I have spent some time on the Windsor and Newton site this morning. There is a large amount of information there for anyone who keeps a visual journal.
Unfortunately the site requires a flash plugin to view it. Normally I would not recommend a site that uses flash particularly when all the information on the site could have been presented using DHTML but in this case there is so much information on the site that it is worth loading the plugin if you don’t have it. The plugin is free and there are directions on the front page on how to obtain it.
The site is divided into sections Creative Encyclopedia, About Us, Library, News, and Where to buy. In the Creative Encyclopedia section there are full tutorials on using water colour, oil, acrylic and pastels each section is 30-40 screens long meaning that there is good coverage of each subject. One of the reasons I do not like Flash sites is that there are problems printing any information you may want to store in your visual journal for instance. In this case however, Windsor and Newton have provided an option to print. The file is a PDF file so it means you need another plugin installed in this case Acrobat reader.
Also in the Creative Encyclopedia section Windsor and Newton have provided product details, health and safety information, “learn to paint” section housing extensive information for beginners, a forum which is still under development, a glossary (in PDF format) and a 32 screen section on colour mixing.
“About Us” houses a history of the firm. I found their virtual museum the most interesting part of this section. Here they cover a history of pigments, brushes, paint brushes, the development of the pain tube, and even the development of firm advertising.
The library houses links to their Glossary, (already mentioned) Colour Charts and technical information such as permanence tables for their products. Past Newsletters, Art News and Premier Magazine can be downloaded and read as these are also in PDF format. Windsor and Newton have also provided their online catalogue in PDF format which I found most annoying as it meant yet another download and waiting for Acrobat to open again. Don’t bother with the search function on the site as it is not really useful at all. The content of the site is simply top, the presentation pleasing to eye, but I would like usability and access to be considered.