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]

There Can Be Only One

OnePress - developed by FameThemes. Perfectly lovely, but…

OnePress – developed by FameThemes. Perfectly lovely, but…

I got this particular wasp up my pant leg reviewing my morning emails. Among the pile was a recurring newsletter I subscribe to — eWebDesign ,with products and coding resources of interest to Graphic and Web Designers and Developers. In today’s batch was “A Free Single-Page WordPress Theme”. If you’ve spent any time on the web lately, these have been all the freakin’ rage, especially for startups, announcements and entrepreneur sites.

A quick look gleaned me this gushing hose of marketing copy. Yes, I know, marketing copy. Imagine that.

“If you’re a fan of the scrolling single-page parallax style themes, OnePress is a new one on WordPress.org that may pique your interest. After less than a month in the official directory, it has already been installed on more than 3,000 websites. OnePress was developed by the folks at FameThemes using Bootstrap version 4. It is suitable for business, portfolio, and agency websites.

“The theme features a full-screen background image with action buttons in the first major section. Scrolling further down reveals an about section, services, a video lightbox, an animated counter, team section, latest news, and contact form…” WP Tavern

You can go there if you like, check ’em out, but I had kind of already hit saturation point. Oooooh look, Paralaxxxxx… Bootstrap… hugh hugh hugh uff. But once I saw, “installed on more than 3,000 websites,” I was pretty motivated to move on with my day. Despite the titanic humongousness of the modern Web, there are still apparently already over THREE THOUSAND SITES out there that already look like this. I am pretty sure I have already seen a few hundred of them, and I’m bored to tears. Even with a free theme, the amount of customization and get-under-the-hood tweaking and custom graphics to make this thing stand out from the mob, it would be worth it to spend a few minutes more to find something a bit more distinctive for a project. Or purchase a more fully featured theme for a relatively minor fee, to get much closer to the project’s aim. Continue reading

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…

Continue reading

Truth and Death in Design

Image choices at Freeimages.com - front for Getty's Istock Service

Image choices at Freeimages.com – front for Getty’s Istock Service

“One illustration or original photo beats 100 stock images.”

This quote turned up in The Year In Design by. L. Jeffrey Zeldman. Sharp guy and a good article. Go read it. It’s short and every bit of it is spot on and relevant.

And some of it definitely falls into the “easier said than done” category. And the above quote was particularly relevant to my experience as a Designer. I work in both Print and Web Design, primarily for small business clients. Turned out to be a sweet spot for me, a market outgrowing what they can do for themselves in MS Word, or Vistaprint, but small enough to not take all their art in-house or go to a big Agency or Design Studio.

Stock Images are one of my big peeves – and most commonly accessed resources. But with small business clients come small budgets. I have absolutely no doubt that original illustrations or photography are superior to stock photos… But good luck trying to get cash strapped clients to spring for a photographer or illustrator for their project. I AM an Illustrator and Photographer adjunct to my Design work, and I’ve done precious little of it professionally – at least that I’ve gotten paid for. Continue reading

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…

Continue reading