Web Critique #9: Always With Honor

Web Critiques is a take on examining a current piece of web art and breaking it down. We show off the good, the bad, dos and dont’s, why and how it works (or doesn’t), and the list goes on.

With every Web Critique we choose to focus on things that are relevant to the website and how they’re trying sell their brand while pushing a website that is product-centric, functional, and looks great.

We spend a lot of time looking at big name blogs and sites, its not often we take a look at a portfolio, which most designers have themselves…and we could all use a little help in how we show off our good stuff. With that said, I wanted to show off one of my favorite artist (or group of artists?) portfolio; but is Always With Honor’s portfolio my favorite? Find out.

Always With Honor

Its the simple idea that your art sells itself and Always With Honor certainly believes it too. At one point is it too much or too little? AWH (Always With Honor) does a pretty decent job of this marriage.

They get away with this style by having many pieces of their most current/recent artwork on one page. They might make it more “artsy” if they only had one circle thumbnail, capitalizing on negative space, but losing the audience to a “poor navigation”. With very subtle rollover animations that reveal the actual colors of that particular project, and this subtlety is matched perfectly with the slowly rotating planet (Corusant?). The minimalism AWH packs is great, maybe I’d like some more brand awareness like site name, etc, but it still is great.

Style & Function

Like we mentioned earlier, AWH packs a lot of minimalism in a lot of space. With subtle rollover animations, AWH attempts to stay relevant, but fail to stay up to snuff with decent trends or standards. It isn’t to say the site is bad or ugly, but it isn’t entirely inviting to browse or find what you’re looking for—and with the small text on the left navigation, its tough to see what the buttons are.

Icon Filter

Essentially, the navigation on the left filters all the artwork you originally see on the homepage, by the navigation button you selected. The only problem is that you don’t notice this filtering. It seems to confuse me as a viewer to where I am on the site or what I am looking at when I keep noticing the same artwork.

Filter Animation

Best way to resolve this would be to create simple and subtle animations (keeping in line with the branding) so that the user can see the filtering happen, otherwise we are left to our own devices, excusing my crude animation. The product pages, those that show a particular piece, remain simple. These pages simple show the graphic and all its glory, and god are they good. If it wasn’t for my initial gripes with navigation and showcase style, their work would look even better—as it is, AWH has great product and I love browsing through the many pages of artwork.

Always With Honor

Worsely (yep, just said that), AWH isn’t the least bit responsive. I am not asking for a full responsive site, but I do believe in a site that always adapts based on the browser size—designing with % rather than 0,0 (x & y locations). With wide monitors nowadays, designing everything from the 0,0, we end up having so much empty space on the right side and it really pulls away from the quality of the site—the artwork doesn’t expand to fill the x horizontal.

Can I get a footer

Now, most portfolios don’t need a footer. There isn’t the same need you have for a larger sites like blogs, etc.  Its always important to keep in mind what the design for the content you build. Because AWH has such a simple style and navigation, they really need to remind you where information is. A simple footer could be a great touch with this; finding things like about and contact pages, rather than squinting to see links on the left.

Always With Honor

Your Turn

The idea here is to take real world examples and explain what we think were the design decisions and share those thoughts. This is a great way for novice and veteran designers to find things to debate and hopefully learn from.

We also want to encourage user submissions—break down a fan’s portfolio or website—submit it and we’ll take a look. Recommendations or suggestions just send us a tweet @inspiredology@MikePuglielli, or email me.

What do you think of Always With Honor’s portfolio site?