artists websites - Artonomy - Helen Aldous

Artist’s Websites & The Attack of the Toddler Brainz

by Helen Aldous

Let me share with you a little story about Toddler Brainz.

So, it’s pouring down outside with the kind of passionate and lumpy rain only available in Yorkshire. My Other Half is attempting to keep the wee uns entertained and has got to the slightly desperate point where he has to resort to finding things of magic for a 3 year old on YouTube.

My wee toddler son loves two things more than anything in the universe {including me and his Dad} and those two things are Drumming and Trains, in no particular order. He will watch any video involving either, or preferably both {if anyone ever finds a video of a Samba band aboard Thomas the tank engine my life would be complete} ad infinitum.

OH is trying to interest small son in a video clip of particularly fine drum solo featuring Santana’s amazing drummer at Woodstock in 1969.

The video starts with a great screaming guitar solo from hairtastic Carlos Santana.

Note – Guitar solos are NOT drumming.

Son – “Want Drumming”
OH – “Its coming – just watch this and wait a minute. This is great guitar playing”
Son – Frowning deeply. “Want DRUMMING. Where’s the drumming?”


More guitar solo. Son starts squirming on seat and looking round the room. I’m thinking “jump to the drumming!! You’re losing him” Carlos has started singing now.

Finally the drumming starts but wee sons patience has run out.
Son – “Want to see TRAINS”
OH – “But look – Here’s the drumming”

Santana drummer is performing the most impressive drum solo ever but 3 year olds patience has run out and he couldn’t care less if it was a drum solo with flaming drumsticks and fireworks.

The drumming has come TOO LATE.

Son -” TRAINNNNSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!

Son grumpily climbs down from the computer and wanders off to pick up one of his toy trains and run it the wrong way up the sleeping cat whilst giving his Dad a disenchanted Paddington Bear hard stare…

Dad/YouTube/Drumming #Fail

So what has this little cameo of my Sunday domestic bliss got to do with artist’s websites and web design?

It was a fine example of an attack of the Toddler Brainz in action.

My son may be three, but the thing is, when any of us use the web our brains revert back to being a three year old. Even those of us who read the Guardian and have an iPad and like to think we can multitask and all that stuff.

We are all totally capable of having an ATTACK OF THE TODDLER BRAINZ when using a website.

All the grown up stuff about patience and good things come to those who wait, sloughs off like a discarded skin & we are our tiny 3 year old selves again, one disappointment away from stamping our feet and rolling about under the table bellowing, going purple and smearing chocolate in our hair if we don’t get our way immediately.

We are 3 years old and WE WANT STUFF NOW

Your audience want to see what they are looking for as soon as we get to your website, within milliseconds. There is absolutely no time to show anything else or they will be off. Even if they are already deeply interested in what you have to offer, if they have to jump through any kind of hoop to get to it you have lost them.

Unfortunately there are often toddler brain stumbling blocks in artist’s websites. They come in the shape of…

  • Splash intro screens with lovely pictures of your work fading in and out. You may think they look pretty but 3 seconds in your audience has already wandered off to run a train up a sleeping cat, or at least visit another artists website.
  • Clever and obscure navigation that makes a visitor to your site have to figure out how to find your work. Their three year old mind is off cat bothering again.
  • Flash websites that take a while to load also test the toddler mind to the limit. In the time it takes for the pretty bar to reach 100% it has found a Thomas the Tank Engine video to watch.

So you see how it’s crucial that when someone lands on your site they are offered

  • Clear information,
  • An obvious way to view your work and
  • A direct route to be able to buy it.

That’s it. The essence of good website design in a nutshell thanks to my wee un. Simple

Take a fresh look at your website through the eyes of a 3 year old. Are there any stumbling blocks which may stop a visitor in their tracks. Can they be removed or simplified?

Do it now before you lose any more visitors to the ATTACK OF THE TODDLER BRAINZ.




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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Helen Aldous October 14, 2010 at 7:08 am

LOL, mine too, especially first thing in a morning ;-)

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Two Girls on a Bench October 13, 2010 at 11:12 pm

Really helpful and love the kid yelling “Trains!” that’s pretty much how our brains work too… :)

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