Spring Break

A Picture Summary of My Spring Break So Far

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Not this . . .                                  But this

I am supposed to be on vacation now, but my mind is still at work trying to figure out what to do for my GCOM 360 final project. For this assignment, I am supposed to design my own custom website or mobile app user interface. I can create any type of website I would like to.

This is a brainstorming list of things going through my head as I try to narrow down a theme and purpose for my custom website.

1. While I should think about what I would like to do, I also have to think about what I can actually do. I do not know very much HTML code at this point, and I am not sure how much I will be able to teach myself in the next few weeks. I have to plan on a home page and at least two subpages with limited functionality at best. What kind of website would look best under these circumstances?

2. I would like to try out a few specific techniques for button development and text effects. What theme would allow me to do this?

3. I think I am leaning toward a website designed for someone else than one designed for myself. I am more comfortable designing projects for other people even if they are not real clients. I am not sure if the five weeks left in this semester is enough time for a personal website. I do not want to rush doing something important to me like a personal portfolio website.

4. I would like to choose a theme that’s fun! While I liked redesigning the Sacramento Public Library website, I felt I had to be conservative and restrained in my design approach so that I would not scare off or confuse the library users. I know I still have to consider my audience for this design project, but I think I have a little freedom to work with a theme that is a little unconventional or unusual. I want to enjoy this freedom.

Well, my brainstorm is over for now. The dark clouds of uncertainty have parted but only slightly. I will keep you posted about what I end up doing.

Picture Credits:
Word Holiday In Sand by Petr Kratochvil

Help by Kosta Kostov

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A Starting Point for Creating an Online Portfolio

Internet Browsing by Petr Kratochvil
 

As I get closer to finishing my graphic design coursework at Sacramento City College, I have become more interested in putting together an online portfolio of my work. I have learned from teachers, other students, and job postings that an online portfolio is vital to your graphic design career. Employers want an online link to your work, and some of them won’t even consider your application without one.

I have put off creating an online portfolio mainly because I did not know how. My specialty is print design, not web design. I thought I would have to be a web developer in order to create my own website. I am so glad to find out that this is not the case.

Although WordPress is well-known for its blogging sites, it works well for online portfolios too. WordPress offers a number of portfolio themes. While some of the premium ones cost money, others are free. Dustin Betonio provides a helpful overview of these themes in his recent Tripwire Magazine article called “60+ Excellent WordPress Portfolio Themes.” In addition to the themes, Betonio provides some links about building an online portfolio and some additional WordPress resources.

Can you guess what I will be doing this summer?

HTML Coding Experiment

Quotes about Design

Quote 1

Every designers’ dirty little secret is that they copy other designers’ work. They see work they like, and they imitate it. Rather cheekily, they call this inspiration.

Aaron Russell

Quote 2

Good design goes to heaven; bad design goes everywhere.

Mieke Gerritzen

Quote 3

Design is the search for a magical balance between business and art; art and craft; intuition and reason; concept and detail; playfulness and formality; client and designer; designer and printer; and printer and public.

Valerie Pettis

Quote 4

It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

—  Steve Jobs

Source: designwashere

Free WordPress Resources

Don’t have time to search for free WordPress resources? The good news is that Smashing Magazine has done this for you in “Useful WordPress Tools, Themes and Plugins.” Look at some WordPress themes highly regarded by Smashing Magazine, including “Spectacular” and “Suburbia 1.1.” You can also learn more about the Event Organizer, Ninja Forms, and other free WordPress plugins. Enjoy!

Sleepless in Sacramento Because of My WordPress Blog

The work on my WordPress blog was due, and I looked at what I had on the screen. It met the minimal requirements, but the problem was that it was minimal. I still had another week to work on it, but I did not want to wait that long to do something interesting with it. I had only one night to make some last-minute changes before it would be seen in class along with other students’ work as part of a “progress check.”

I thought adding a custom background would be quick and easy to do. I was wrong. In WordPress, some templates create backgrounds by presenting one photo as a series of repeating tiles. As I experimented with different images, I learned that some photos tile better than others. For example, images of objects appear as multiple squares or rectangles and produce a “compound eye” effect that mimicks insect vision. A housefly might appreciate this look but not the visitors to my blog. I decided to try something else.

I thought a pattern might be a safe bet for the background. However, I found out that I had to be careful with patterns too. Some patterns tiled nicely in the sense that they joined together in one continuous image. Unfortunately, some of the patterns were so bright and colorful that they drew attention away from my content. I tried to tone them down by reducing their opacity in Photoshop. They looked faded in a unpleasing way and were still too distracting. I eventually worked my way down to a white embossed paper pattern reduced to 30 opacity. It should have worked except for the fact that the template I chose did not have a solid color background layer behind the text. The pattern interfered with legibility of my content. In addition, it looked like I papered my website over with a bunch of doilies. This was not the look I was going for. I was not trying to sell vintage clothing or antiques. After a vain attempt to spice things up with a simple change in background color, I did something I was reluctant to do at such a late hour: chuck the template and replace it with a new one.

It took me awhile to find another template. I thought reading the descriptions of each template to decide which one to use would be a time-saver, but once again I was wrong. I soon discovered that it was quicker to hit the “preview” button for each template. At least I had enough sense to select the “A-Z” organization of the templates so that I could do a systematic process of elimination during my search. I decided on the “Pilcrow” template mainly because it has a solid color background layer behind the text. I also decided to compromise and use the custom header and embossed paper pattern I placed on my previous template. My blog still had the appearance of a vintage clothing or antique seller website, but at least the text was legible. I tried to console myself by thinking that this was not my final blog design, and I could do something more with it later.

It was 3:00 a.m., and I was just about to go to bed when one of my cats slipped out the door as I was letting the other one in.  I was tempted to spend a few more minutes fiddling around with my blog while I waited for my cat to come back in. A few more minutes turned into half an hour, and I was still working on my blog even after my cat returned. Maybe she left because she hated the design of my blog too.

The tasks of searching, cropping, and enlarging images kept me awake while everyone else slept. The desire to give my blog a more contemporary look made me forget my fatigue. Dawn broke when I finally shut off my computer. I was tired but happy that I freed my blog from its nineteenth century mood, and I hope the people who visit my blog are happy with the end result of my long sleepless night too.

Welcome to My Blog

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LED Open Sign by Petr Kratochvil

 

Hello,

My name is Arlene. I am a Graphic Communication (GCOM) student at Sacramento City College. Creating this blog is an assignment for one of my GCOM classes. However, I hope to do more with this blog after I finish this class. I am thinking about using this creative space as a place to showcase my design work. This WordPress site is free and seems like something I can manage to maintain. I also think it is a good transitional step to more advanced web design work.

Another benefit of setting up this blog is that it will help me demonstrate my skill at using WordPress. When I look at job postings, I notice that some employers are seeking applicants who are familiar with using WordPress. I am glad that I will now be able to provide a prospective employer with a link to a WordPress site if I need to.

I plan to make more changes to this blog in the immediate future. I hope to improve the appearance of this site as I learn more about and experiment with the different features available in WordPress.