Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

The Cobbler Syndrome

Monday, December 26th, 2011

As a web designer I am often embarrassed by the state of my own websites and I found out that I’m not the only one. Some of my web design friends have said that they haven’t updated their websites lately either. Lately? I haven’t updated my graphic design website since 2007. Gulp! That is terrible and I hate to admit it. My excuse, or at least what I tell myself, is that I’m so busy building other people’s sites that I don’t have time to update my own. I call it the Cobbler Syndrome: a web designer without an up-to-date website; it’s like a cobbler’s son who doesn’t have shoes.

Having a 4 year old website is akin to having a 4 year old razor; it’s dull and doesn’t do it’s job anymore, in fact it could hurt you more than help you. My KendraGraphics website advertises services that I don’t even offer anymore, such as motion graphics. My site still has some flash on it which I’ve been meaning to remove since I got my first iPhone.

When I dropped off some art cards at an art store recently the manager asked me if I have a catalog and I directed her to my KendraArt website. She said, oh good, are all your newest paintings on there? Um, no, uh, well, I haven’t had a chance to update it. Gulp! How embarrassing!

Today I was talking to my brother and his girlfriend about how blogging can help them with their search engine ranking etc and they asked me how often I blog. Gulp! I tend to blog only once a month or every few months. I want to blog more often, I just haven’t scheduled it into my time.

Maybe writing this blog post will motivate me to update my websites. Is this something that afflicts you too? Do you have areas where you help your friends or clients stay on track but you haven’t kept up with your own? Please comment if you do!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

SEO Must Haves

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Tonight I attended a “Search Engine Optimization For Entrepreneurs” seminar put on by the Okanagan Valley Entrepreneur Society (OVES).

OVES - Okanagan Valley Entrepreneur Society

It was a great talk and the discussion exceeded my expectations. There was a packed house and the discussion format was a moderated Q&A with 3 expert panellists:

    Chris Pinkerton – Digital Marketing Strategies
    Muriel Archibald – Search Engine Optimization and Positioning
    Daren Wride – Search Engine Marketing

The Top 3 Keys for good SEO (Search Engine Optimization ie. improving how you rank on search engines such as Google and Bing) that were discussed tonight confirmed what I already suspected:

SEO Must Haves

  1. Relevant High-Quality Content
  2. Quality Incoming Links from Relevant Sites
  3. Regularly Updated Relevant Content

Notice that the common theme in improving your SEO is to be RELEVANT!

Search engines such as Google are wising up and are no longer fooled by keyword stuffing (overuse of keywords which aren’t relevant to your content), paid links (paying sites to link to you), or other artificial “black hat” (spammy or unethical methods of trying to increase your page ranking) tricks.

By the way, a fourth key element which is not always at the top of everyone’s radar, but was brought up tonight by the panellists as another must have for good SEO, is:

    4. Keyword Rich Relevant Title Tags

Some other important points that were emphasized tonight were:

  • SEO takes time
  • be as authentic as possible
  • stay on top of it
  • define specific goals and targets
  • create a niche market
  • make your site authoritative on your subject

I learned a lot tonight (10 pages of notes worth!) and it just makes me want to learn more. If you would like to find out more about the seminar I attended or the panellists, visit the event Search Engine Optimization for Entrepreneurs info page on the OVES website.

Feel free to contact me if you’d like to set up a consultation on your website and help improving your SEO. If you have any suggestions or observations, please comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

Renderings for Log Home Company

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Pioneer Log Homes has contracted me to create the backgrounds and landscaping for their log home rendering. The images I create will go on their website to show perspective buyers what their designs look like in situ. The contract is a lot of fun because it is a blend of technical and creative which I love.

An example of a design they gave me:
This is what I did with it:

Here is the photo I used for the background:

Cutting and pasting images sounds easy, but this process is a lot more time consuming than you might think. It involves cutting around branches and leaves pixel by pixel:

As well as creating the background, I put objects in the foreground so the house looks like it is part of the landscape, such as the trees I added on the left. I colour corrected them to match the overall hues of the picture. I then add human touches like flowerbeds to make it more homey and reflections in the windows to show the sky and surrounding landscape.

Finally I add texture to the ends of the logs to make them more realistic. On the left is the before picture. In the middle is a version I use if the house is farther away and the one on the right is what I do if the house is closer up and I need more detail:
My renderings will be uploaded to their new website which they are launching in September. They will add more as they are completed.

Design for Crossfit Okanagan

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I customized a wordpress blog for a client and his new website is up and running at crossfitokanagan.com.


To make the blog I downloaded wordpress from wordpres.org and I installed it on my server space. The advantage of doing this is that all the photos posted to the blog will be saved in a folder on the hosting space and not in no-man-blog-land. If my client ever wishes to move his hosting or get a new blog he will not have to re-upload all of his photos.
It was a lot of work getting the blog to run properly since there were some glitches with the new release of wordpress 2.5. After long hours of searching on help forums and blogs, I found out that a snippet of code needed to be added to an .htaccess file on my server so that the blog would use php5. Now everything is working great!

Digital Image and Video Compositing

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

In my Digital Image and Video compositing class at the Centre for Arts and Technology we made a video for an ipod commercial. Our creative director came up with the concept and then it was up to us to conceptualize it. I spent about 100 hours on this project and that is not including the hours that my project partner Amanda put in or the hours of our actors, filmers, and sound engineer. A big thanks to everyone who helped us with this project!

We made our ipod commercial last year before the new touchscreens came out. You can see our version of what we thought their first commercial might look like:

kendraGraphics.com Website Launch

Saturday, August 11th, 2007

KendraGraphics.com home page

My new digital media design portfolio website

is officially launched at www.kendragraphics.com.

My graphic design website is dedicated to my digital portfolio including illustrations, web design and development, and motion graphics. If you would like to see my watercolour paintings, please visit my kendraart website.

If you are interested in my design or consulting services, have a look at my services page to see what I can do for you or your business. I look forward to working with you.

Design Seminar at the Life and Arts Festival

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

The Life and Arts Festival in Kelowna, BC, is an amazing cultural event with street performers, art shows, workshops, music, drums, lanterns and fireshows.

Fire Show at the Kelowna Life and Arts Festival
On May 13th, I attended two design seminars in the ‘Design for Life’ exhibit. In the first presentation, designer Phred Martin spoke about the evolution of a design project. He stressed that design is not all about the creator; design stems from the client and in order to acheive the best results it is important to research your client’s interests, goals, and their target market. It is important to really know what the client wants, and then to interpret their needs, make a decision and get going on it!

One of the ideas that stood out in my mind was when Phred said that “excellence is great”, but “perfection is ugly”. He said that in his work sometimes he strives not to make his designs perfect. Perfection can be cold and boring, whereas imperfection can be interesting and unique.

In the end, perfectionism will also cost you more money and eat away at your bottom line. Unless your clients want to pay for your extra time, you need to be able to wrap up a project confidently and be happy with your work.

Don’t overwork design to hardened perfection; walk away while it is still alive and fresh.

From my experience with watercolours, sometimes the best thing you can do for a painting is to put down your brush. It’s when you keep working on a painting too long that you mess it up. With design there must be a parallel.

Furniture designer Judson Beaumont said he looks beyond the obvious to keep his work fresh. He said you have to be able to take critism, but don’t listen to people when they say “you can’t do that” or “it’s not done that way”. He said comments like that make him just go ahead and prove them wrong. He said you should take chances with design and challenge yourself to try new things.

Star of lanterns made with tissue and jars by elementary school studentsThe panelists also talked about clarity of expression and how good design means that even if it is bare bones, you don’t feel deprived. Someone mentioned that “the more you know, the less you need.”

Many businesses want to put everything about their business in every advertisement, even if it is a 2 inch ad. By researching your client’s needs and being familiar with compositional strengths, a good designer can say a lot more with less. Done well, simplicity always gives a stronger message than clutter.

The speakers also talked about social responsibility and the impact of design on the environment and on society. It is important for all designers to look at their work from a global perspective. It is so easy to get enmeshed in your work. Take some time to pull back and see the whole picture.

In the end, the most inspiring part of the festival for me was the lantern display in the Island Park. Jars covered in tissue paper by elementary school students from all around Kelowna were lit with tea lights, and they were set about to adorn a gazebo and the path up to it. Glowing in their simplicity, colourful and bright, they lit up the night in their imperfect beauty.

Lantern display at the Life and Arts Festival: jars covered in tissue paper lit with tea lights.

function versus fashion…

Tuesday, April 24th, 2007

I am designing the portfolio pages for my website and I need to decide how to arrange the layout. There are so many different ways to present a portfolio page; some are fashionable and some are functional. Personally, I prefer function over fashion, but I want my site to look good too.

When you visit portfolio websites, what kind of layout do you prefer? Do you like big or little thumbnails? Do you like slideshow style views or do you prefer to see everything at once? Do you like it when a detailed image opens in a new window or in the same window? These are the kinds of questions I have been asking myself.

So far I have come up with a few different designs. Now all I need to do is narrow it down. Here are some rough drafts of layouts I could use…

layout 1
layout 2
layout 3

layout 4

Click here to vote in my survey, or just click on the word ‘comments’ below to send me your thoughts.

So, I’m putting the question to you. If you could control the layout of a portfolio page, what would be your must haves? What are your pet peeves? I would love to get some feedback from you on what you would like to see in a portfolio website.

the look and feel of it…

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

the template I chose
It is so fun having a new space to express myself in. I really liked the blog template I chose (it was green) but I wanted to give this page a look and feel that would go with my websites.

the butterfly I made in IllustratorI am so excited that I figured out how to put my butterfly over this layout at the top of the page. I am finally starting to understand divisions (in html). Notice how the butterfly (the one at the top of the page, not this one) is overlapping different areas, and it moves independently of the layout when you shrink or expand your window?
That is what a div can do for you!

I am so happy that I went to design school because I would not have known where to begin to change the colours and background images in this site. I guess I like having control over things like that… it makes it more personal and creative.

My First Blog

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

picture of meHi! This is my first blog.

Here you will be able to see what I am up to… like,

I am working on my new website which is officially set to launch on July 1st, 2007. You can preview it as I work on it at www.kendragraphics.com