dabarstudio.com artist website – Rescue Mission for a Deaf Artist
One of my extra-curricular activities is managing the monthly art exhibits at GoodBean Coffee, a café in Jacksonville, Oregon near where I live and work. Back in 2011 I was approached by a woman named Shelly who wanted to show the artwork of her cousin, Dawn Barnett, who lives out of town. When she invited me to her home to see her cousin’s art my world was rocked! Soon afterward, we hung the show and in the worst art market I’ve ever seen, actually managed to sell one of her exquisite—and expensive—pieces. There were others who saw the show who were interested in displaying her work or offering it on consignment in their own shops, so we felt it was a success. Shelly and I remained in touch and became friends. This is the seed from which Dawn Barnett’s new dabarstudio.com artist website grew.
Dawn already had a website at that time, but being deaf, working in her studio and traveling a lot, and dealing with multiple health issues between 2010 and 2015, she missed a renewal, her site went down and she lost her domain name and working website files. When Shelly told me about this, I checked into the domain and found that we could secure it, so Dawn and I did this via email. The rub was that she had lost her website, and her previous web designer was holding it for “ransom.” Dawn wasn’t going to get sucked into such a control move, so she asked Shelly to talk to me about creating a new one. Her previous site was beautiful, but the code had become outdated anyway, so merely uploading the old site even if we could would not have benefitted her greatly. I had managed to download several pages from her site before this happened, so although I didn’t get everything, I did preserve enough that with the original files Dawn was able to find after a long search I had enough material to work with.
In March of 2015 I was able to install the foundations of Dawn’s new dabarstudio.com artist website. there were more delays due to health issues, but we finally were finally able to get underway in April 2016. I had been waiting so long and thinking about it so much that I was very excited to begin. I worked hard to get it into a presentable state, and Dawn traveled here from Florida to work with me on finalizing the dabarstudio.com artist website. One of the key features she requested was the beautiful slideshow that introduces the site. We finished that up at the last minute, and she was delighted! So was I.
Dawn is the first deaf person I have worked with, so learning to communicate was a fun addition to the job. I enjoyed working with her more than I can say – she has a sharp eye, great design sense, and communicates very well. I even learned a little bit of sign language—something I hope to continue.
Because she has not used social media for quite a while, we do not have any social follow tools on the dabarstudio.com artist website just yet, but the sharing tools are there. The site is fully optimized for the search engines, responsive to mobile devices, and customized to show her art at its best. We were unable to find large images of her older artwork, but she felt it was important to show where she has come from as an artist, and some older pieces are still available for purchase, so they all made it onto the site.
Here is how Dawn’s dabarstudio.com artist website looks after we finalized the design. Her changes made the text quite sparse so we weren’t giving much to the search engines. To resolve that situation, I took the original slider I had created, removed the artwork and other images, and placed it at the bottom of the page. Beneath it is a call to action to contact Dawn. Please visit dabarstudio.com to see how the introduction feature at the top plays! It’s a beautiful overview of her artwork since 2002:
The About page on Dawn’s dabarstudio.com artist website is similar to that of the one I made for michaelcarpenterart.com. To condense her information without having to place it in 4 separate pages, I used tabbed content. This is not only a handy way of preventing large amounts of text from being visually overwhelming to visitors, it keeps it all in one page so the search engines have more content to index. Always remember that they want to see 300+ words in each page!
Dawn tells me that deaf people have a more limited vocabulary than those who can hear. The text that was used in her previous website had not been edited to be easily readable by both hearing and non-hearing visitors, so I took some time to edit it so it would read smoothly to a hearing person. This was one of the first things Dawn reviewed with intent and care during our first meeting, and she was happy to approve it with no further changes. Here’s how the page looks:
Next of course are the online galleries of her art…a joy to put together for the dabarstudio.com artist website! Photos of Dawn’s artwork go backl to 2002, and she wanted them categorized by date of completion, so there are quite a few of them. To make it easier for visitors to choose one to begin with, I created a gallery landing page with image links to each year for which we have images. Perhaps a bit awkward, but considering the range of shapes and sizes of art Dawn has created, a faithful representation of what a visitor is about to see. Below is the dabarstudio.com artist website landing page for Dawn’s art galleries:
Here is one example of a larger gallery, showing the pagination I implemented. this keeps the page from loading too slowly, since only a certain number of thumbs load for each sub-page. It also keeps visitors from having to navigate to a new page and wait for it to load. A very handy feature to have in my hip pocket, and one I use frequently to improve user experience on the sites I build for artists.
Since Dawn’s cousin Shelly is also her art agent, she and Dawn are both going to need to be able to publish blog posts to announce shows and other art events where Dawn’s art can be seen and purchased. It might be a little while before that begins to happen, but it’s ready when they are:
Since Dawn is in Florida and Shelly is in Oregon, they have different pieces of Dawn’s art on hand to ship in the event of a purchase. Therefore, we added two contact forms to the dabarstudio.com artist website contact page. It looks like this and works without a hitch:
We completed the dabarstudio.com artist website just as Dawn was leaving to return to Florida at the end of May 2016. She was smiling and so was I at the end result of our collaboration! If you would like to inquire about a full-fledged art website similar to those you find in my portfolio and client links, please contact me!