Sparkle for the professionals

@thehuhman, That is fantastic news! :slight_smile:

I think it is a matter of packaging the simplicity of Sparkle to the client, although it is scary in handing over the Sparkle file… gulp! The majority of my clients leave it up to me, but I have now a couple of clients that I have been guiding to do their own updates with the Sparkle document we share via iCloud.

In that time I have learned how to further refine my layout so to make it “kids-proof” minimising things that could go wrong… but all in all it has been a good experience! :slight_smile:

Good luck! :)…

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I am a content creator and I use Sparkle to create websites for myself and clients. Sparkle is a pro level design tool if you incorporate it into your workflow according to its strengths. It’s limited in what it can do, but it’s very good at it.

Wordpress is top-of-mind for many people/organizations because it has the strongest brand in the web building space. CMS’s (Content Management Systems) Joomla and Drupal are the same as Wordpress but most people aren’t aware of them. Wix is trying really hard to be top-of-mind with their YouTube ad campaign.
Clients think Wordpress is cheap or even free. Anyone who has built a Wordpress site knows it’s very expensive, just a step below coding. The most expensive part of Wordpress isn’t building or hosting, it’s troubleshooting. Yet being expensive it still meets few peoples needs. I don’t know a person or organization that is happy with Wordpress.

To change the client discussion from Wordpress you need to focus on what the client wants to accomplish with the website, not the tools to be used. Well-designed websites perform a combination of three functions; entertainment, education, and revenue generation. What clients pay for is revenue, convenience, and reputation (theirs, not yours). Do you buy Apple devices for the metal and silicon, or do you buy them for what you can do with them? The so-called Apple tax is what you pay for great design.

Website building is a commodity, not website design.

A side note…for noncoding interactive vector-based designs I use Apple’s Keynote (this is what Apple uses to design/prototype their own software, even Keynote!) and Tumult’s Hype Pro. They integrate smoothly with Sparkle.

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@thetravelhikelife, I couldn’t have said it better! :slight_smile:
Especially about

Website building is a commodity, not website design.

I tried in the earlier days to use Keynote for website design mockups but I couldn’t get it to suite for the long pages a website page presents as. Sparkle has totally changed that fro me! :slight_smile:

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I do feel each and every person who has contributed to this post have made valid points. I have done a lot of research these last few days, not only with Sparkle but with my arsenal of design tools I have at my disposal. Now there are still limits with what Sparkle is able to do but I feel that for a lot of people it does meet their requirements. My main focus has always been graphic design, this is what I do as my profession, Web design is still new to me. Now the reason I say this is because some people like the little things, something as simple as an animation on their site, now Sparkle is able to animate photos through the use of effects, but it’s not able to animate a svg, but going through the Internet I have found a lot of articles with regards to how to achieve this. A paid for way of animating svg files would be to use svgator, but if you do the research you’ll find that you’ll be able to do this with applications like Illustrator and Photoshop, yes there are a lot of steps to compiling your animation but it can be done and once you are done you can export this file as a gif. So from a perspective like mine where I like to incorporate my love of graphic design into something as functional as a website Sparkle is perfect. And with regards to what people require on a site it also works really well. I think for most of us the issue isn’t that the applications we use are limited but at times it’s the imagination that is lacking, as a designer it happens at times, anybody doing art or a writer will tell you, writers block is a thing.

Just my two cents, food for thought I guess.

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@Anti0606 I agree with you entirely. I think there is often confusion between design and functionality. In many respects, a fundamental part of good design is making a functional interface that people can intuitively understand. In most professional web development environments, you have designers that create the interface and you have coders that make the interface work the way the designer intended, so professional web development is a combination of talents.

Whilst products such as Sparkle are essentially a design tool, it does offer a great number of options that allow for the creation of a well designed and functional website without recourse to the coders. This is great for those who don’t have or need the professional resources to create anything more than an informative, easy to use website.

Of course, there are those who require something a little more sophisticated, such as things like carousels (maybe for product selection), or things like eCommerce or full-blown online apps, such as real-estate listings, blogs, membership registrations etc. Clearly, these functions are beyond the remit of web-design apps such as Sparkle, they will require a different skill-set to make them work. This, I guess, is what could potentially differentiate between a good web-designer and a professional web developer. If one or the other has both skill-sets, then Sparkle could be considered as a “professional” tool because it represents just one tool in the professional web-developer’s arsenal - in much the same way as Sketch, or Affinity designer/photoshop and code editor apps.

With things like animation effects, those have become an important part of mobile web development - not because they simply look impressive (in fact some of the most animated-rich sites that are not pure entertainment sites, are often some of the least visited), but more because they allow the designers to draw attention to interactive elements that wouldn’t otherwise be possible on mobiles. For example, whilst a desktop/laptop site can utilise rollover effects to indicate to users that an interactive element exists on the page, on mobiles, these effects simply don’t show up because the device cannot detect a “finger hover”. So, a pulsating button or link element can often be deployed to draw attention and encourage interaction.

Where animation becomes a little superfluous is where it’s used simply because it’s there. It doesn’t add anything to the design or function of the web page. However, a good designer can effectively deploy animation to add to the overall experience of USING the web page, rather than just looking at it. I often come across sites where there appears to be little of interest on the page - in some cases almost a blank page. What isn’t immediately obvious is that page elements slide in or out or up or down as the page scrolls. This can get a little tedious and infuriating because there appears to be no logical purpose behind the animations.

But, at least Sparkle has thought of the value of including animations. However, it is still up to the designer to use them wisely to enhance the user experience. So, in answer to the original question, yes, Sparkle can be used as a professional design tool that can be utilised to create stunning web sites. But the use of Sparkle alone (along with just about any other web site creating app) does not make the developer a professional. They may well be able to create great sites but only as long as it’s within the remit of the app itself. Beyond that, the “true professional” will have to add quite a few more tools to the toolbox before considering themselves as a professional web developer. As they say, a single adjustable spanner does not make a professional mechanic!!

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@francbrowne and @Anti0606 Also in full agreement with you here.

Good design will help keep people on your site once they have found it. However, functionality is an aspect of design that is often completely missed by web developers amateur and professional alike.

So, someone has found your web site, probably by an organic search, what do you want them to do now?

If you can answer this question you are well on the way to determining design criteria for your site. For example, you are a photographer with a portfolio of stunning images. Do you just want visitors to your site to gaze in awe at your website animations or gasp at your artistic skills or do you want them to purchase images or contact you to arrange a photoshoot or to do something else?

Usability testing of websites is usually only carried out by very large organisations with huge budgets. Where this has been done well it shows, or rather it doesn’t, the site just feels right and it is easy to do what you want. The thing is you do not need a big budget to perform basic usability testing just ask a friend to help.

In the example above, let’s assume the purpose of the photographer’s site is to get more commissions. To test that user functionality ask the friend to use your web site to commission you for a photoshoot at a time and place of their choosing. Then ask them if it was easy to do, could it have been clearer, was the contact information obvious? Also, did you get enough details from the user to price the commission, etc. You get the idea.

Always keep in mind the who (are your users), why (are they visiting your site), where (are your users), what (do you want the users to do), how (do your users access the site), when (do they access your site). The answers will influence the functionality and hence the design of your website and Sparkle is definitely good enough for you to produce a professional site.

Steve

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@FreewayFugitive, Well said! :slight_smile:
I always tell my clients off the bat I will be creating a website for their intended users not them.

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A great big aaarrrgh for that writers (creative) block! I overcome it by sitting down with my iPad and Apple Pencil or going for a hike in the woods.

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@thetravelhikelife Don’t forget to take SPARKLE-ing water with you on your hikes! :rofl:

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