I’m writing to you in the throes of the last scramble to get my website online before I pop over to Hong Kong, where the other half of my design team (read: my sister) has been stationed for 6 months.
Yes, what I optimistically thought would take a few hours one weekend certainly has taken longer, as all good things do.
This new website, although in the new framework I’m using, may not yet have all pages running smoothly, and so I do apologise if you come across an unformatted desert in the oasis of formatted pages. Although that’s a bit of a clunky phrase, it’s pretty correct – the formatted sections are mere oases compared with the pages I still need to tune.
But at this stage I thought, it’s important to be online – and it could be a chance to walk through some of my process with you, and involve you in my redesign.
So, why the new design?
I’d come to realise that my beloved side-scrolling website was not as easy to navigate on mobile; not because of the scrolling, but in particular the portfolio. I certainly love that side scrolling… It has been so hard to let go into vertical scroll here.
I also felt that The Grazing Elk had evolved to a point where I’d like to rewrite things from a clean slate. Make sure what I was saying was the message I wanted to say, update the visual design and concept of the site, and just play with some new tools to learn some things.
For example, I am very interested in continuous visual design, where one section morphs into the next section. I’m saying sections because whether horizontal or vertical, as you scroll, the big page is made of smaller sections. So it’s like bricks which build the site’s longer page. And I am a great lover of beautiful visuals, and visual puns or unexpected but fluid changes of subject. The current home page doesn’t yet express this particular idea yet because, well, it takes a lot of planning. Even an optimistic “oh, it’ll take a day!” person like myself does realise that what I want is probably a month-long process.
An example of what I mean then, is this pure poetry… of three columns seamlessly transmuting into an architectural photo, and below it, the space just opening out… (click through to see it in the website I saw it in and for full effect.)
So, that will take some planning to do well, and for now I’m just getting the website up and running.
Process 1: Home Page
Since it’s the most finished section, let’s start with the home page. My own preference is for large scale image backgrounds, which was prevalent in my horizontal scrolling website before now. I like the sense of distance, looking into rather than just onto the screen’s surface, and also to set the mood and conceptual background for the content.
Let’s start up the top. The current trend in websites, is often to have a large slider or call to action section, or a large image with words over it. I didn’t want to ask people to do anything here, because to do something would mean leaving the home page to go elsewhere. I decided against a slider, because I don’t particularly find them engaging, and also because of my fondness for the advertising principle of ‘reduce to 1 concept’, and multiple slides is not that.
Ideally, and longer term, I think I will create an interactive section, or an illustration. The joy of those ideas is that they are really expressive of who I am and who The Grazing Elk is, and also different and delightful.
What I chose for the moment though, was an image representing the cornerstone of what I do – help people to be a lighthouse for their customers through consistent, clear and expressive design through all their print and digital materials. The lighthouse theme is carried through the page, returning to it at the contact section, the important section of initiating conversation.
For my home page, in my previous website design I wanted to take people on a journey, tell a story, and spark curiosity. The horizontal scrolling helped represent exploring along a path to me, and I was keen to establish a journey rather than just stating what was going on.
In this new home page, the journey is vertical, in this first draft of the home page, it’s more of a clear statement of connecting to visitors and letting them know what I do. I want to make clear who I’d like to work with, and what I can help them with, so it’s easy for people to identify with what I’m doing, or see it’s not for them.
I’ve still kept background images to capture the feel of the story I want to tell: a website, branding, art, design, is all the means to an end, in a way. It’s all the means to getting freedom, and going out and exploring. For me, anyway. And for many of the people I work for too, whose businesses are not specifically location-based and they can work successfully while exploring and adventuring.
Good design helps because it’s passively talking to people online and offline all the time about what you do and attracting your clients or customers to you.
But back to the case study…
Since I’ve only just launched the new design I’ll be keeping an eye out for feedback, fixing glitches (if any, and there often is!) and gradually updating all the pages of this site to match the new feel. So if you come across something unfinished, it will be attended to soon!
I’ll continue this case study and let you in on design choices and procedures as new things are created here too. Next time, we will talk about the (at time of writing, unfinished) portfolio design.
Lift Coaching is a life, health and work coaching service. Kate Moore came to me asking for a logo and website – and we created all of the images and designs necessary for her to launch her business in 2013/14. It has been exciting working with Kate to achieve a consistent, uplifting feeling to her creations. (more…)
Born to Drive is a small driving school in Brisbane. When Heike first asked me about a website, she wasn’t sure she needed one, but had been told she should have one. So she wanted something very simple, just a few pages, and particularly showing herself and her car.
When Jim, of Jim’s Japan, first contacted me, the Jim’s Japan website was hosted using Google Sites. It was easy for Jim to create and update but didn’t have all the features he needed, such as in-depth design options and booking systems.
I suggested the move to WordPress, which would still keep the administration easy, but allow us to design all the visual aspects and features Jim needed. For example, exciting full-screen slideshow images featured on the home page, which link through to short feature articles on places and attractions in Japan.