especially the U of C lurker... I know you're there...). What is the purpose and scope of the modern professional website for a small art business? Should it be one site or two (or more)? If two, what the heck is the other one called? Opinions on pros and cons for both approaches appreciated.


Sandy M. said...

Richard and I recently sat down with a web guru and he recommended that we keep separate sites for different aspects of Richard's work, even going so far as to separate the different styles of 3D and 2D. Each would have links to the others. We're also toying with the idea of using a "nom de brush" for his different 2D styles. Of course, since the Net's inception, Richard has procured an arm's length of domain names so this will be fairly easy to make happen.

I checked out the Eliot Metal site, and frankly, I don't like the concept of one site fits all, even though the links take you to decidely different offerings.

Just my two cents.

Bill Paley said...

I don't think two will cover it; you'll need at least four.

The glass as business.

The glass as art.

The writing.

The teaching.

And then MAYBE you'll even have one for personal use, that might include access to the blogs.