Archive for the 'Design' Category

Old 53, The Things Only Time Can Do

I think this is still my favorite texture picture I’ve ever taken. This is a slightly modified variant with some color burning and blur filtering. Just seems to have so much emotion and mystery.

Old #53 — The things only time can do

Eep Opp Ork Ah-Ah (Means I love you)

For their birthday parties, we brainstorm with our kids to determine what the theme of the party will be. We’ve done little mermaids, transforming robots, race cars, [insert Disney marketing machine madness here], etc. But this year, I suggested to Zoë a space/martian princess idea after something Malakai said about Mars one night during dinner. She loved it. She started planning out which dress/costume she’d wear and she wanted to have purple hair. The following image is the base I used for her invitations that she handed out to all her classmates and sent to our family members via not-email. Continue reading…

Pick a Color… Any Color

Here’s a little tip for picking any color on your screen with Fireworks. Let’s say you want to rip-off Skype’s freshy green color from the menu bar on your Mac and use it in your new super slick design. There are a few ways to get to a pixel-level color selection for areas of your screen outside of the application you are using. Most of these methods are cumbersome and force you to leave your design, open some sort of utility like the Digital Color Meter and copy the hexadecimal color code for the color you want to your clipboard, then paste it in your design in the appropriate tool/palette setting. Or… you could use Fireworks (like a good web designer should) and do this:

You can select any pixel on the screen without leaving the app

You can select any pixel on the screen without leaving the app

Yay! Color pickings is easy!

Colors First Steps

Nice fall spectrum

Building Without Designing

I’m deep into a big, stinky bucket of a goobery gunk of a redesign project at work. It’s actually more than a “redesign,” it is a restructure as well, with new content, better organized content, purging of cruft from the directory structure, oh, and it is mostly uncharted territory for me as I’m having to not only learn the ins and outs of the company’s business model, online history, legacy system issues and multiple site goals, but I’m having to also get very intimate with a Content Management System I’m not terribly familiar with. I am, however, having a blast doing this. Continue reading…

Website Source Code As Branding

This was a fun find: ASCII art in the website source code. This works because source code is almost always viewed with a monospace font so each column of characters line up just right spanning all the rows; meaning all the characters of the font set each use the same width—for example: the character ‘i’ takes up the same display width as the character ‘m’.

Code branding: Vimeo website source ASCII art

Code branding: Vimeo website source ASCII art

I’ve done this before, but not with website code. At a former place of employment we had a few servers for playing, developing, testing and live-serving the company’s many sites. I used the MOTD file to present (in glorious ASCII art) the name of the server when logging into the shell as an attempt to reinforce to the user which server they actually logged in to, like this:

Server identification as ASCII art via MOTD

Server identification as ASCII art via MOTD

Oh the internets are so much fun!

Gizmo: the Redesign, Week 1

I’m in the middle of week #1 now at my almost new job and so far it’s going really well. I’m about 95% sure this will be my new place of employment, leaving 5% for the (unlikely) unknown that could take place over the next week and a half or so. The mood at the office is nice… work gets done, and things have deadlines and emergencies pop up frequently like those whack-a-mole things arguing for time and screaming “C’mon! Beat me!” yet things remain relatively calm and light.

My first task should be to help my new co-workers make a decent cup of coffee.

Dear co-workers, coffee grounds lose their purpose once they leave the filter; they become pollutants to the point. Coffee was not meant to be crunchy or opaque, it was meant to have flavor, body, and aroma while doubling as a delivery mechanism for the molecular compound of the gods.

My first real task is to design a set of prototypes for the new public face of the site. So far, so good. I started it on Monday, and yesterday (Tuesday) version one of the homepage made it to my boss’ screen where it was then simulcasted to my other boss’ screen somewhere in Massachusetts. There was plenty of feedback. I love feedback. A lot of nice things were said and some helpful insights were passed down. Today, I buzzed through about 3 progressive iterations based on their feedback.

At a certain point, though, it all starts looking like junk. At first, it started out with what seemed like innovation and elegance—like a colorful, spicy sushi roll—but has now become unsalted mashed potatoes (to me at least). This tends to happen when I’ve been staring at a layout for hours, pushing elements over here, then over there, using this color and that one trying to find the zen within it all. This also happens when the review of the first draft illuminates missing things. The beauty in the simplicity starts to wain when trying to find places to put things in a design that never intended to have these various things. It is not design if it ends up looking slapped together where everything starts looking like an after-thought.

Still, I left the office today feeling great, like progress was taking place. It also feels good to leave at the end of the day knowing I don’t have to stress about finding work tomorrow. I love knowing that I won’t be surrounded by it at home. Freelancing is just as much a prison as it is freedom. At this point, the only thing I miss about freelancing is being around Jen and going on bike rides and adventures with her, picking up the kids from school, and taking a shower at whenever o’clock.

So, I get home and flip through my feeds and view finished, functional designs and I start thinking, I’m just a hack. Look at that. I’d have never thought to do it that way and that’s awesome. This is all, of course, just self-imposed garbage. The feedback and reactions dictate quite the opposite. And in my own defense against myself, each site (and sometimes each page) has its own set of problems and issues and requirements. Self, get over yourself.

I have some ideas to try out tomorrow to bring the innovation back into the project that I felt like the first draft had. The simplicity needs to be reinstated one way or another—it has to on a conversion site.