In my freelancing work, I’ve been between projects this month. I often try to utilize “down time” by updating my portfolio. I’ve added 5 new projects this time around, 3 in User Interface and 2 in Web Sites.
Archive for the ‘Design’ Category
I love crafts. My friend GC was throwing a baby shower for another friend at church, who’s expecting a baby boy. G asked me to help out with the invitations, so we got together and brainstormed. We decided on yellow, and a hand-carved rubber stamp, to print on the cards with acrylic paint… GC is even more crafty than me (we are the types who tend to hoard craft supplies) and she had some textile medium to mix with the paint to make it fabric-friendly. So, we made all kinds of matching goodies. I printed muslin patches and sewed them onto a gingham/fleece blankie with satin edging; and printed onto some newborn onesies. I’d been meaning to try knitting baby socks, and I managed to finish a pair in time for the shower – with stranded-colorwork checker designs on the cuffs… which are hemmed with a knit-in facing to cover the loose strands on the back. No snagging on tiny toes!
Sometimes I feel like such a pixel-pusher. Meaning that I spend a lot of time in The Adobe Zone, tweaking user-interface elements that are about 25px or less. A lot of my work is for technology-related businesses, and let me tell you, their favorite color is blue! A nice, grayish, professional/corporate blue.
But, I have had the opportunity this year to get in touch with my pink side. I have 2 new projects to show in my portfolio, one of which is long overdue: Las Fashionistas. I actually finished this project around the new year. (You know you are busy with too many design projects if you don’t have time to update your portfolio!)
Sadly, the writers are no longer posting new material on this blog, but there’s a lot to be read in the archives if you have a fashion-related question.
The other one is hot off the presses, just launched last Friday. It’s a site for DBM Custom Handbags, and it was lots of fun to work on this project – not a blue pixel to be found.
Well, it’s been awhile… Things have gotten a little overwhelming lately. After the ski trip, BN came down with a pretty bad cold, and I was getting busier and busier with my freelance projects. Then, I came down with the pretty bad cold, but I still had to work. So I dragged the futon over to the desk, like when we do when we watch movies, and scootched the monitor over to the edge of the desk so I could see it from my slouching position on the couch. And the keyboard on the lap. And I designed a decent user interface for the client, in spite of the headcold. I think we need to get a laptop… not that I like to work when I’m sick. But I think it would come in handy on many other occasions.
I have decided that I’m never doing any web development ever again. I got in way over my head, with help from my new “client” – I’ve been subcontracting for one of my graphic design classmates from SJSU. That’s been going really well, but there’s a teeny bit of the “operator” factor, because I talk to her and she talks to the clients. So I got 2-degrees-too-far-in to the “delivering stylesheet and code” thing, which I have done before, but not really for a fairly complex web application. Point taken, lesson learned!
So, I have a lot of stuff to post. Some from before Christmas, even… I’m going to post quite a bit of catch-up stuff in the next few days. So scroll on down and check out what I’ve been up to, or what I was up to before my work life spilled over into my real life (the boundaries aren’t very well defined since I work at home…)
One of my Christmas projects – an inkjet/rubber stamp card with origami ornament and photo of the two of us. The theme was Light.
How was your HolyDay? Ours was really very nice… Too short, really, for all the things we wanted to do. We started our day by singing some worship songs together. We had played Santa for each other and filled up the handmade personalized Christmas stockings that my Mom had loaned us for our away-holiday. I got lots of candy, protective goggles for chopping onions (they really work – no more tears) and Napoleon Dynamite chapstick! I’m just like ND when it comes to being obsessive about chapstick…
Then we cooked a big breakfast. I made Crepes for the first time and they came out really yummy. They’re so easy, and so good! We enjoyed them with fruit sauce made from frozen mixed berries, whipped cream, and side orders of hash browns just like my Dad (the breakfast expert) makes, and sausages (with maple syrup of course.)
Next was presents. We had lots of boxes that had come in the mail from various family members. What a wonderful batch of gifts! Thank you so much, everyone. BN and I had decided to get ourselves a big shared gift this year – we are looking to get one of those kitchen “island” carts – for storage and use as extra counter space. But we did give each other several small gifts. By far the most special gift I received this year was the solid teak hand-carved comb that BN designed and made for me. It’s elegantly shaped and wonderfully smooth – he’d been sanding it every day while waiting for the bus. The wide teeth are perfect for detangling my damp hair (which is approaching waist-length after growing for 2.5 years!) and the teak wood is water-resistant by nature. I’m quite a lucky woman to have such a skilled and creative husband.
Our afternoon was spent talking on the phone with family & relatives, playing a favorite board game, Settlers of Catan, and before we knew it the time came to go to the K family’s home for Christmas dinner (with Figgy Pudding for dessert!) We had a great time and stayed up very late playing Pictionary and “speed Scrabble” with the K’s and their 2 teen daughters. It was a blessing to be with church “family” friends on Christmas.
See, Powerpoint makes it really easy to set up a consistent look/theme for your presentation. There are standard slide layouts, themes, a color scheme, master slides, and so on. But, once you have your design all set up and you’re inputting content, it’s actually more difficult to keep your design/theme intact than it is to set it up in the first place.
If you paste text into a standard, auto-text box taken directly from a default layout and/or your slide master, PowerPoint assumes, “why would you want this text to match your presentation theme? You most certainly want that text to carry its font, size, style, and alignment from wherever you copied it from, don’t you? of course you do.” I JUST found the workaround for that this week and I’ve been working with PowerPoint for almost a decade now.
All this causes problems for designers (or anyone) who sets up a slide template with a “theme” or “brand” for use in multiple presentations. In my opinion, consistency is usually what you want in presentations – they’re usually for corporate, marketing, or educational purposes and you want each slide to look similar to the others in the same presentation, and you want the presentation you’re giving this week to match the one you gave last week. So, I design a template and send it along to my client and they very quickly lose all the value I gave them by designing a standard, consistent look for the presentation. They paste in their content, rearrange, add/delete stuff, and there goes the template.
PowerPoint’s Microsoft Office suite-mate, Word, has a system for setting up styles for your documents. If something needs to be brought into line, just select it and apply the appropriate style. (The whole thing is not simple, has a stiff learning curve. But at least the capability is there.) Another Office standard, Excel, has “paste special” where you can choose to keep the source formatting if desired, otherwise new content will adopt the formatting of the Excel spreadsheet.
So it’s not like Microsoft doesn’t know about this stuff. They just forgot to think through the user goals of a PowerPoint user. Joe Shmoe, VP of Marketing, is in a hurry. He needs to pull together a PPT, ASAP. Oh, sorry, Joe. You’re going to have to fiddle around for hours if you want your slides to look nice. He doesn’t have hours, so another crappy PowerPoint presentation goes public.
One caveat: I don’t have the most recent version. Maybe they’ve cleared up all the usability issues in the current release. But I kind of doubt it.
Well, it happened again yesterday. In conversation about what I do, a friend asked, so what’s your favorite web site? What are the best-designed sites out there?
uhhhh… no answer. How lame! Here I am, a web designer, and I don’t even have a few good sites to cite – let alone a “KT’s hall of fame” or “my top ten.”
So, I’m starting a search. For well-designed sites. What do you think? Do you know of any sites that you think are top-notch? I think my criteria is it has to be usable, useful, and all that, but also look good. Distinctive, creative, appropriate… Help me out, ok?