Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Current Design I'm Working On...

I just designed a new layout for the El Patio Motel website. This project is half for fun and the other half for my first freelance work.

The El Patio Motel is located in Key West, Florida and is decorated in art deco style with a lovely garden and roof sun deck.

Here's why their site looks like now:
Here's my design:

I got inspiration from Komodomedia's website. I'm still working out how I want the Rooms and Rates section box to display and I left off the "s" on Room in the design. Oops. I also still want to add a web badge for the Make a Reservation link and maybe some graphic "hanging" down from the top of the page to display a comment area for people to say what they think after staying at the motel.

The first step I took in this project was of course drawing the design out on copy paper with the golden ratio. (I have a template that I can print out to draw up site designs.) I already had the design in my head for about a week, but couldn't find the time to sit down and draw it out. It only took me two days, the weekend in this case, to draw my design out and then go into Photoshop and make the comp.

I still have the content page and a form page to go, then I'll start developing it using XHTML and CSS. This usually takes 3-4 days, about 2-3 hours per day.

Hopefully when the new site is completed, I can sell it to El Patio, if they like it. I would offer them a good deal, because they would be my first real client as a freelancer. If not, I think it makes a great portfolio piece!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Designing/Developing for the iPhone, the Next Big Thing?

I recently came across the August 28th article by Craig Hockenberry entitled "Put Your Content in My Pocket" from ALA. The main focus of the article is on Mobile Safari and how you can "clean" up your current site to render as expected for iPhone users.

Craig goes on explaining all kinds of things to consider when designing or developing a website for the iPhone. For example, the resolution of the iPhone screen is 320px by 480px, text should be at least 40px large (or use percentages or ems for compliant web standards), and using microformats for links to phone numbers. Also he gives you tips on how to style a separate CSS for the iPhone and using any AJAX or JavaScript.

I've only read part one so far; part two is more on design, which I can't wait to read. I think these articles should be read by every web designer and web developer out there. One reason comes from part one of the articles in that Craig states,

"Many of these ideas can be useful and effective with other mobile devices. The processing power of these devices will continue to increase, bringing an end to a "dumbed down" mobile web. The iPhone may be just the beginning of an exciting new chapter in the storied life of HTML."

I personally think this is extremely important for the age of cell phones with Internet service. I'm not going to jump on the buy-an-iPhone-now wagon, but if Apple plans to sell over 10 million device that use the Internet by 2008, I'm sure I'm going to read and study as much information about designing and developing for the iPhone and other cell phones as I can.


Monday, September 10, 2007

New Site I Checked Out - Create Network

For the past week now I've been on the Create Network web site, part of Create Magazine, and I still haven't seen everything this web site has to offer. I can't remember how I got to it, probably through some blogs I normally read. The Create Network is a site about networking designers; from graphic designers to photography. You can sign up for free and post some of your portfolio pieces. You can talk with other designers and check out the job board. They even have this image battle on which your uploaded images get rated in these random "battles" that other people vote in. I've also been listening to their podcasts to get some more info on who they are and how this got started. Here's where you can subscribe to their casts.

From what I know so far is that Create Magazine is located in Orlando, Florida and their site, Create Network, is loaded with useful stuff for all types of designers!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Organizational Management

Here we go, the main reason why sometimes work just sucks. Is it just me or does every company have organizational problems?

It starts in the morning and my main supervisor is at her desk looking over an email I sent the day before. She calls me to her desk and yells at me to not take copy from my other supervisor. My other supervisor gave me different copy the day before for a web page when she was not at her desk. I changed the copy, because it all looks the same to me and some copy was missing. I replied back questioning her why he would give me different copy for the same page.

So I get yelled at for taking instructions from one of my supervisors. This is insane, because this slows down the project we're working on. I talked with my main supervisor and she is supposed to straighten this out, and she told me to always bring her what my other supervisor wants changed. I do this by sending her emails of the changes and I always keep backups of the old web pages. I have like 8 versions of the home page right now.

But really, it nerves me that my supervisors can't get together when someone wants something changed. It probably won't take but 5 minutes for everyone to agree that this button needs to be blue or this text needs to be to the right. Honestly, I'm learning so much from this experience, about organizational management. I'm a very organized person by nature and my supervisors are what gives me the most stress, not the work!

So, I've decided to make a list to share or reference for myself on organized workflow within a small team of 5 or so:
1. Know who all is working on the project and get their contact information
2. Make note of each person's responsibility in the project
3. Make a timeline and follow it
4. Create a request for change form with deadlines for reviews
5. Have weekly meetings to discuss what's been completed, what's being worked on, and what's coming up.
6. Have a meeting with everyone to discuss even the simpliest change on a web page
7. Assign a person to be in charge of the final decision

Justified Text

What is it about justified text on a web page? I recently designed a web page with lots of text and one of my supervisors asked if I could justify the text so that the ends of each line line up. The main reason I don't use justified text much is because you get rivers in the paragraphs. Rivers are the spaces needed to justify the text and when you have about the same amount of space in each line it looks sort of like a river going through your paragraph.

Oh well, I justified the text so everyone will be happy.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Finding Myself...Again

With all web designers, graphic designers, and artists is it normal to always be looking for yourself? Your style, your trends, your signature? I remember reading something about this in either How to be a Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul or somewhere else about how designers can't find their style. This would be difficult since design trends will always change. Plus, if you're a freelancer, you're always having different designs and feels for each client. As a designer you will always have to adapt to what the client wants.

The only thing that could help you keep your style is your own web site. This provides what trends, colors, fonts, styles, etc. that you like. Because you won't be able to incorporate your nice two color contemporary, abstract design from your web site to a client's web site or print project. Unless they actually want that and lucky you!