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Going Global

I have been working on a website for some time now and it finally launched this week. The technical support I have received from friends, family and professionals has been so productive as to be more of a creative collaboration. I am a firm believer in collaboration and accepting pretty much any help that is offered after a lifetime of living as an impoverished artist! In creative subjects it can sometimes be hard to let go of ownership and share and compromise but the rewards are potentially great and to be honest in this case I didn’t find it hard as I knew how out of my depth I was. I have of course been able to access technical skills and knowledge I could probably never acquire, but I have also had people to bounce ideas off, people to keep the project on track, people who share an interest in the ultimate success of the project.
The OCA student website is there for you and could potentially provide much of this kind of input and support. I would encourage all students to post their work onto the website, but also to use a blog or post onto the various fora as a way of widening the circle of people engaged in your work. Many of my students write well in their learning log and would have a great deal to contribute in a seminar type arena. There is no reason why the OCA website could not provide that type of environment for you.

It’s scary to make your work public and offer yourself up for feedback, but on the whole people are aware of that and are usually kind and constructive. The OCA website is carefully monitored and should be a very safe space for you to engage in meaningful creative dialogue with your peers. Occasionally I put two of my own students that are thinking about the same thing in touch with each other so that they email directly and I often ask permission from one student to share images of their work with another – it is so useful. If you have any tips for other students about how to get the best from the OCA site, do comment on this blog so we can share them. One forum is called ‘geographical area’ and is for students to get together with others in their locality in real life either at an exhibition, on a sketching trip or in a pub somewhere.
I was really pleased to see a lovely website set up by a group of OCA students called www.untitledgallery.org as a platform for them to showcase their work – well done to you all. There is a link to the site on the Fine Art forum.
I am using my website primarily as a promotional tool to help prospective galleries or funding bodies to see what I have been up to, but the process has proved to be so much more than that. Writing summaries of my intentions of each project has focussed my thinking, reviewing older work has given me confidence and reminded me of my achievements. It turns out that the website has also served to help me see for myself what I have been up to, let alone anyone else.
If you would like to see my newborn website, it is at www.emmadrye.co.uk
I hope to see a lot more of your work and your input into forum discussions on the OCA student site soon.

Posted by author: Emma Drye
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5 thoughts on “Going Global

  • Hi Emma, it’s a very interesting looking website. But it is not at all search engine friendly. Most of the content appears to be loaded through javascript. All the content, even the text, consists of images.
    The problem is that Google cannot index text contained in images, and also has problems with content that is loaded dynamically using javascript. So to Google it will look like your site consists largely of empty pages.
    You would do much better to make the basic pages of your site using standard html, and save the javascript and images for special effects. The main point of having a website is for people to find you, at the moment the way that your website is designed is really working against you.

  • Hi Fiona, I feel as if I use the internet less like a web, more like a veruca – pushing roots out in directions I choose rather than making myself generally available. I use the site as a portable gallery, rather than a general advert. In the old days when we applied for funding, exhibitions or residencies we had to send slides, then it was c.ds, now a lot of places just ask for a url to your website. I don’t want people I haven’t already made a connection with googling me really, it is unlikely that it will happen in a useful way for me, I would rather share the link with interested parties, through the oca website for example. If anyone wants to find out more about me having seen my work or heard about me through a third party they can google my name very effectively and that is probably about as wide a circle as I can usefully support.
    I did ask the website developer for his views and here is his (slightly edited) response:
    “while Fiona’s comments hold some truth it is a generalised view point. I’m confident your website won’t suffer adversely from containing images of text as opposed to search engine readable text. All the pages are accessible by the search engines even though they are loaded dynamically. The only contentious point is the text on the cards which can’t be indexed, but as the context of the text only really relates to corresponding images the theoretical visits generated via search engines for terms such as” Soup and Pudding”, Figurines, Lewissian Gneiss etc, etc will be small and completely random, and importantly, won’t convert to anything meaningful.
    When tackling website marketing, especially for small website owners it is often more productive to pro-actively target, selected, interested parties rather than focus on the more passive search engine ranking approach with hope and a prayer. Emma’s objectives for the web site were very clear, focused and realistic so in this case I think we are justified in pushing the technological boundaries and concentrating on the user experience rather than the search engine visibility of the artists notes. For those interested the website pages utilise HTML, CSS, AJAX and JQuery libraries the new standard for web user interface development.”

  • My comments were based on some ten years experience as a web designer, including successfully running my own business as a professional web designer for the past three years. They would I think be the view that most web professionals would take.
    Though there are ways to allow Google to crawl AJAX content (see https://developers.google.com/webmasters/ajax-crawling/), your web developer does not seem to have bothered with them. In any case it would not help much because of the simple fact that all your content seems to be created out of images. This IS a serious problem, in spite of what your web developer is telling you.
    If you want to get an idea of what your website would look like to a search engine, try loading it in the Opera web browser then changing to the ‘accessibility’ layout (on the ‘view’ menu). You will see what search engines would generally see – an empty space. (They will see slightly more because you do have at least some metatags).
    Sorry, but I think you really have a problem with your site.
    If you don’t want visitors then fine, but if you do want people to actually find you then you really need something different. I would suggest you consider something along the lines of a WordPress site, it is basically a blogging system, but there are some great extensions available for it including image galleries which would allow you to show off your images and do a great deal more.

  • I like the idea of having a website, yours looks quite neat and makes a great reference point for the students or other people who would like to see what you are up to! Well done, Emma:)

  • I was interested to read fiona’s earlier post as it explained why emma’s website appeared to be blank other than the labels which i liked. I can access oca blog and some sites on my fone, its newish but not a smartfone. Maybe most people can access your site, emma, especially those who are priority viewers? I was just visiting out of interest + solidarity with your new venture. All best with it. Roberta

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