NOT Today…

Generic text, stock photo, zero information content...

Yes, just who the frak ARE you, stock photo people? I’ve got nuthin’…

I was not in a patient mood today for fools and shysters.

As a Web designer. I am usually pleased when people see my sites, even the modest ones that are typically just there to establish a web presence for a client. But that means that from time to time, I do get one of those emails…

But I was able to suppress my annoyance and compose a reasonably polite and professional response.

Identifying data has been redacted to protect the guilty guilty guilty….

Hello [redacted name],

I am the Web Designer and maintainer for [redacted domain name].

I am well aware of the scope and limitations of my client’s current site. It is on deck for a redesign and re-build. Of course that depends on my client being motivated to do so and dedicates the required resources. Be that as it may, such a project is well within the skill set and resources of my studio. That is entirely up to us.

However, I would be far more confident if your message included legitimate contact information, a company name, web site, and any other suggestion that you might be legitimate — or even an actual person.

I did visit [redcated URL (from email address)], and that visit does nothing to reassure my opinion. It is a generic site full of generic marketing copy and stock photography, utterly lacking in specificity of any kind, a legitimate address, a phone number, testimonials, portfolio, customer list, or even a single named principal or employee. Your “Who We Are” tells me exactly NOTHING of value. A Google search of “[redacted company name]” produces NO company information, reviews, or even much in the way of search results.

Did you think I would not vet you? There is no way I would trust a client’s money and my credibility to a company that does not even seem to legitimately exist. I am not impressed. There is honestly no THERE there.

Please move on to more gullible prospects.

Kurt E. Griffith
Creative Director
Fantastic Realities Studio


In more explicit terms– piss off, I’ve got work to do.

White Paper:
Starting A Web Design Project

Working on the FRS Web Site in Adobe DreamWeaver

Working on the FRS Web Site in Adobe DreamWeaver

Stuck at the Staring Gate

One of the daunting things about getting your company or organization, or even just your own web site online is just the sheer size of the task. Gathering content. What will the site look like? How is the site organized? What about Responsive Design? Search Engine Optimization? E-Commerce? Unless you’re doing this professionally, it can all seem like a mountain to climb.

If you are working with a Web Designer or Developer, you can make your job a lot easier by understanding a basic outline of what the tasks are and who’s responsible for what.

In general, for most web sites, the design process involves three overlapping parallel tasks. Visual Design, Information Design, and Content Development. Ideally, different people are responsible for these different jobs. They entail different skill sets and appropriate knowledge. But the best processes are collaborative, with all involved in communication sharing information and ideas.

I’ve written a white paper for Site Owners with some ideas that are an outline of the process and some of the practices I’ve found to help the project get launched and go more smoothy. They are intended to help you not be stuck at the starting gate, and get the most out of your team and time.

Remember that your Web Designer and Developer are resources, we’re there to help you get your project online, and we want you to look good!

Download Notes for Starting a Web Design Project [PDF-121k]

A Sword’s Edge of Developer Pain

Deploy Website Button (Cropped)Yes, there are people who do believe this exists…

If you’re here, you likely already know that I am a self-employed Graphic and Web Designer. They used to call that “freelance,” but the reality is that I am running a small business. And much of what I do involves matching what I do, and what I am actually good at, to my client’s, and especially prospect’s needs. As a solo creative/consultant, my market generally is dominated by small businesses, small organizations and other individual entrepreneurs who are wanting to look better than what they can toss off themselves in MS Word, Vistaprint, and GoDaddy Website Tonight…

I spotted this one on a Reddit thread and it made me HOOT.

“Being a Joomla developer is easy! It’s like riding a bike. Except the bike is on fire, and you’re on fire, and everything is on fire because you’re in hell.”

The fellow does have a point…

This is coming off of a long and not terribly productive week. I showed up at Reddit essentially surfing my frustration. I have a Joomla site in development and have hit a documented and frustrating UNIX/Apache/PHP/FTP users and groups bug, which prevents uploads, updates and extension installs from within the Joomla back end. It’s just past MY frakkin’ tech level as a Designer and Front-end guy and have called upon a Joomla con$ultant.

But seriously, do the bastards have to be so complex and finicky? Quite frankly, I’d much rather draw than act the Systems Admin…

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Crushing Disappointment & HELL

That Moment... In the process of semi boycotting the Black Friday insanity by staying the hell home and just chilling after a very charming Thanksgiving feast with one of our communities of Spirit. But that leaves me with a semi-day off (as much as freelancers have days off) to do a little more recreational surfing. Which of course will bring on a yet another reason to be irritated by contemporary practices in web design.

I don’t want to go off on a rant here… wait, yes. Yes, I do. Have you ever idly clicked on one of those obvious clickbait headlines, and just been totally pissed off at where you’ve landed? Uh HUH. Me too. It’ll be something vaguely interesting like the “10 Biggest Movie Flops in 2015” or “25 Things You Didn’t Know About Star Wars.”  Now I’m a nerd AND a geek and like movies, so heck, why not?

Then of course comes the crushing disappointment and HELL of these horrid sites…

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Touch Stylus: The Grail Quest

A Collection of Touch Styluses

Styluses Front to back: swag ballpoint/stylus, Targus stylus, Wacom Bamboo Stylus, Hand Stylus, Wacom Intuos Creative Stylus 2. Rear: Wacom Grip Pen

How friggin’ hard could this be?

If you’ve been reading this blog, or following either my personal or the FRS Facebook page, you’re seeing “from IOS” or “from iPad” on a fair number of them. I have an iPad. I like it. It’s a blast to use and it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes the thing is even useful – for work, reading an e-book, research, communications, more.  It’s surprisingly a great tool for teaching drum and chant, where I can bring along the equivalent of a fat binder of teaching materials and notes, and a chunky box of vinyl and CD’s all in the slim slice of the iPad. Paired with a bluetooth speaker, it’s tremendous.

But I am still an Art Guy. And I’d like to do more with the pad that’s directly creative. So to that effect, I loaded a bunch of creative apps on the iPad and have been poking at them. One of the most fun and intriguing is 53’s Paper, and really quite innovative. I’ve also been exploring Art Studio, Wacom’s Bamboo Paper, Pixelmator, and Zen Brush. I recently picked up Astropad, that connects to a PC or Laptop and essentially makes the iPad a mild analog to a Cintiq graphics tablet. I also had for a while some of the Adobe Creative Cloud Mobile Apps, and Autodesk’s Sketchbook, and a couple of others. I discovered something about iOS graphics apps. They’re chunky, and can eat of a LOT of your precious storage. And so do graphics FILES. I’ve got a 32GB iPad and currently have less than a gig free.

Practical limitations? Imagine that. Next iPad will absolutely be a 64 gb or better. A 16gb model iPad is near useless for professional use. However, unlike the iPhone that people tend to replace every 2-3 years, my current one is going strong.

But like I had discovered years ago as a Design Pro on the desktop, drawing with a mouse is, yes, akin to drawing with a bar of soap. So my Wacom tablets have been next to my keyboard for over a decade. They are still superior to the much promoted (actually not too shabby) Apple Magic Trackpad for speed, control and precision. I use both, context depending. Similarly, drawing with my fingertip on the iPad, while better than the mouse, still is coarse and crappy, the worst being, you cant really SEE what you are doing under your fingertip when you’re trying to draw or sketch. Continue reading