Website Re-design

The Digital Gallery Website

The Digital Gallery Website

It has been months since my last Blogpost. Since finishing my degree program at Franklin Pierce University I will have more time to write (in theory anyway). A project I had put on the back burner was a redesign of my personal Website.

This project had a couple major goals.

  • Switch from using Microsoft Expression Web to Adobe DreamWeaver CS3.
  • Create links in the navigation bar that went to photos, video and social networking site content rather than creating content in traditional Webpages.

This is a standards based Website using Cascading Style Sheets, Spry navigation menu’s and the Spry Accordion in the right toolbar. I also used the DreamWeaver “Image Viewer” control to create a Flash slide show.

I had fun making the banner image. I was able to experiment with making gradients in Photoshop in addition to using an extract filter to isolate objects from the background so they could be used in other graphics.

Map Graphics and Adobe Illustrator CS3

A few weekends ago I got the opportunity to spend some quality time using Adobe Illustrator to create new map graphics for work.

We had a graphic that showed the towns in our territory but none of the surrounding towns. It also did not show where we were located in relation to the rest of VT and NH.

My goal was to create a series of graphics with layers that would allow me the flexibility to customize the map depending on the project.

The project gave me the chance to experiment with the live trace and live paint features in CS3. I was able to make a tracing from two seperate state map graphics and place them together in one file. Since the tracings are not perfect (but pretty damm close.) I got some practice with the pen tool. Mastering the pen tool is essential to mastering Illustrator.

I eventually made a version of the VNA & Hospice territory map that showed only the towns in our “territory” and surrounding communities.  This will be better suited for the limited space on a brochure panel.

Overall it was a rewarding project which allowed me to get some much needed practice with Illustrator’s pen tool, the live trace and live paint tools.

The Value of Design: Reseach Behind the Project

 

You can learn something from every experience, and the Creating Impressions project was no exception. My project paid homage to the fantastic design work in National Geographic Magazine. I had the chance to study the design evolution of the magazine and learn about the Magazine Publishers of America.

Inspiration

 

As the deadline for submitting the art work was drawing near, I was putting some serious thought into a project theme. I was sitting on the couch, casually flipping through the latest National Geographic magazine when I realized how well the magazine is designed. I knew this was a theme I could build on. I started my research by looking through my collection of old Geographic magazines. The design had come a long way since since the first issue.

Design History

I started to look through a few of the older editions in my collection in addition to some online research. Looking at editions from the 1940 revealed the pages are filled with text in the same two columns throughout the magazine. Article titles are center aligned and in the same font as the body. It still had qualities of a “studious scientific journal.”

The book Graphic Design Today provides a few interesting design history facts about the magazine cover. The familiar yellow border and oak leaves and acorns “first gracing the February 1910 issue, was so successful that it remained intact with only minor modifications for nearly fifty years.” The designer given credit for this design is Robert Wier Couch of “Matthews-Northrups Works of Buffalo”. They were a “leading engraver and printer” of the time.

The book also mentions that the first cover photograph is on the July 1943 edition, which is one I have in my collection. Too bad it is not in good condition. If I remember correctly, the oak leaf border started to disappear during the 70’s and were pretty much gone by 1979.

 

Magazine Publishers of America

Magazine Publishers of America Logo

I also learned about the Magazine Publishers of America, which is a professional organization for the magazine publishing industry. I was not surprised to learn that National Geographic won three awards in 2008. A New York Times article explains,

“National Geographic won three National Magazine Awards on Thursday night, more than it had ever captured in a single year, including a prestigious award for general excellence the second year in a row.”

 

Project Theme and Message

The awards tell me that I was not alone in my high opinion of their magazine design. Good design has value because it delivers a pleasurable reading experience. Many people rave about the fantastic photo journalisim in National Geographic, but it is the designer that presents it with high impact.

The Show

The design project will be on display at Studio Place Arts in Barre until November 8th. Be sure to swing over to Barre and check it out. There is a fantastic stone sculpture art display on the first floor that is worth seeing. I noticed several interesting restaurants near the gallery if you wanted to combine your visit with a night out.

-Mark Karl

iStockphoto.com

istockphoto sample I recently discovered a stock photography Web site that I am impressed with. The site is istockphoto.com and is what I would consider a Web 2.0 Website. The stock photo inventory are from Website members. Perhaps this is why the photos are actually affordable! A large photo suitable for most print project sells for 10 credits, which costs $13.
I remember a great article about stock photography by Stephen. He discussed the pros and cons of using stock photography verses photos you take yourself. I found istockphoto.com when working on our spring appeal flyer. We were using anonymous patient quotes in conjunction with a photo of a nurse and child. For legal reasons, we did not want people to associate the quote with a photo of an actual patient from our photo library. In this case a stock photo was best. I’m just glad it did not cost a lot.
The other benefit of istockphoto is that photographers can upload and sell thier photos as stock photos. Like I say, it’s a true Web 2.0 site. It’s an eBay for stock media. You never know, it could be an additional source of revenue.
Has anyone else used this site? Do you know of similar sites?