Blog Archives

New Web Work: rbabyfoundation.org

New R Baby Foundation Website

Every now and then, a project comes along that we get really excited about. Last Spring, we suggested a website overhaul for this wonderful nonprofit, R Baby Foundation, which works to make emergency rooms better prepared for infants and children. We had been working with R Baby since their inception in 2005, helping them to evolve their brand. The nonprofit grew and thrived, but despite incremental improvements over time, their website did not keep up. By 2015, they had a home page that was choking with content and an outdated navigation that gave them 0 flexibility to showcase the growing work of the organization.

BEFORE

rbabyfoundation.org BEFORE

AFTER

rbabyfoundation.org Redesign

Aside from the outdated look of the website and lack of storytelling, it felt static and heavy. The client was also unable to make any edits to the website content and relied on us for all updates. So, spurred along by Google’s incentive to build mobile-responsive websites, the time came for the client to take the leap. We reorganized the website architecture, designed simple but elegant pages, and built an easy-to-use mobile-responsive WordPress website with a custom theme. It was important to the client that the heart of the issue is front and center, and that we show hard data that relates the scope of their work.

You can visit the new website here: www.rbabyfoundation.org.

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New Work: LiquidX

LiquidX Business Cards

LiquidX Business Cards

Our new fintech client, LiquidX, Inc., kept us very busy through December and January. Before the holidays hit, we switched to high gear in order to pull together a logo and corporate identity — delivering business cards to the client in two weeks. While this is never our favorite way to work, they were great decision-makers, and the process went very smoothly. I’m tickled by how the logo turned out.

LiquidX Website

LiquidX Website

We moved on to designing their website in January, completing the launch on February 8. Many thanks to our wonderful web development partners at Shero Designs on their professionalism in our tight turnaround. They were able to figure out a tricky home page slider that utilizes video with layered text and still images.

Check it out at www.lqxinc.com.

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Launching a Film for a Great Cause: The Noble Spirit

I’m going to tell you a little story that helps explain why I haven’t posted in several weeks.

On a beautiful, sunny but windy day in July, I was sitting on a beach in Rowena, Oregon, with my laptop working, of course (what else would I be doing on a beach?), when an older gentleman in a wetsuit sat down near me. Near enough to say hello and ask me what I was working on. We struck up a casual conversation — as strangers do on a beach — about the strength of the wind (very popular topic in the Columbia River Gorge), the kite surfers (also popular), and my boyfriend-at-the-time who was out there windsurfing while I was working on the beach. I had no clue that 14 years later, this stranger would be struggling to live with Lou Gehrig’s disease, or that I would be doing my darndest to promote a documentary about him in order to help him reach his goal of raising as much money as possible for ALS while he was still alive. Over the years, he had become one of my dearest friends — my family on the West coast, in fact. I discovered that during this hardest part of his challenging life that I’d do anything for him, because he’s always done so much for me, and the many friends he’s made across the world.

Melissa & Fred on my  Birthday Party in Portland, 2003

Melissa & Fred at my Birthday Party in Portland, 2003

Before Fred was first diagnosed, we knew something was going wrong with him — he was tripping a lot and had difficulty walking. But he’d had a terrifying paragliding accident a few years earlier that almost killed him (3 times) and cracked his pelvis in half, so we thought the problems were complications from that fall. In December 2010, he got the news that it was ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease. I can’t tell you what ALS stands for, and no doctor or scientist can tell you exactly what causes the disease, nor what will cure it. It’s a terrible diagnosis, not only because of what it does to the body but because there’s no fix for it. It’s a slow deterioration and suffering until death. Fred’s body has slowly been shutting down on him over the last three years while his mind stays sharp as ever.

Fred Windsurfing in Brazil, 2002

Fred Windsurfing in Brazil, 2002

For Fred, this is the worst thing that could happen to him — worse even than a fatal drop paragliding,  a deadly crash while wilderness skiing, a murderous confrontation while traveling in an exotic land, or a life-ending fall from the tall towers that he spent his working life building, climbing, repairing. Fred is a do-it-yourself, super-capable kind of guy. When you’re Fred’s friend and you find something that you can do for him that he needs help with, it’s supremely satisfying. In these last years, he’s had to learn reliance on others and to let them take care of him. I suspect that this has been the hardest challenge of all — letting go of the idea that he can do anything himself. When you’re bound to a wheelchair and you lose the ability to feed, clothe, bathe, relieve yourself…you’re forced to face this. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier. As Johnny Cash sings, “It all goes down in your mind.” That can be a steep mountain to climb, especially when people stop understanding what you are saying because your speech is so impaired.

Melissa & Fred, July 2013

Melissa & Fred, July 2013

Once Fred accepted that he had ALS and this was the way it was going to go, he got busy making plans. Not plans to die, but plans to do as much as he possibly could while he lived. He met up with the local ALS Association chapter and decided to put on a fundraiser that was close to his heart — Ski to Defeat ALS. The event has raised $500,000 in three years. Although Fred is no longer able to ski on his own two legs, he’s already mastered the sit-ski which is evidently as much a blast. He trained for the fundraiser by heliskiing in the The Bugaboos. On the sit-ski.

Bugaboos_20120327_3043

Fred wilderness skiing, 2012. Photo by Andrea Johnson.

Next, Fred decided it would be cool to make a movie that documents his experience with ALS so that it could be used for additional fundraising after he is gone. Thus, The Noble Spirit was born. A film crew followed him around for three years and made a beautiful tribute to him, designed to inspire courage and generosity in others — traits we can learn to cultivate from Fred. Here’s the trailer:

That brings me to the point of this post. For the last three weeks, I’ve been working my tail off to pull a website together for the film release, www.thenoblespirit.org, update Fred’s blog, organize the Facebook page and connect it to the Twitter account, create posters and flyers and other promotional material, and of course create the email campaign. All those things I do every day for my clients, but in this case they are the most important things I could ever do. To honor my friend.

BBQ2013-1-SM

Fred at our annual summer BBQ. He is a total chick magnet. Still.

Fred’s lived his life by the mantra of “never say no,” and it’s been chock full of fantastic adventures, wonderful friends across the globe, satisfying successes and a few painful accidents. By all accounts, his has been a life to be envied and modeled. I myself learned that I don’t have to work while I’m sitting on the beach. It’s OK to put the laptop down and have a friendly conversation with a total stranger. Who knows? He may just be one of the best people you’ll ever meet.

The film The Noble Spirit is slowly rolling out, mostly on the West coast right now. You can keep track of screenings here, or follow our Facebook page and we’ll keep you updated. And remember, as Fred always says: Every day is a gift. Enjoy!

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2013 Wrap-Up: Our Creative Year in Review

For me, 2013 was kind of a slog. But despite the challenges this year brought, we got to work on some very awesome projects. Here’s what stands out.

Wwwordpress!

2013 brought responsive design and some really great WordPress themes that we designed for clients — seven total, five that have already launched.

Stylo Furniture & Design Website

We helped Stylo Furniture & Design launch their first e-commerce site, powered by WordPress.

townecrier.com

Our local client Towne Crier Cafe opened in Beacon in October. We designed the new website in conjunction with the grand opening. Full site coming soon. View site »

lisacuemanphotography.com

We helped our one of our favorite animal photographers Lisa Cueman launch her new portfolio site and blog this year.

mpoweroregon.com

Portland client MPowerOregon launched their new site in June. We also helped pull their logo and corporate identity together.

Branding & Identity Design: Alexander Project Services

What’s more fun than a branding and identity design project? One where we get to rename the company! This project also included a website (more WordPress), the proof of concept which drove our design. Read more about the project here »

Alexander Project Services Stationery

www.alexanderprojectservices.com - launching any day now!

New name, brand identity and website for Alexander Project Services (formerly BAF) in 2013.

Event Branding: Windows on Main Street 2013

This year was the 100th birthday for Beacon, and my town celebrated in style. We jumped on the bandwagon with Windows on Main Street and created a retro branding theme for the 2013 version of this annual community art event. The branding brought high visibility to the event!

WOMS Main Street Banner

Banner in the middle of Main Street announced our presence with authority!

WOMS Coasters

Coasters were distributed in all the pubs through the summer to promote the event.

WOMS Ad in The Paper

We even did a wee bit of advertising this year.

New Product Launch: MinderPet

This might have been my favorite project from 2013. It hit our sweet spot of combining product development, branding, and communications design. Read more about the project here »

MinderPet Packaging

Logos

And finally, a few new logos…

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Web Design: 5 Trends from 2013 that Won’t Go Away Any Time Soon

Just when you think you NAILED that website, another technology comes along to make it seem outdated. It reminds us that the web is fluid and changing all the time. It’s not like print, where you print it and it’s done. In fact, don’t bother looking at many of the websites I’ve used as examples this year because they’ve been redone already. Evolved. Improved. That’s our goal. But we are still talking about some trends that were hot at the beginning of the year, I think they’re here to stay. For now. So get out your notepad and start your New Year’s resolutions to keep up with the fast pace of the www.

#1. Responsive Design

At this point, we are building our WordPress sites with responsive themes. It’s not SO much more to build it this way, and it sure makes user experience better for everyone. What is responsive? The site changes layout to accommodate different sized screens, so it looks good on a phone or on a laptop. Rather than having a mobile version of your site, the same site displays slightly differently on the phone. Looks good and works well.

Lisa Cueman Responsive Site

While lisacuemanphotography.com displays just as well on your phone as on the laptop, I’d recommend taking a moment to browse on your laptop because the images look so great at a larger size.

#2. Web Fonts & Typography

As the number of web fonts increases, the happier I get! Even though this isn’t exactly NEW news, I’m including because I think my clients don’t realize how freeing this is to the designer and how much fresher their website will look with better typography. Whereas previously we had to design text on a website with the tired system fonts Microsoft deemed good enough to look at every day (ie., Arial, Times New Roman, Georgia, etc.), Google has upped the game by providing free web fonts to choose from. So I’m a happy designer and you’re a happy reader.

Design@Work

Why does DESIGN@WORK look so dang slick? Because we’ve used the web version of our corporate font, Avenir. Yippee!

#3. Big Ole Buttons

Because, really, who reads anymore? The contemporary web viewer wants to get where s/he wants to go on a site STAT. So we work to predict where that may be and send them there ASAP. OMG! Another good case for rapid technology iteration and paying attention to your analytics. Know what I’m saying? No? Let’s chat.

BirchwoodCenter.com

Client Birchwood Center did their homework and knew they wanted their clients to get to their membership specials first and foremost. So we featured them on the home page with big ole buttons. Can’t miss them!

#4. Scrolling, Scrolling, Scrolling

I’m not saying everyone should jump on the scrolling bandwagon. An “infinite scroll” — when one keeps scrolling and content keeps loading —  is great for loading products or a social media feed. Parallax scrolling is used to suggest depth and dimension, which is great for the web and helps with storytelling. Both types of scroll are useful for certain things, and lots of cool effects can be done with them. But first let’s focus on what we need to get done with the website, then we can decide if that’s the best way to go about it.

Walking Dead

My personal favorite example of parallax scrolling: behind the scenes of the Walking Dead. Shows how the actors get zombified into “walkers.”

#5. Static Headers

Perhaps on the heels of the scrolling trend is the static header trend: when the header containing the logo and navigation stays in place no matter where you are on the scroll, stuck to the top of the browser. I’ve long been a fan of a footer stuck to the bottom of a screen for the same reason — it’s there when you need it, but out of the way. You’ll also notice a rise in static sidebars — where the sidebar stays in place as you scroll down a page. Better functionality is always fine with me!

amandajones.com, in progress

The new amandajones.com, currently in design, will utilize a static header so the user can use the navigation no matter where s/he is on the page.

Overall, I prefer to pay attention to technology and usability trends over design trends. They are typically innovated for a reason — to make life better for us on the web. While I love design, it can be fickle and change so much that the look of something can be outdated in a year. Technology trends are typically replaced by something better, which is good for all of us.

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