Thoughts on the new site

Hi all,

Just a quick update now that the new site is launched, and people are getting a chance to use the new structure a bit more.

Overall, people are loving the way the new I-Fri works! I’ve gotten several emails praising the update and applauding how easy it is to browse and submit images. (Not submitting images from iPads, though. We’re looking to the iOS 6 update to make file uploads a reality.) Those “easy peasy” comments make sense–pretty much all the changes were made in hopes of making it simpler for visitors to look through all the fabulous illustrations. I have to admit that I myself can’t stop scrolling, admiring, scrolling, admiring, clicking, oohing and ahh-ing at what our artists are posting.

One unexpected downside of the new design is a direct result of that ease of use: Now that visitors can see all this art on the main Illustration Friday site, they might* be less likely to click through and visit the artist’s personal blog or portfolio site to see more.

*I say “might” because I think this raises an interesting dilemma. if you’re an artist who created a work, would you rather have people be forced to click in order to view it fully, or give them a peek and cross your fingers that they’ll decide to investigate further? I’m picturing a physical art gallery displaying *my* work, and trying to think how I’d answer if the curator gave me a choice between having a painting displayed in the front window or given its own room in the back of the gallery, which people would only see if they came inside… Hmm.

Not that it’s particularly tricky for people to take that next step… Of course they can still see a piece they love, clickety click and be whisked off to the artist’s site to comment, rave, “favorite” or do whatever it is we all do when we find something particularly inspiring.

My hope, I guess, is that more of us will do just that: If you instantaneously swoon over something, say so! One click on the image takes you right to the artist’s page, where you can browse though more of their work and comment to your heart’s content. I hate to imagine our artists losing out on valuable feedback or words of encouragement as a consequence of this new look.

In phase 2 of this update, I’d love to incorporate a way to make commenting even one step simpler and add a comments function right here on the site. Suffice it to say, that’s a pretty involved bit of programming, and beyond what I could pull off (or afford!) this time around. If you have thoughts or preferences about this idea, please feel free to let me know.

So, to wrap up, I thank everyone for their understanding about this change, and appreciate all the feedback on the new Illustration Friday. To my eyes, and echoing what I’ve heard in a lot of the emails I’m getting, it’s working beautifully toward the goal of being what I always envisioned it being: A “participatory art exhibit” where people from all over the world can come and see the great illustrations that our talented artists create. It’s so inspiring to see that happening every week.

*One more thing: If you’re finding yourself getting nostalgic for the old I-Fri, and in particular the thumbnail feature that teased viewers with just a small section of your work, rather than displaying the whole thing, fear not! There’s no rule saying you can’t post just a thumbnail in the gallery, and trust that intrigued viewers will click on through to your personal site to see the whole thing. It might make look a little less gallery-like, with tantalizing crops of paintings and drawings interspersed with the full compositions, but I think I’m okay with that. Especially if it makes the site more rewarding for our artists.

Thanks for reading, and

Happy creating,

Penelope Dullaghan

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Posted by penelope on 07/04/12 under IF news update

  • amy

    What’s nice about the way it is now is that you have a choice how people are seeing your work. You can decide to show the whole image or upload a close up section of it or do whatever. That flexibility is what I think makes it smart. Also.. I haven’t noticed a change in the number of comments on my personal blog… and clicking through the other pieces it still seems like there is still an active amount of commenting going on. so the sense of community is still there :)

  • paula

    Thanks for all your hard work, Penelope! And, really, your initiative to launch this site, not to mention keeping it a-going! So, again, thanks for that. : )

    There is a lot I like about the new site changes, and just like FB, etc. (that changes…and changes…and changes…), we’ll adjust and enjoy the new features–and figure it out. In my posting this week, I didn’t realize that I could post the entire image, but I at least managed to figure out that the “thumbnail” size was larger so it’s not distorted. And I understand the, “Do I post the whole image here or just a thumbnail?” deal. Yes, I guess we have a choice. As for myself, it has not deterred me at all to click through to view someone’s blog. So perhaps that is the case for most.

    I think it’s all well done. Thank you again for being such a boost to the creative community at large!


  • Zyzanna Dominiak

    I must say personaly I think it is miles better. I did not notice a fall in the views I get directed from IF. With the points you are raising about people preferring people to go directly to their page – i personally found that the thumbnail often didn’t really get across what the piece is like, so on one hand I got lots of thumbnails that appealed to me and the piece was not entirely to my liking, or I have potentially missed a lot of things because the thumbnail didn’t appleal. I just think the way it is now the art will potentially be more likely to reach audience that likes it ;) If that makes sense!

  • Alan Scott

    I do miss the thrill of seeing what a given thumbnail will lead to. I also think that there is less likelihood of comments being left on an artists blog if there is space created for comments on IF. A voting up system could be good though.

    Lots of the blogs out there demand membership of one or the other social networks before allowing a comment, which I know a lot of people don’t like. Which means some good art misses out on some comments. Whereas on IF we all see them. Ah Conundrums.

    Linking through to the original art matters to me because all my illustrations work with a two language caption which sometimes matches the IF word and sometimes complements it.

    Having said all that, the redesign is fantastic, it does the same job really well or better, and we all get the same enjoyment of sharing. But most of all it is not us who are taking the time and trouble to make it continue with a fresh look. And be willing to listen to comments So thanks Penelope.

  • ken lonseth

    Overall I like it, easier to browse. Personally I’ve been annoyed with the tiny thumbnails for years. Might want to mention that images smaller than 190 pixels are going to be scaled up and become distorted. There are a few “fuzzy” ones in the gallery. Cheers!

  • Lynsey Berg

    I haven’t read through comments so I may be repeating the thoughts of someone else. I think “not forcing” visitors is the best, frankly I barely admired the work on the old set up, I merely went there for inspiration (the weekly word) and went on my way. Now I do the same as you, scroll, admire, scroll, admire, and when one catches my eye then I click it because I want to see more artwork in that style.

    To address the complaints (? were they about not getting their links clicked) now the visitors/fellow artists click the pictures that they find the most appealing to their tastes, honestly it seems like a win-win: Visitors can browse through the many works with ease, and artists with pages will attract the specific audience to the pieces they post.

    [Now I just glanced at a comment about a voting feature. I have to say I disagree, because something that may appeal to the larger portion of viewers can bury a less "mainstream" (for the lack of a better word) work of art that is great just not voted for.]

    To sum up my thoughts, the new layout is amazing and as one of the visitors who didn’t bother to click the thumbnails before (sorry! :/) I absolutely LOVE the new layout!

  • Jennifer Noel Bower

    I love the new site and like you said, if I find someones word I really loved, I’ve had no problems clicking on their name and leaving my comments on their blog. It really is not much different than the link viewer function that the old site had. Kudos for all the hard work that went into updating the site. I’ve had many people leave comments on my submission this week so I don’t feel like the changes have dampened the feedback in any way…in fact, I think it has broadened it the the easy-peasy share buttons to Twitter and Facebook, etc.

  • artisjokken

    The site looks larky and fresh. Well,there is only one minor point what I should like to mention about new IF site : the scrolling ( and loading) older entries are very very slow. (probably I am not the only one, I have seen some comments on different blogs..)
    And the complains about “less clicks to the participants website and so probably less comments”….I do not see it as a problem. For some people is the most important thing a number of clicks on their sites…….:)Good luck!

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