30 Jul 2009

Hidden Palms

I'm inspired by the punning meaning of Hidden Palms, an American teen drama television series that ran in 2007 in the United States. The series, created by Kevin Williamson, portrays the fictional lives of a group of teenagers and their families residing in Palm Springs, a part of California filled with palm trees hidden in the desert mountains.

Hidden Palms also means the invisible hands that created all the crafts exhibited in the outlet .. we get to keep the item we buy .. knowing there is some one out there who made it that will always be hidden .. it's those hidden hands that made it into a reality .. Hidden Palms .. is more fashionable .. more contemporary.

29 Jul 2009

Basima Al Ali

Mrs. Al Ali is a stay at home mum .. works at a weekend school teaching the Arabic language to Arab children who are born in London encouraged by their parents.
Basima was encouraged by her environment to occupy her self in her free time by handcrafts .. a hobby she developed along the years.
Her skills include Stained Glass , Embroidery and bead jewellery.
Basima has soled her work at craft fairs and is interested in exhibiting in a craft shop.

Crafts Woman

28 Jul 2009

Marketing Argument .. What does a Crafts Outlet have to offer the community

Craft today is the product of high levels of innovation and creative flair as well as skill and workmanship.
It includes very individual, but practical items such as furniture, tableware and fashion accessories as well as collectors’ pieces for display, all rewarding to own.

Many people find the idea of going into an art gallery intimidating, because they fear they do not know enough or the work will be too expensive.
Where as a crafts outlet .. with a few rare exceptions, stock craft work at
a wide range of prices, You can visit regularly and not have to buy something
every time.

Imagine what you might be missing if you don’t go in for a look!
The staff know that if customers feel comfortable and welcome they will come
back to make purchases when they are ready.

The Trend of Craft

It is more likely that people will be tuned to the handicrafts, simply by environment.
It's a habit we pic up from our home and community, along our growing years we are eager to adopt new popular fashionable trends, but as we settle into a long lasting set of rite and wrong, we fined our selves going back to our roots of habits and traditions, because they work.

So in plain English ..

If our mum, dad or grandmother .. our friend, teacher or Santa Claus .. introduce us at an early age to the world of crafts ( a hand made gift or a craft set that we will make with a hand made creation our selves ) .. the appreciation for handcrafts will stay and grow with us.

Today, as dependents, others buy for us .. in the future as independents, we will do it for others.

We always glorify .. The Good Old Days

A type of product that is useful and decorative, made completely by hand or using only simple tools with traditional means of making goods. The individual artisanship of the items is a paramount criterion, often have a cultural significance.

Handicrafts are mostly made with sustainable materials, inspiring ideas to reduce, reuse and recycle!

The aim of promoting Handicrafts in order to benefit craftsmen and artisans. The main focus is on their future prospects, compensation, education and better standard of living. The key motive is to promote economic security and financial independence.
The rate of employment is comparative, people can indulge in the handicrafts.
These straightforward objectives of artisans smooth the progress of growth for them. It even allows them to enjoy the benefits of socially devoted and highly stable establishment.

why buy craft?

Any object which has been hand-produced by someone who has thought about why
they are making it, what it’s to be used for and how it looks, will have far more
presence than a machine-made object.
The personality of the craftsperson (now often called ‘maker’) will be part of the
piece, making it unique.
Craft is still moderately priced in this country. Work by the top makers can
be bought at a fraction of the cost of an average painting. It may have taken
years of training, experimentation and experience for the maker to arrive at the
piece you are buying. Taking this into account, plus the cost of materials, overheads etc, the price is often incredibly good value for money.

finding craft work to buy & sell

• Find out about crafts and craft outlets in magazines like Crafts, Ceramic Review, Selvedge, Artwork, and the websites

• Become knowledgeable by going round craft galleries/craft fairs/workshops.

• Art college degree shows are another good source.

• Ask the staff questions about the crafts in stock. Most are extremely
knowledgeable people who are happy to talk about the work on show.

how much to spend on buying craft?

This is a personal matter .. but it's worth it to consider

• Prices range from a few pounds for production pieces (repeatable items)
by up-and-coming makers, to several thousand for one-off pieces by
established craftspeople whose work may be in public and private collections
around the world. Between those two extremes there is something to suit
every pocket.

• Choose to suit the space available in your home or to match your style and

• Buy what you like. It is not a good idea to think you are buying as an investment:
fashions change and values go down as well as up. Buy to get enjoyment out of
the piece for many years to come – if it becomes valuable then that’s a bonus.

• If the piece is in a glass case in the shop ask to examine it. Feel free to handle
objects: the texture, weight and finish of the piece will affect the way you feel
about it.

Offering guiding Tips .. caring for the craft you buy

If you are unsure about how to care for the piece you have bought, ask the maker
or gallery for as much information as possible. If it requires specialist care this
is usually clear in the information provided. The best advice is to treat everything with respect:

• wash by hand and with care. Don’t use a dishwasher, microwave, washing
machine or tumble drier unless you are certain that it’s alright to do so!

• avoid direct sunlight on textiles or works on paper which have the
potential to fade

• dust with care

• don’t clean jewellery that has stones, pearls or enamel by using a silver dip
solution – use a cloth or soft brush and possibly some washing-up liquid

• ask an expert if in any doubt but mostly...

• use your common sense! Always keep receipts, if only because it’s
good to remember where and when you bought something. If you’re lucky enough
to be buying a valuable piece take a photograph to keep safely for insurance
You should also insure it separately and not just under your
general household insurance.

• learning more ...

Meeting the maker is always a bonus when buying craft work. Finding out what
inspires them, the methods they use, their background and experience adds
to the pleasure of owning their work.
Craft fair stands are usually staffed by the makers themselves. Their workshops,
especially in rural areas, are often open to the public at specific times, giving you the opportunity to see them at work. Do phone and check before you set off though.
The outlet staff will usually give you a copy of the maker’s CV and a statement about
their work. This is a reminder of who made the item so you can keep informed
about their new work or, if the piece is a present, the recipient will know that their
gift is unique.
If the ring you like doesn’t quite fit or the table you’ve found has already been sold
do not despair. It is often possible to commission the maker to produce a piece
specially for you. It takes time to create craft objects so plan ahead if you are
buying for a special occasion. Most makers are happy to discuss commissions.
The process can be as individual as the work you are buying
and the experience thoroughly rewarding.

The Bead Shop ... Covent Garden

21a Tower Street .. Covent Garden .. London WC2H 9NS .. England

Is a frequently visited shop by bead stringers & jewllery makers, it was brought to my attention by a friend who has a passion for bead stringing .. often surprising a guest at her home with the latest string she made.

Talking to one of the staff running the shop .. Miss Dorteh who has been in the business for a few years said ...
All businesses have suffered during the credit crunch .. The bead shop quickly regained it's costumers due to the increasing cost of accessories .. that led many to make their own
The bead shop has something for every one .. there are low cost Plastic & glass beads .. there are sculptored beads and semi precious stones carved into beads .. plus metallic accessories adding to all the other bits & pieces that complete the craft.

Among the costumers .. Mrs. Debby & little Cate
Cate was at a "Girls Aloud" and was looking forward to purchasing the fashion bead jewellery the band set as a trend .. but they where sold out .. so Cate is going to make her own .. thet's whey she is in The Bead shop .. Debby is thrilled to support her daughter in her interest in a craft.

Mrs. Doreen Gray was also in the shop .. choosing beads for a new design .. I asked her if she is interested in selling her stings of beads .. she was interested and supportive of the idea of a crafts outlet.

Basima Al Ali .. is jack of many traids .. I will visit her in her home to cover all her crafts.

Hilary Grainger ... Artwork

In an attempt to enrich my supplyer resources .. I managed to contact Mrs. Grainger, who went back to school to study art in her 70s, gaining a degree in fine arts from Guildhall University.
Hilary invented a unique method of art expression 'Vibragraphics' a form of etching created by the movement of the tube train, by holding the etching pen over the metal plate to accept the vibration, creating surprising art.

Hilary's work of art was put on show in the Royal Academy of Arts summer exhibition.

currently Mrs. Grainger is at home coping with old age health problems, but is still motivated to create etched paintings , plus taking orders for creating water & poster color personal cards which each one is a pieces of art on it's own.

20 Jul 2009

Understanding the role of a website that promots a Crafts outlet

As part of the Branding package I'll be Designing for the Crafts out let will be a website that promotes the value of hand made crafts also the crafts men and women and the objects that will be soled.

Usability and the utility, not the visual design, determine the success or failure of a web-site. Since the visitor of the page is the only person who clicks the mouse and therefore decides everything, user-centric design has become a standard approach for successful and profit-oriented web design. After all, if users can’t use a feature, it might as well not exist.

The main principles, heuristics and approaches for effective web design — approaches which, used properly, can lead to more sophisticated design decisions and simplify the process of perceiving presented information.
In order to use the principles properly we first need to understand how users interact with web-sites, how they think and what are the basic patterns of users’ behavior.

How do users think?

Basically, users’ habits on the Web aren’t that different from customers’ habits in a store. Visitors glance at each new page, scan some of the text, and click on the first link that catches their interest or vaguely resembles the thing they’re looking for. In fact, there are large parts of the page they don’t even look at.

Most users search for something interesting (or useful) and clickable; as soon as some promising candidates are found, users click. If the new page doesn’t meet users’ expectations, the Back button is clicked and the search process is continued.

* Users appreciate quality and credibility. If a page provides users with high-quality content, they are willing to compromise the content with advertisements and the design of the site. This is the reason why not-that-well-designed web-sites with high-quality content gain a lot of traffic over years. Content is more important than the design which supports it.

* Users don’t read, they scan. Analyzing a web-page, users search for some fixed points or anchors which would guide them through the content of the page.

Notice how “hot” areas abrupt in the middle of sentences. This is typical for the scanning process.

The F-Shaped Pattern For Reading Web Content
Eyetracking visualizations show that users often read Web pages in an F-shaped pattern: two horizontal stripes followed by a vertical stripe.

* Web users are impatient and insist on instant gratification. Very simple principle: If a web-site isn’t able to meet users’ expectations, then designer failed to get his job done properly and the company loses money. The higher is the cognitive load and the less intuitive is the navigation, the more willing are users to leave the web-site and search for alternatives.

* Users don’t make optimal choices. Users don’t search for the quickest way to find the information they’re looking for. Neither do they scan web-page in a linear fashion, going sequentially from one site section to another one. Instead users satisfice; they choose the first reasonable option. As soon as they find a link that seems like it might lead to the goal, there is a very good chance that it will be immediately clicked. Optimizing is hard, and it takes a long time. Satisficing is more efficient.

Both pictures show: sequential reading flow doesn’t work in the Web. Right screenshot on the image at the bottom describes the scan path of a given page.

* Users follow their intuition. In most cases users muddle through instead of reading the information a designer has provided. According to Steve Krug, the basic reason for that is that users don’t care. “If we find something that works, we stick to it. It doesn’t matter to us if we understand how things work, as long as we can use them.

* Users want to have control. Users want to be able to control their browser and rely on the consistent data presentation throughout the site. E.g. they don’t want new windows popping up unexpectedly and they want to be able to get back with a “Back”-button to the site they’ve been before.

Now .. back to ...

The main principles for effective web design:

1. Don’t make users think
First law of usability, the web-page should be obvious and self-explanatory. When you’re creating a site, your job is to get rid of the question marks — the decisions users need to make consciously, considering pros, cons and alternatives.
If the navigation and site architecture aren’t intuitive, the number of question marks grows and makes it harder for users to comprehend how the system works and how to get from point A to point B. A clear structure, moderate visual clues and easily recognizable links can help users to find their path to their aim.
By reducing cognitive load you make it easier for visitors to grasp the idea behind the system. Once you’ve achieved this, you can communicate why the system is useful and how users can benefit from it.

2. Don’t squander users’ patience

In every project when you are going to offer your visitors some service or tool, try to keep your user requirements minimal. The less action is required from users to test a service, the more likely a random visitor is to actually try it out. First-time visitors are willing to play with the service, not filling long web forms for an account they might never use in the future. Let users explore the site and discover your services without forcing them into sharing private data. It’s not reasonable to force users to enter an email address to test the feature.

3. Manage to focus users’ attention

As web-sites provide both static and dynamic content, some aspects of the user interface attract attention more than others do. Obviously, images are more eye-catching than the text — just as the sentences marked as bold are more attractive than plain text.

The human eye is a highly non-linear device, and web-users can instantly recognize edges, patterns and motions. This is why video-based advertisements are extremely annoying and distracting, but from the marketing perspective they perfectly do the job of capturing users’ attention.
Focusing users’ attention to specific areas of the site with a moderate use of visual elements can help your visitors to get from point A to point B without thinking of how it actually is supposed to be done. The less question marks visitors have, the better sense of orientation they have and the more trust they can develop towards the company the site represents. In other words: the less thinking needs to happen behind the scenes, the better is the user experience which is the aim of usability in the first place.

www.humanized.com .. perfectly uses the principle of focus. The only element which is directly visible to the users is the word “free” which works attractive and appealing, but still calm and purely informative. Subtle hints provide users with enough information of how to find more about the “free” product.

4. Strive for feature exposure

Modern web designs are usually criticized due to their approach of guiding users with visually appealing 1-2-3-done-steps, large buttons with visual effects etc. But from the design perspective these elements actually aren’t a bad thing. On the contrary, such guidelines are extremely effective as they lead the visitors through the site content in a very simple and user-friendly way.

Dibusoft.com combines visual appeal with clear site structure. The site has 9 main navigation options which are visible at the first glance.

Letting the user see clearly what functions are available is a fundamental principle of successful user interface design. It doesn’t really matter how this is achieved.

5. Make use of effective writing

As the Web is different from print, it’s necessary to adjust the writing style to users’ preferences and browsing habits. Promotional writing won’t be read. Long text blocks without images and keywords marked in bold or italics will be skipped. Exaggerated language will be ignored.

Talk business. Avoid cute or clever names, marketing-induced names, company-specific names, and unfamiliar technical names. For instance, if you describe a service and want users to create an account, “sign up” is better than “start now!” which is again better than “explore our services”. What matters is that the content is well-understood and visitors feel comfortable with the way they interact with the system.

www.eleven2.com gets directly to the point. No cute words, no exaggerated statements. Instead a price: just what visitors are looking for.

An optimal solution for effective writing is to

* use short and concise phrases (come to the point as quickly as possible),
* use scannable layout (categorize the content, use multiple heading levels, use visual elements and bulleted lists which break the flow of uniform text blocks),
* use plain and objective language (a promotion doesn’t need to sound like advertisement; give your users some reasonable and objective reason why they should use your service or stay on your web-site)

6. Strive for simplicity

The “keep it simple”-principle (KIS) should be the primary goal of site design. Users are rarely on a site to enjoy the design; furthermore, in most cases they are looking for the information despite the design. Strive for simplicity instead of complexity.
From the visitors’ point of view, the best site design is a pure text, without any advertisements or further content blocks matching exactly the query visitors used or the content they’ve been looking for. This is one of the reasons why a user-friendly print-version of web pages is essential for good user experience.

Finch clearly presents the information about the site and gives visitors a choice of options without overcrowding them with unnecessary content.

7. Don’t be afraid of the white space

Actually it’s really hard to overestimate the importance of white space. Not only does it help to reduce the cognitive load for the visitors, but it makes it possible to perceive the information presented on the screen. When a new visitor approaches a design layout, the first thing he/she tries to do is to scan the page and divide the content area into digestible pieces of information.

Complex structures are harder to read, scan, analyze and work with. If you have the choice between separating two design segments by a visible line or by some whitespace, it’s usually better to use the whitespace solution.

8. Communicate effectively with a “visible language”

Effective visual communication are three fundamental principles involved in the use of visible language, the content users see on a screen.

* Organize: provide the user with a clear and consistent conceptual structure. Consistency, screen layout, relationships and navigability are important concepts of organization. The same conventions and rules should be applied to all elements.

* Economize: do the most with the least amount of cues and visual elements. Four major points to be considered: simplicity, clarity, distinctiveness, and emphasis. Simplicity includes only the elements that are most important for communication. Clarity: all components should be designed so their meaning is not ambiguous. Distinctiveness: the important properties of the necessary elements should be distinguishable. Emphasis: the most important elements should be easily perceived.

* Communicate: match the presentation to the capabilities of the user. The user interface must keep in balance legibility, readability, typography, symbolism, multiple views, and color or texture in order to communicate successfully. Use max. 3 typefaces in a maximum of 3 point sizes — a maximum of 18 words or 50-80 characters per line of text.

9. Conventions are our friends

Conventional design of site elements doesn’t result in a boring web site. In fact, conventions are very useful as they reduce the learning curve, the need to figure out how things work. For instance, it would be a usability nightmare if all web-sites had different visual presentation of RSS-feeds. That’s not that different from our regular life where we tend to get used to basic principles of how we organize data (folders) or do shopping (placement of products).

With conventions you can gain users’ confidence, trust, reliability and prove your credibility. Follow users’ expectations — understand what they’re expecting from a site navigation, text structure, search placement etc.

10. Test early, test often

TETO-principle should be applied to every web design project as usability tests often provide crucial insights into significant problems and issues related to a given layout.

Test not too late, not too little and not for the wrong reasons. In the latter case it’s necessary to understand that most design decisions are local; that means that you can’t universally answer whether some layout is better than the other one as you need to analyze it from a very specific point of view (considering requirements, stakeholders, budget etc.).

Some important points to keep in mind:

* Testing one user is 100% better than testing none and testing one user early in the project is better than testing 50 near the end. Accoring to Boehm’s first law, errors are most frequent during requirements and design activities and are the more expensive the later they are removed.

* testing is an iterative process. That means that you design something, test it, fix it and then test it again. There might be problems which haven’t been found during the first round as users were practically blocked by other problems.

* usability tests always produce useful results. Either you’ll be pointed to the problems you have or you’ll be pointed to the absence of major design flaws which is in both cases a useful insight for your project.

* A developer is unsuited to test his or her code. This holds for designers as well. After you’ve worked on a site for few weeks, you can’t observe it from a fresh perspective anymore. You know how it is built and therefore you know exactly how it works — you have the wisdom independent testers and visitors of your site wouldn’t have.

Bottom line: if you want a great site, you’ve got to test.


* Designing Effective User Interfaces by Suzanne Martin
* Summary on Web Design
* UID presentation (Flash)
* Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines
* “The psychology of computer programming” by Gerald Weinberg
* “Designing Web Usability” by Jakob Nielsen [JN / DWU]
* “Prioritizing Web Usability” by Jakob Nielsen
* “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug
* “Usability for the Web: Designing Web Sites that Work”
by Tom Brinck, Darren Gergle, Scott Wood
* A Summary of Principles for User-Interface Design