A soundless video of this project.

Fred McDonald Indigenous Artist

Solopreneur Website

Frederick R McDonald
Fort McKay, Fort McMurray, Alberta
Visit This Website
headshot of a smiling cree man wearing a brown leather jacket and a camera around his neck
"asked all the right questions"

"[Mireille] has wonderful interpersonal skills and asked all the right questions. She worked in a timely manner and was clear and precise in the direction she took on my project. She has transited smoothly into the world of being a web designer thanks to her great talent and communication skills."

Frederick R McDonald
Indigenous Artist

*Update: the "visit Website" button now points to the finished website.

The link originally pointed to a staging domain, not the final website. A staging domain is a very useful thing. When I am working on a website I can publish the incomplete site to a staging domain and send it to a client. The client can then provide vital feedback I will apply to the finished website. The staging domain is not indexed by Google and so it is invisible to search engines and no one will stumble across the unfinished website by accident.

The Business Case.

Frederick R McDonald is a multi-disciplinary creative solopreneur: a painter, a poet and a photographer. He wanted a website that shows his multi-faceted and evolving career. I had previously built a first version of his site focussed on painting and poetry. Fred wanted to have photography on his site - and to be able to add new material of all varieties.

The Fix.

I previously built a site for Fred made entirely of hand-rolled code. While it's useful to learn the nuts and bolts of code, it's also tedious to type out every character of thousands of lines of code. It also didn't meet Fred's need to add new content to the site. I had originally thought I would shift the site onto Wordpress, until I discovered Webflow. There was no going back. Webflow has an incredible content management system and they semi-automate the coding process in a way that results in clean, high-performance code.

Webflow Development

Like all website should be, I made this one responsive - we're all surfing on our phones. Ensuring a website is responsive is good for user experience (UX) , for google rankings (SEO) and it's good business.

In Webflow I created a customized content management system that feeds into a blog as well as feeding select posts into a section for new paintings on his paintings page. Fred wanted to blog about all aspects of his creativity - and all of those posts show up on the blog's home - "Artistic Ways". Whenever Fred publishes a post of a new painting he's just finished, vital information about it also shows up, with a unique layout, in a section on his paintings page: New Paintings Available For Sale. Once a new painting has been sold, he has the option of changing the price to "SOLD" or simply removing the item - but the blog post about the painting stays on the blog.

UX

Fred's website is like 3 mini-sites rolled into one: painting, poetry and event photography.

I designed the paintings page of Fred's site based on secondary research. Most artist's websites show only the art they have for sale or perhaps also include a few photos of recently sold work with no other info about the sale. According to research, high-end art buyers care a lot about what other collectors have purchased or commissioned an artist's work. So, Fred's site highlights paintings that have been purchased by well-known corporate and public collections. The user experience of the paintings page is primarily designed around having this information as the main support.

With this website version I introduced Fred's photography. He had been developing himself as an event photographer and so one of the pages is dedicated to this. Competitive analysis helped uncover Fred's strengths and specialties. This page was built with event planners as the presumed client because they are normally the ones hiring the event photographer and I did research into their hiring process.

SEO

Fred had certain keywords and phrases he wanted to rank for. I've programmed those into the site's content and meta tags, within a certain geographical footprint. Webflow comes with many settings and tools to help me improve SEO: accessibility tools, secure sockets layer (SSL), minification of code, high-performance hosting, canonical tags and more boring technical terms I could put you to sleep with.

What matters is making the most of these options, not only for ranking well, but because much of what contributes to a website ranking well is also good for user experience, accessibility and site performance (loading, speed, stability).

When I created the content management system for Fred's blog, I attached the meta tags to certain input fields. This means each new post he makes is automatically optimized to make the most of his new content from an SEO perspective.

Copywriting

Fred provided me with facts and I combined this with information from his LinkedIn profile and his book, Ancestral portraits, to create the website copy. Most of the website is made up of photographs and poetry.

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