Best Architects web site.

Best Architects web site.

Postby garethace » Fri Feb 06, 2004 6:03 pm

On the same vein as favourite buildings/architects. . . Any opinions about the best architectural web sites, Irish or abroad? A lot of factors to consider in this, i.e. potential to add new content to the site, ease of navigation, brevity of text content, neatness of the layout etc, etc, etc.

Have any of you seen sites you really liked by Architects? My favourite at the moment is this one: http://www.tonymullenarchitects.com/

I have seen quite a few - the one by Tom Mayne of Morphosis is nice I think. But for a small Irish Architectural practice, just giving a good presentation of past projects etc, I like that one I have linked. Something nice, simple, neat and un-complicated about it. I know that the RIAI gives out standard guidelines that sites are recommended to follow too, which can be seen at the RIAI web site.

Brian O' Hanlon.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Fri Feb 06, 2004 6:34 pm

Where's the RIAI guidelines... would be interested in seeing those....
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Postby garethace » Fri Feb 06, 2004 6:52 pm

I just spent 10 mins looking at RIAI site and cannot locate it - try phoning the office on Monday - they have to have it somewhere on line, as a downloadable PDF or word doc.

I remember reading them last October some time - they definitely exist somewhere as I remember looking at the web sites of architects here in Ireland, after reading the guidelines and noticing just how much to the rule, most sites actually were.

So it is not just simply a case, like Tom Mayne - go off and dream up whatever you want. Of course I don't think the RIAI would force you to comply or anything - it was just a case of small practices without much to invest in web design, needing a standard template to work from - i.e. producing uniformity amongst all Irish arch web sites - which the design template has done.

Most small web sites set up - haven't much content - slow servers, etc, etc. But, at least they are reasonably simple and could have more content added later on.
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Postby roskav » Mon Feb 09, 2004 11:37 am

Quite like this by FKL
http://www.fklarchitects.com/
aslo ... would appreciate comments on this..
http://www.roskavanagh.com
it's not fully operational but the finishing touches will be added soon.
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Postby phil » Mon Feb 09, 2004 11:53 am

That looks like a really good website. I just had a quick look at some parts of it. I really like the Helvic house.
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Postby alan d » Mon Feb 09, 2004 12:35 pm

.......great images, particularly like the house and the Galway Library. Also the inflated doll.

Good luck.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 1:05 pm

Strange new medium

BMW instead of doing more TV ads, where there are huge restrictions in what you can do, they instead commissioned famous directors to do live web streaming commercials - avoiding all the rules/regs etc on TV. Then you see Time Warner bros, in America getting into the 'online' business, buying AOL etc. Interesting future, convergence of tech etc. Then this whole 'professional' thing, of architects not advertising - that is why I was so interested in seeing what 'guidelines' RIAI give to members to design a web site.

But you just look at the hyperlinking feature exploited to make that thread, and very quickly you do begin to realise, how web article can get over restrictions in magazine or newspaper articles - where the physical limitations of the size of the page - decide how much 'content' you can include, and what concepts/ideas you can delve into. BMW were really able to show off what their top models can actually do, by using the web. Whereas on the TV, they would not be allowed to show certain crazy stunts etc.

Another thing about the web, is that many young people getting into the profession today for the first time, have no idea in terms of history, how things were only ten years ago, or earlier. This is important I think. Even for people old enough to remember, it is useful to remind oneself sometimes too.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 1:32 pm

Originally posted by roskav
Quite like this by FKL
http://www.fklarchitects.com/


Yeah, definitely easy to navigate. I love the tiny little squares along the top left hand side, which allow you to get around the site painlessly.

On the Ros Kavanagh site, I think, something like the little squares in the FKL site, would be easier to navigate - these huge drop down menus, and shere quantity of good images etc, does get a small bit tiring. Nonetheless an excelent database of graphic and photographic content displayed there. And that is the problem right there.

For some reason, I feel like I am at what should be a photographic database of the Irish Institute of architects. I.e. the site doesn't feel like it is the front-end presentation piece of a single individual - but of a huge organisation.

I feel that in general, in the architectural profession in this country, that all too frequently the pressure seems to be, to present yourself to the whole world as a huge massive corporation of designing uber-power, whereas your practice might only be a couple of hairy-arsed guys trying to do a job in a small office somewhere.

I.e. Don't fall into that trap of 'inflating' youself out of all proportion. My favourite example, is one particular architect I worked for, and who had a terrible attitude to teamwork - but when on the telephone to his client, he would constantly refer to 'we' will do this, 'we' can do that, which I suppose sounded more impressive to the client. But to be honest, the guy had such an attitude, he couldn't work with any 'we' anything - if he was honest to his client, he could have just say 'I' will see what 'I' can do for you.

So don't allow your site to say 'we' this and 'we' that - try more to just say, [b] 'who I am' . And be content to say that, and run with it from there. Just my opinion. I mean, FKL are quite a nice size of practice, handling a lot of good jobs etc, - they could drown you out with images and so forth - but yet their web site, makes you feel it projects less an image of a corporation, and more an image of a very personalised, special service to an individual client. Not like, 'we' this, 'we' that.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Feb 09, 2004 2:02 pm

The problem with architect's websites is that many of them are very, very poor. "John can do the website, he does our CGI!" is often the reason I believe. If the RIAI are supplying some sort of guidelines, it's a good thing.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 2:10 pm

And John probably sets in place most of the mistakes and problems that will just haunt that web site for years after John has left the camp to find greener pastures.

It is the same in database design, where often businesses relying completely on a database system for records etc, will just employ some hack working with them for a year, to throw something together - and the rest is history.

Normally the biggest mistake made by amateurs, is they just go around the whole asking/interviewing everyone what they want to see in the companies web site - so that is what you get at the end of the day - a web site, which is nothing more than a template or survey, for what 'everyone in the office' wanted.

Yes, it may keep everyone in the office happy, and satisfied their wishes have been granted - but it doesn't necessarily provide a web site image to the world, which works.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 2:13 pm

I think, your name Ros, is too puny too. I think you need a colour, or logo, or set of colours, lines shapes, which will form an identity for the site. At the moment, it is a blank canvas in that regard.

But five minutes after you have left your site, It would be nice to recall some defineable colours, or shape or something. As it is there, is nothing memorable about the site at all - to distinguish it as Ros's site.
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Postby roskav » Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:00 pm

Thanks Gar... that's been said by other people too... I had wanted the pictures to be the only colour or strong graphic on the site. One of the reasons is that I can't think of a logo that would work. The text in the name should do the job.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:04 pm

I have never, actually designed a web site myself - would much rather someone else did that! :)

Must consume huge amounts of time/energy though.
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Postby roskav » Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:12 pm

I got two people to do the site... it took about 3 weeks to get going and then a day a week since august uploading images... I'm trying to get an overview of all the architecture and performance - visual art that I've engaged with over the last six years.... phew! I also try to put a link to each image if my client has a website. It's good for looking back on your work as it shows up lots of potential for improvement!
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:21 pm

Very true - analysis of where your business is going. David Wright here at CG Architect,

http://www.cgarchitect.com/upclose/DW/default.asp

has a good article about planning your business you should look at.

One day a week, that is about as steep in terms of commitment as I imagined it would be. Yeah, one day a week is still significant I suppose, in terms of man hours, in a small tight operation.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:29 pm

One day a week? You are joking. If the site is designed correctly, your average firm should be able to keep it uptodate with a hour a week.The updates on archeire / archiseek including the four email newsletters (competitions / ireland / scotland / canada) takes around an hour and a half every morning - that's a day a week (now that doesnt include any new areas being added - just the effort required to stand still). Your average firm is not going to have that level of effort needed.
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Postby Peter Fitz » Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:44 pm

Quite like your site Ros and best of luck with it, coming up with a logo can be pretty hard alright, but its easier to make a logo fit your site than trying to accommodate a fairly brash pre website logo in a sleek design ...

Not sure about FKL's though .... so many architecture websites try to be a bit to cool at the expense of usability ... presenting you with a thumbnail at the bottom right hand corner on a white canvass and leaving you wondering, so where do i go now ??

Don't know why FKL did theirs in flash, its nothing that couldn't be done in html with faster download times ...
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 3:58 pm

Originally posted by Peter FitzPatrick
Don't know why FKL did theirs in flash, its nothing that couldn't be done in html with faster download times ... [/B]



That is very simple, following the dom.com bust, there were thousands of flash designers all over the world left with f*** all to do.

I think though, that most practices with a website, many have 10-20 people working for them - so that 7-8 man hours could be distributed amongst more people.

One of the worst, in terms of soaking up man hours i think was the 'computer backup' prior to the days, where offices had servers/automated backup storage systems, which work in off-peak times. Back in circa 1997 this was the case, and CAD technicians, or other appointed expert would devote large portions of his/her week to doing 'computer backup'.

The monday morning meetings about this used to be a howl. Small architects practices have come up with some very strange and novel solutions to things down through the years - penny pinching being the order of the day - but it rarely paid off in terms of overall economy. Which is surprising, as most architects always complain about 'accountant-driven' decision making in terms of building buildings - but when it comes to building a practice, which route do they take? :) LOL.

One of the things, I am very strong on nowadays, is upgrading all workstations in the office at the same time - making everyone equal - in preference to this favouritism encouraged by architect bosses, buying a new system now and again for their favourite employees. THey seem to think by doing so, they are saving money - but losing it hand over fist in terms of overall employee satisfaction and efficient standardised productivity and management.

If you are one of the sods, who doesn't get a new workstation, you are sitting there wondering, what did I do wrong? :) ROFL.
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Postby roskav » Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:25 pm

Hiya Paul.... In my Defence!

That day includes scanning... and there's a lot of stuff to catch up on. I don't do the work so it doesn't affect my work time. I really wanted to get a good searchable archive up - whether it will pay off is questionable... but it represents mainly my commercial front so it's excellent for getting new work and referring prospective clients to.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:29 pm

I understand that Ros - it was more directed at subsequent comments. Scanning is the biggest pain in d'arse and should be farmed out to state run scanning farms in irish jails.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:31 pm

It has improved immensely with USB 2.0.

I always have used SCSI kit myself, so avoiding all of that horrible USB 1.0 rubbish.

USB 1.0 is a 1997/98 technology and was badly due a good firm kick in the you know where.
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Postby Peter Fitz » Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:43 pm

nah digital is the only way to go ...
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Postby roskav » Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:45 pm

What a great idea.... it could be the thing that finally makes up for the custom house fire.... imagine all the stacks of state papers/pictures finally coming out of cold storage and being scanned on to cdr - whatever. The scanner in the slammer!

PS Firewire rocks
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 4:48 pm

Originally posted by Peter FitzPatrick
nah digital is the only way to go ...


Of course, very true. I just shoot a couple of rolls of 35mm every few months, and cannot tie up €1000 in a digital SLR.

But I still want to use a true wide angle lense -like a 24mm Sigma manual SLR one I have for years - so scanning is about all I can do.

I don't care for photoCD results - having a good film/flatbed scanner gives me much better results.

PS Firewire rocks


I am sure it does.
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Postby garethace » Mon Feb 09, 2004 7:18 pm

Just on colours etc, I think this site has a simple approach to colour and style - it is a site maintained mainly by part timers - and has a minimum of ad banners and such.

http://www.aceshardware.com/

I.e. they do it cheap in order to keep the views expressed etc independent. However, it does have a very recogniseable front page, that you grow familiar with.

Like a soccer strip I suppose. I understand the argument about showing the photos against a neutral back ground etc, but I still think it means you lack that identity component.

Have you thought about perhaps integrating a small, but recogniseable logo, as part of your name on the site perhaps? Which could ultimately appear on letter heads too etc?

Or even just doing something with the font, which distinguishes you?
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