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 ‘Work’ Category
I started the new year out with a new client. They are a start-up company, with all the fast-and-loose workday scheduling that implies. I have been learning a lot about how to set boundaries and keep my role as a remote contractor; not trying to pretend I’m right there in the office able to switch gears at any moment. (the to-do priorities seem to change about that often.) And the whole 8-hour workday thing… it just doesn’t happen when one works at home. But! I have managed to keep mostly on top of my workout regimen. I do wait for the sun to be well up, if it’s going to be, and I don’t go running if it’s pouring down rain. But, the coldest times in Eugene are when it’s sunny anyway… Luckily I have my newly hand-knitted hat and gloves to keep the chill off until I get warmed up ‘n sweaty on my way up hill to home. Also notice my lovely 2 layers of performance fabric: a “wicking” poly-thermal layer and a streamlined fleece on top. These are courtesy of M.I.L C A-P. But I picked them out, and yes, I did make sure they matched my new handknits. Jog On!
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…)
I have a hard time saying no.
I have this tendency, if someone wants me, to feel that I do (or should) want them in return. This shows up in stark relief at several points in my history – once in an astonishingly brief semi-dating relationship, circa 1998. Then, last month I was approached by an IT hardware/software company who wanted me to contract for a short while and move into full time. What a great opportunity! I should snap it up, right?
I’m great at agonizing. Last night I agonized over whether to order a BLT with soup or a burger with mushrooms plus home fries. (Waiters must hate me.) Then I agonized over what coffee-shop treat to get. (My husband gets impatient with me.) When I’m facing a big decision, the ability to make small ones just flies out the window.
I’m choosing: project variety, consumer-oriented products, public exposure for my work, schedule flexibility, portfolio building, more free time, a less career-oriented future.
I’m passing up: responsibility for and ground-up redesign of an entire IT-oriented software UI, a gain in usability engineering/user-centered design experience, full-time schedule, security, and benefits.
This would probably have turned out very differently if I was a man, a breadwinner, a career goal-oriented type. As it is, perhaps my next full-time, long-term job will be as a mom (someday) …
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.