Custom Portfolio Website

Hi there,

MKM Design Custom Portfolio Site

Screen Capture from my latest work: a website for MKM Design.

It’s been a little while since I posted, but there’s a good reason why. I’ve been working on building a website for a fellow designer, Ms. Mikelle Morrison, independent designer at MKM Design. Mikelle is a senior graphic and web designer who specializes in User Experience and Brand Design. She’s incredibly talented and was inspiring to work for, to say the least. As with many projects, seeing this one come to an end was bitter-sweet; on the one hand, I am thrilled to see the site launch and to have my client be happy with my work. On the other hand, I’ll miss our day to day interactions and collaboration. I do know, however, that Mikelle and I will stay in touch and talk often. I’m very grateful that our paths crossed and that we were able to work together.

Also…If you happen to listen to podcasts that center around design, you can hear Mikelle on The Deeply Graphic Design Cast, a wildly popular podcast led by Wes McDowell of The Deep End design firm. I find myself relating, laughing and being inspired by the speakers and topics each time I listen. It’s great stuff!

Below are screen shots of Mikelle’s homepage as well as a shot of her ‘Print’ portfolio page. The theme I started with was Wildfire from Themeforest.

Visit the Site

Homepage of Mikellemorrison.comHomepage of Mikellemorrison.comFooter of Mikellemorrison.comPrint page of Mikellemorrison.comIt’s been a great experience. I’m looking forward to many, many more. I was certainly not alone in making this project a success though. Mikelle gave amazing art direction and was a true team player. I also had an angel on my shoulder, Mrs. Lindsay Siegel Beckman of Stoke Interactive. Lindsay graduated from the same program I am currently in for my Masters Degree at Academy of Art University and has been guiding me in all areas of my career. We connected through the Alumni Association a couple of months ago and it’s been, as they say, history ever since.

Stoke Interactive

Stoke Interactive is a design firm that specializes in delivering web technology and branding solutions for socially conscious companies. Connect with them on twitter, @stoke_ntrctve, and—read more about them below…

We strongly believe that every company has an opportunity to change the world. Every small detail makes a difference, which is why we are dedicated to putting extra time and love into helping others that otherwise might not have a chance. We embrace the stories of your how your non-profit or company is bettering the world. It’s all about working together toward a common goal; a better tomorrow.

You’ll be hearing a lot more about Stoke in my upcoming posts as I start to work on projects with them. To put it bluntly…I’m STOKED. Pun intended.

Talk to you soon!

Jen

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Dress Rehearsal for Your Website…Using a Test Site

More of Jen's New Portfolio Site

Test Site: A Work In Progress

Hi there,

As a web designer and developer, one thing that I have come to rely on with my clients are test sites. Test sites are specific domains that I have purchased, and that I host on my server, that I use to build and test site architecture, functionality and design. I start by building all of my client wireframes on these domains so that my clients (as well as any other people we can recruit to test) can have a clickable blueprint of the navigation and layout of their future site to try out. This way, if there are any issues present, we can figure them out early and fix them so that we do not have to go through massive rebuilds down the line (which are time consuming and costly). Once we have established the site’s mapping, I’ll move on to adding functionality and design elements. It progresses in a logical way and I can collaborate with my clients through every step. Once we get the fundamentals established, I’ll migrate what I have or start fresh on their domain.
Using test sites is a fantastic technique; I started implementing them when I started freelancing. To be honest, it was a great way for me to ensure that I was on the right track and in alignment with my client’s goals. I didn’t have a manager or art director guiding me; it was all me and I wanted to put a system in place that ensured success.

As a side note, I also love to use test sites to push the limits of my web design skills. Here is where I want to “break” something and have it all go wrong. This way, I can work the issue, find a solution and be prepared should there be problems in the future.

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Designer’s Intuition: Knowing What Web Design Approach is Best for The Client

Hi Everyone!Pure Designs Logo

I apologize for missing you last week. I’ve been busy on a big project (golden pains) and needed to give it my full attention. Things are going well so, I made some time to write about something that is on my mind. Read on…

As I mentioned in a previous post, Content Management Systems (or CMSs) are very powerful web design tools that allow designers to build custom blogs, websites, landing pages and newsletters for their clients quickly and efficiently. While they are a great option, and often my preferred option, there are certain situations where they might not be my first design choice. In this post I’ll list instances where I feel that a CMS solution is best and, conversely, where a hard-coded option would be a better choice. This is by no means an exhaustive list; these are merely the instances that I work with most.

What I’ll talk about:

  • Blogs/Photo Galleries
  • Long-Term Maintenance: Client as Maintainer
  • More Than One Content Creator
  • Speed to Launch

Plus More…Read On

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Guest Post for Event Checklist Plus Home Page Layout Tips

Hi,Logo Graphic

I am so proud to announce that the team with eventchecklist.net recently asked me to write a post for their blog. Event Checklist is an amazing resource for Event Planning and SEO. There is a wealth of information there; please head over to their site and check out what they have. You won’t be disappointed!

Invitation Graphic

Below is an excerpt of what I wrote for them; From Invitations to Thank You Cards: Creating the Perfect Look for Your Event- Plus a Color Tip! The Color Tip you’ve seen in this post; the rest is brand new. 🙂

Event collateral, your event’s visual identity; invitations, menus, programs, participant guides, thank yous and now with the integration of the web and social media- web graphics, templates, email campaigns, pages, banners and ads. The list of possibilities goes on and on. Event collateral comprises a multitude of visual pieces that go a long way in not only spreading the word about your event, but also in communicating what your event is about and who is behind the event, such as the person or company hosting it. The effectiveness of these visual pieces can mean the difference in whether or not people will attend your event and, when they take you up on your invitation, if they will enjoy themselves and be thankful that they came. And that is what it’s all about, isn’t it? You want them to come, enjoy themselves and tell their friends about you.

Tips for an Irresistible Home Page Design.

On your website, the home page is the prime real estate. It’s that beautiful waterfront property that all of your content would love a piece of, especially if it’s above the fold. There are some key factors that must be in place for your home page to be successful and in this post I will go over them.

If anything else, these features need to be a part of your layout and design.

  • The Big Picture: Your Site Identity and Mission
  • Hierarchy: What is here and what can I do on this site?
  • Search Option: Prominently placed
  • Good Copy: Teaser headlines and your mission statement

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Custom Web Design, Logo Design, Brand Development…Want It All? Read On…

Hi everyone!Pure Designs Logo

I am SO relieved to say that this week cooled down. Just a little but it was much more bearable. My kids were able to play outside for a good amount of time without becoming completely exhausted. It was great to get some time to play with them. Life gets so busy that we often forget to take advantage of these little blips in time.

Speaking of freeing up some time…

This week I’d like to talk about a web design tool that is, in my opinion, a huge asset for business owners, event hosts, designers, developers…pretty much anyone who wants to share information of any kind online. The tool that I am talking about is a Content Management System, or CMS, for short. Content Management Systems are very powerful tools in web design that help with the organization and construction of websites and blogs. A few that you have probably heard of are WordPress, Drupal, DotNetNuke, and Joomla. They handle a lot of the back-end (web functionality, compatibility and coding) and file structuring work so that users can focus more on the visual aspects of their sites. I like them because I can build a website or a custom blog for a client and then hand over control of it to them. Once all of the pieces are properly in place, management is much more feasible. Even better, it allows that client to have a professionally designed website without a ton of residual maintenance fees.

Below is a screenshot of a site that I built for a client. Once I established and built the design, the client took over and updated from there.

Hair Artist Association LLCCMSs make it really easy for me to deliver a full-service, comprehensive design solution to clients in a fraction of the time it would take me to code a site from the ground up. I love that I can flex my design muscles and provide support in other areas of building a site and a brand, such as:

  • Information architecture
  • Custom color scheme
  • Custom graphics
  • Logo Design
  • Custom Newsletter Templates

…and so much more. Basically, we can focus on building your whole brand, your entire look and feel or personality, another huge asset as you go forward and compete in today’s market.

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The Vital First Steps You Can’t Miss When Designing Your Website

Hi everyone, Pure Designs Blog

I’d like to change gears in the next couple of posts and bring you into my workspace for a look at what you can expect, and what you should expect when working with any designer, when we work together on a design project. I tend to say that “the perfection is in the process” because when I am working on a design project, there are several steps involved that are vital to its success.

I know that I’ve been talking a lot about color in my recent posts. Definitely a BIG piece to the project and something I’ll get back to in the next post. However, before you build the design and incorporate color profiles, images and graphics, you need to determine the overall structure, layout and functionality of the website so that when visitors arrive they can easily find their way around and get what they are looking for as they admire the visual elements. These beginning steps are quite involved and are so important– that is why I’d like to talk about them with you.

Now, you’ll start to see some of my inner nerd come out here. The first steps in a web design project involve a lot of research, analysis and outlining. I love these steps though for the insight that they deliver as well as the value that they give my designs. I really rely on my research when I design. So, without further ado, I’d like to get started with the first four steps in the process (we’ll discuss the remaining steps, that involve visual elements like color and graphics, in the next post). They are:

  • Initial Consultation
  • Competitive Analysis
  • Site Mapping
  • Wireframing/Prototyping

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