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NicholasPatten.com is the portfolio of Nicholas Patten, a video editor, director of photography, and web designer. While his work speaks for itself, there are some basic changes that could be made to make his portfolio more accessible — changes we can all apply to our own work.
Heavier than Expected
The very first thing I noticed about NicholasPatten.com was the sluggish load time. It wasn’t enough to annoy me, but it certainly was noticeable. A quick look at the site revealed that it was entirely flash driven, which is what I believed to be causing the slower than usual load.
By recreating the site in valid XHTML & CSS, this site would almost certainly load faster, and be more accessible on a broad range of devices and less powerful machines. Regardless of whether or not it’s redesigned this way, at least some basic information should be added to the code such as DOCTYPE, a meta description, and a more fitting title. If nothing else, this will enhance his appearance in search engines — he’s currently 8th for “Nicholas Patten” on Google, with a description that starts with “You need to upgrade your Flash Player”:
However, once everything is running smoothly, it’s a very straightforward experience, and one that is very user friendly — for the most part anyways.
An Interface Done Right
The interface is simple. You’re presented with videos worked on by Patten, and you’re given a very easy to use navigation bar to see/watch other videos he’s helped with. I have nothing against the simplicity in it all — Patten has done a great job directing his viewers exactly how I would expect to travel on a portfolio site such as his.
If I were to change anything about the interface myself, it would be minor color adjustments to help distinguish elements such as the playlist changer and scrollbar. Both of these features seem like minor components, but they might be improved upon with a slightly more distinguishable color that attracts the eye so they don’t blend in so well.
So, who is Nicholas Patten?
Aside from the interface, I believe there should be something more to the site that explains who exactly Nicholas Patten is. As mentioned earlier, the site does a fantastic job directing me to his works, but aside from that, I have no way to learn more about him, and worse, contacting him isn’t very easy (ie: the email address at the bottom can’t be clicked to open my mail client, can’t be copy pasted since it’s flash, and there isn’t a contact form that would allow me to contact him via his site).
Actually, to build upon this point, it actually took me longer than it should have to realize exactly what this site was all about. The title is “nicholaspatten.com” as well as the header, which is immediately followed by videos. If there was a more appropriate header, or even a blurb NEAR the header that distinguished this as the “Portfolio of Nicholas Patten — Editor… etc”, it would have been much easier to understand what his site is all about.
In short, NicholasPatten.com does its job very well, but only if you have an understanding of what Patten does before you go there. The purpose of the site may be somewhat unclear if found through a search engine or by some other means.
My biggest gripe is the fact it’s totally flash based. For me, flash should be used to enhance the user experience without detracting from usability. If the site were rebuilt with CSS and XHTML, I could see it being more accessible, faster loading, and have a better presence on the web in regards to findability.
And last but not least, as a user, I’d like to know more about who’s running the show. Who is Nicholas Patten aside from an editor? What makes him unique and why should I contact him (which again, should be made easier)? Is he for hire?
These problems are things I see over and over across the web. When you’re running a site, it’s important to address your audience in a way that explains exactly who you are, and why it is folks should be listening to you (or acting in some fashion you’d like them to act). Patten nails it when it comes to directing his viewers to his content, but he leaves room for improvement beyond that.