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30 Minute Redesign #98: James Willney

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30 Minute Redesign #98: James Willney

Today I’m going to be redesigning James Willney, a painter, photography and graphic designer.

The Original Design:

You can see the original site design below:

James Willney

You can check out the original website here: James Willney

First Impressions: Strengths

Every site has some merits, and the good impressions I made here are these:

James’ Work is Prominently Displayed

With any kind of portfolio site like this it’s crucial to display your work prominently, as it is your work that sells you.

James’ does a good job of this, making his work the true centerpiece of his website’s homepage, using a large image of one of his paintings to act as a type of landing page.

This instantly sells his services to potential prospects.

James Willney Redesign

Simple & Minimal

James has opted for a very simple, minimal page design, with a primary focus on his work.

There is no excess content detracting from this, and the layout of the title, menu and work example works fairly well.

James Willney Redesign

Legible Text

The minimal text on the page is legible and well padded.

Given that this is the only way for people to browse the site or get in touch with James to hire him it’s crucial that this is the case.

James Willney Redesign

First Impressions: Weaknesses

Of course no website is perfect, and our site’s often make negative first impressions upon readers without us even realizing! Here are the negative first impressions I received from this site:

No Call to Action

There is nothing on the page pushing me in any direction. Quite simply, I didn’t get a sense of where I should click next.

Even the large painting image on the homepage doesn’t link anywhere. The only option is to randomly browse the site using the faint gray menu text (which could be more bold).

The site would really benefit from encouraging people to either browse James’ work or hire him (or both).

No Real Branding

Whilst the painting on the homepage is a visual centerpiece, the site itself is almost too simple.

Even James’ logo is comprised of plain Arial text, the same as the menu text.

By being too simple the site is void of any real branding, and there is nothing particularly memorable about it.

James’ should try to communicate more of his style and skill outside of just the work examples showcases. It should be evident in the wider site design, even if done subtly.

James Willney Redesign

Doesn’t Showcase his Various Talents

I found it strange that James’ site only shows a single image of one of his painting on the homepage. From what I can see James is in equal parts a painter, graphic designer and photographer.

It would make more sense to display each of these talents equally on the homepage, as he could potentially draw commissions from any area.

James Willney Redesign

My Redesign Proposal

You can see my redesign proposal below:

James Willney Redesign

Let’s look at some of my aims for the redesign:

Showcases James’ Various Talents

Whilst the current design only shows a single painting on the homepage, I think a better approach is to showcase James’ three passions (painting, photography and graphic design) equally. Not only does this give more scope for being hired for any one of these mediums, but it is a better visual representation of him as an overall artist.

James Willney Redesign

Establishes Branding

The original design was too plain, and didn’t really establish a clear brand for James.

In my redesign I really wanted to push a unique set of visuals to support James’ work.

As well as creating a more customized, professional website design, I integrated James’ name into the page background to intrinsically link his brand across the entire site.

I also created a custom logo design, using some more creative typography, filled with the pattern of one of James’ works.

James Willney Redesign

Included Clear Calls to Action

In the original design there was no clear call to action, and a lack of direction to the site.

In my redesign I included three clear areas (painting, photography and graphic design) encouraging people to click through and explore James’ talents.

More importantly I included a bold ‘hire me’ link to encourage new business and action on the part of the visitor.

James Willney Redesign

Suggest Your Own Site for a Redesign

You can have the chance to have your website redesigned in next weeks post. All you need to do is leave a comment to this post with your website address and why you think it needs a redesign.

The Benefits of Getting Your Site Redesigned Include:

  • Most obviously – a FREE redesign job!
  • Your website gets exposure to Blogs.FanExtra’s readers
  • You understand how to improve your website. This isn’t just a redesign, it’s a lesson in design principles.
  • You will get emailed the .psd of your redesign to integrate into your site.

The Rules for Submission:

  • The website your submit must be your own website.
  • Your website must not contain any illegal or inappropriate content.
  • Your website must be English language, as otherwise it’s too difficult for me to redesign out of context.


About the Author:

Tom is the chief editor at Blogs.FanExtra and founder of the FanExtra network. He loves interacting with the community, so if you have any questions hit up the contact page and he'll get back to you.

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5 Comments:

  1. Lisa says:

    Fabulous job! This is my favorite redesign so far. The home page told me so much in just a few seconds of seeing it.

    • Tom says:

      Thanks so much Lisa! It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve had time for a redesign, but I really appreciate your feedback. Look out for the ebook for the series coming soon btw :).

  2. Hey,

    Can you make a blog post about how you approach these 30 minute web designs?

    • Tom says:

      Hey Jarod. In all honesty it’s just a lot of years experience designing. I’m at the point now where the strengths and weaknesses I point out in site’s each week come to me in the first 2-5 minutes looking over the site. I’ve done this exact process consulting for friends/family and when you know what to look for it’s a pretty quick process. Sorry I couldn’t be more specific, but if you have any further questions about the process or the series let me know and I’ll elaborate :).

  3. David says:

    i will appreciate it if my site also is considered for redesign

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