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#1
James Hines

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Not sure if this topic has been discussed before on Carto-Talk, but one thing that sells to customers is the content. I took it upon myself to design my own website, & becasue this is the first one I have ever completed I will need to put it for critique because of the numerous problems I have already faced.

http://www.annexmaps.com

The problems I have faced so far includes broken links, html forms not sending, or a blank page, design problems such as the format. Most of my projects are education related because I don't have much of a portfolio to begin with. I must confess although I have chosen the more graphic end of the spectrum my design skills seem to indicate that I maybe more suited for GIS.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#2
Derek Tonn

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I'll offer-up my two cents. :)

1. The web site right now just doesn't seem to have much of a sense of style/presence. It is very plain/ordinary...and my thinking is that in a visual field such as mapping, "plain" and "ordinary" are attributes that we do not want people associating with our services unless we are resigned to compete strictly on price. It just looks like a "do it yourself" site...and as much as people in the mapping community sometimes rail upon "non-cartographers" daring to design maps for pay, many of us sure seem to have no hesitation about having people with basic web development skills creating our online identities. I don't think that web site "hurts" you if you are okay with competing for projects on price...but I don't think it helps you nearly as much as it potentially could.

2. Optimization. I know I am a broken record on these types of issues. However, 528 KB is much-too-much to process for a home page...especially considering the fact that well-over 90 percent of that bandwidth could be easily avoided without ANY change to the look of the site/pages. As an example, you display a 245x259 pixel image of a map you designed of Europe. However, it isn't saved at those dimensions...it is saved at over 2,000 pixels wide by 2,000 pixels tall. Correctly size that image, convert to 8-bit .png and then optimize that .png file and you can reduce a 413 KB graphic down to around 14.3 KB in size (attached). People on mobile web apps or dial-up connections will thank you for it.

3. The site does not currently have very descriptive page titles, or most of the meta tagging you could be using to help people find your site more easily via searches (along with helping your site rankings via improved Search Engine Optimization). All those things will hurt your ability to have people stumble across your web site and possibly consider hiring you for projects.

Those are at least a few initial thoughts after reviewing your web site this afternoon. I hope this helps!

Derek

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mapformation, LLC

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http://www.mapformation.com

#3
ELeFevre

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1. How about using the Afganistan map on your "homepage" in place of the Europe Gradient map? No offense, but I don't understand that map at all. I would also create thumbnail images of each map in your portfolio that link to larger images. Why make someone click a text-link to find out what the map looks like? It's too much work. Just show them what you've done! Besides, your strongest pieces are the ones you did in school. I would ditch the "school projects" header and just use "Portfolio".

2. I think you should spend the next couple of months with your nose between a book learning basic website optimization (and design) before spending any money on advertising. I don't think your ready to go "Live" and I'm afraid you'll be throwing your money away. If you don't have time to learn, look for someone local who can build you an optimized website that you can update yourself. If your website looks amateur, know one is going to trust you to build a professional map.

3. Make sure you're using Spell-Check on every document. There's a mispelling in your Links menu as well.

Consider shopping for a basic template in the "Marketplace" at www.sitepoint.com The forums are full of web designers of all levels more than willing to give you deal on a template. If you can't find something that works, create a post explaining what you're looking for and how much $$ your willing to pay. If you only have $20 or less, there's still a good chance someone will find something that works a little better.

If you don't want to go the template route, find an A.D.D. nine-year-old S.E.O. Genius on Sitepoint who will clean up your site, add a few meta tags, headers, et cetera....all for a little extra lunch money. Seriously.

Have a good one! Keep us posted. EJL



#4
François Goulet

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It's not design related, Erin and Derek gave lots of constructive criticism, but personnaly, I don't get the Current Projects list...

First, M. Syrett (which I think is on the list) may not like to have his name on a site like that. You could and should put only a list of clients though, but the company is enough IMO.

Also, clients doesn't have to know your work flow. Seeing that you have 2 or 3 maps before doing his own (or that they have priority) could invite him to go see somewhere else. You have to convince your potential clients to give you the job and deal the deadline knowing what you have to do before it.

And finally, on that page, you tell to every potential clients that you had about 10 days to do a job (submitted Jan. 30; deadline Feb. 10) but you deliver it 2 days late (End time: Feb. 12). I'm not saying that it will not happen, just you shouldn't tell the world that you deliver your first job late. It's bad for business ;)

It's a start though! I understand you, I'm in the same stage as you designing my website and I one the hardest (professional) thing I had to do because you're selling yourself to people you don't know.

#5
Hans van der Maarel

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Can't help to comment on that Europe map... it's missing Andorra and the European part of Turkey. Also, its treatment of The Netherlands is atrocious. I do *not* live at the bottom of the North Sea... :rolleyes:

On the portfolio, add some thumbnails and short descriptions on what the maps are about. What's so special about them and how do they represent the unique qualities you can bring to a map? Also mention if a link is going to open anything else than a plain webpage (PDF or AVI).

That current projects part is a good idea, but make it a password protected page (only give your clients access) and make sure a client can only see those projects you're doing for them specifically, not any of the others.
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#6
François Goulet

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That current projects part is a good idea, but make it a password protected page (only give your clients access) and make sure a client can only see those projects you're doing for them specifically, not any of the others.


That's a good idea... By keeping it updated, you could avoid numerous phone call about the completion of their project. My objection was mostly about telling everybody ;)

#7
Charles Syrett

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First, M. Syrett (which I think is on the list) may not like to have his name on a site like that. You could and should put only a list of clients though, but the company is enough IMO.


I don't mind -- I'm assuming this is a work-in-progress!

Hans -- sorry we dunked you in the sea :( I'm not thrilled with this map either -- not because of James' work on it, but because it had to match a series of maps the client already had. Turkey was part of Asia in that series! And close to zero budget! :rolleyes:

#8
Hans van der Maarel

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Hans -- sorry we dunked you in the sea :(


It's okay, I can swim... (or, as I'm fond of saying: I don't live below sea level because I'm on the 2nd floor...)
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#9
François Goulet

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I don't mind -- I'm assuming this is a work-in-progress!


You were the only one on that page so you were easy to pick as an example... I'm pretty sure there's gonna be more name on that list... James seems to be very motivated and it's the key to success ;)

#10
James Hines

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Can't help to comment on that Europe map... it's missing Andorra and the European part of Turkey. Also, its treatment of The Netherlands is atrocious. I do *not* live at the bottom of the North Sea... :rolleyes:

The data was done straight from Avenza's Shape data. There was no generalization of the coastline, it was not required. The client requested the map exactly as is. I know that you have an affiliation with Avenza & perhaps you should get in contact with them to discuss that the free data that comes with MaPublisher places Holland in Homer Simpsons's dream of living under the sea. ;)


That current projects part is a good idea, but make it a password protected page (only give your clients access) and make sure a client can only see those projects you're doing for them specifically, not any of the others.

Interesting that the Current Projects page was brought up. First off the Home page that most of you saw is far different then what it was when Derek looked over it, I have been trying to make drastic changes to it, so please do not evaluate that one page. Secondly I have been thinking about strongly of removing the current projects page, although as Hans pointed out I could just simply put it on a sub domain after all I have been floating with the idea of uploading any projects I get to my sub domain to allow the clients to view & download the current stages of the project.

As for Annexmaps.com

This is my first site, it was done using Dreamweaver CS3. The design sucks, then again it's proven to be a learning curve especially because coming into this project I knew few things about HTML, essentially when the site looks to be done by a beginner, that's because it is done by a beginner. ;) However the process has been slow & it will get better, but as of now I will be starting from scratch to get this right. I never did take any web design courses, & if only I had the money I would pay a web designer, but as is I need to read up as Erin.John.LeFevre says.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#11
Hans van der Maarel

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The data was done straight from Avenza's Shape data. There was no generalization of the coastline, it was not required. The client requested the map exactly as is. I know that you have an affiliation with Avenza & perhaps you should get in contact with them to discuss that the free data that comes with MaPublisher places Holland in Homer Simpsons's dream of living under the sea.


Are you referring to the tutorial data that comes on the MAPublisher cd, or MapDataWorld (which is a commercial product)?

Anyway, living here is more like in that one Futurama episode... :rolleyes:
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#12
James Hines

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The data was done straight from Avenza's Shape data. There was no generalization of the coastline, it was not required. The client requested the map exactly as is. I know that you have an affiliation with Avenza & perhaps you should get in contact with them to discuss that the free data that comes with MaPublisher places Holland in Homer Simpsons's dream of living under the sea.


Are you referring to the tutorial data that comes on the MAPublisher cd, or MapDataWorld (which is a commercial product)?

MaPublisher CD

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#13
Ted Florence

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I am not sure which data offering you are talking about but I just did a quick check of the MAPublisher 7.x series of CD's and there is no data for Holland. I know at one time we did receive some free sample data from our Dutch representative that we gave out on the older MAPublisher CD's but that was taken out recently due to space on the CD.
Which version of MAPublisher do you have?

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Cartographic and spatial imaging solutions for Adobe Creative Suite

Mobile mapping solutions for using, selling and distributing maps to mobile devices

 

 

 

mp_logo.gif    gi_logo.gifpdf-maps-icon.png
 


#14
Ted Florence

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James,
I see that you are using a demo version of MAPublisher so there definitely is no data for Holland with that download. Could it be that you are talking about the example world data files that we include for the tutorial?


I am not sure which data offering you are talking about but I just did a quick check of the MAPublisher 7.x series of CD's and there is no data for Holland. I know at one time we did receive some free sample data from our Dutch representative that we gave out on the older MAPublisher CD's but that was taken out recently due to space on the CD.
Which version of MAPublisher do you have?


Ted Florence

Avenza Systems Inc.

When Map Quality Matters ®

www.avenza.com

 

Cartographic and spatial imaging solutions for Adobe Creative Suite

Mobile mapping solutions for using, selling and distributing maps to mobile devices

 

 

 

mp_logo.gif    gi_logo.gifpdf-maps-icon.png
 


#15
James Hines

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James,
I see that you are using a demo version of MAPublisher so there definitely is no data for Holland with that download. Could it be that you are talking about the example world data files that we include for the tutorial?


I am not sure which data offering you are talking about but I just did a quick check of the MAPublisher 7.x series of CD's and there is no data for Holland. I know at one time we did receive some free sample data from our Dutch representative that we gave out on the older MAPublisher CD's but that was taken out recently due to space on the CD.
Which version of MAPublisher do you have?

Just got back from work so sorry for the lack of reply but the answer to your question is that the data I had received is that of the most recent version of MaPublisher. My trail is long over. I kept the extension on CS3 but it will be a very long time before I can purchase that hefty $1300 software package. While I'm talking about MaPublisher I should mention that of the 14 day trial I only got 12 days, there seems to have been a glitch that jumped my trial from 14 days down to 12 in an instant.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."





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