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Graphic Design Down Under

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I recently returned from a holiday in New Zealand. The country is visually stunning! I was overwhelmed by the natural beauty countrywide, and I was also taken by the amount of bold, illustrative graphic design that lives almost everywhere. It was so prolific, it often set the stage, set a mood. If the graphic design in New Zealand could be labeled with an emotion, I would give it “zealous” and “happy” (which I’d also give to the people). That was paired with a sense of fun. Bright colors, positive feelings, very organized and again, almost always supplemented with illustration. Continue reading

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Web Page Load Times and Image Optimization

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One of the most important aspects of an effective web site is site performance—specifically how fast a page loads. Slow-loading pages lead to high bounce rates. (Bounce rates are people leaving your site.) While there are a lot of factors affecting page loading time, one of the most common is the size of images. Continue reading

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Content is King

In January 1996, Bill Gates wrote an essay titled “Content is King” (http://www.craigbailey.net/content-is-king-by-bill-gates/), which over time has become a mantra for the web. Like many sacred utterances some believe it and others challenge it. And I suspect most people haven’t read Gates’ essay at all. His basic premise was

“Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting.”

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Requests for Proposals

We get a lot of requests for proposals (RFP) for web sites here at HB Design. This post looks at two common requirements that are often stated in web RFPs:

  • The site should be easy to find in common search engines like Google.
  • The site should have a non-technical content management system (CMS)

These are admirable goals, but are not necessarily easily achieved. Let’s look at each. Continue reading

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Managing fonts with the Google Web Font Loader

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What is the Google Web Font Loader?

To understand what the font loader is, you first need to understand using web fonts. With the @font-face CSS rule, you can specify fonts to download for your web page. This CSS rule was first part of the CSS2 recommendation but was not widely implemented by the various browsers. Today it has much wider support. There are still compatibility issues. Different browsers and/or versions support different font file formats, although, modern versions of browsers and tools such as the Google Fonts makes using fonts much easier.

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Lessons in Graphic Design

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Design is found almost everywhere in nature and in things man-made. And when we see good design, we notice it. It speaks to us or resonates with us on some level.

Good design is a wonderful thing that people respond to without quite realizing it. The color of a package invites you to pick it up. The placement and color of a logo catches your eye. Different sizes and placement of text lead you to read a message in the appropriate order. These are all purposeful decisions, made by a design professional, that lead a viewer to an intended action. And make a design effective. Continue reading

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Creating a New Web Site: Goals and Audience

There are two key things you need to think about when creating or redesigning a web site. Those are

  1. What are your goals?
  2. Who is your audience?

Start with identifying your goal. Answer the question, “why do I want a web site?” What is it that you want the site to accomplish? For many business sites, the answer may be to increase awareness of your company, or to generate sales leads/contacts, or to sell a product. Those are all admirable goals, but identify one of them as the primary goal. Let’s look at how those different primary goals may change the design process. Continue reading

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A New “Impression” on Letterpress

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A few months back, our creative director envisioned a unique way to transform past blog posts into visually compelling posters, or “broadsides,” as art. A broadside is a sheet of paper printed on one side. Historically, they were letterpress posters announcing events, proclamations, or simple advertisements.

Our creative director identified interesting quotes from our BlogSide and provided one to each of our designers. All designs were drawn from traditional letterpress poster design. The challenge was to see how each designer worked with their content within the boundaries of an 18″ by 30″ poster. When the five colorful broadsides were finished, it was remarkable to see how each designer interpreted their assignment. Continue reading

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Comparison of Browser Web Development Tools

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As a web page developer, I rely on web browser-based development tools like Firebug. Over the years each browser as improved their built-in tools, so I thought I would write a series of posts looking at features I find useful and comparing that feature in each of the browsers’ development tools. I will compare Chrome, Firefox, Firebug for Firefox, Safari and IE.

The first feature I want to look at is CSS editing in the web development tool.

Often I find myself using the development environment to tweak the CSS code for an HTML element. This might be something simple like increasing margin or padding, or adding a new CSS property to an existing rule. Then I copy the changed CSS back to my code base. I often will sit with the graphic designer and make tweaks interactively with them, increasing margins on an element until the designer yells “Stop.” Being able to do that in the development tools and easily save the changes to the source code is nice.

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Michael Graves Lecture (The Portland Building)

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I am not any kind of designer, but my mom is a graphic designer. I have been influenced and nurtured by her from the start. I can appreciate design and I think I can also look at art and design and effectively explain to others how I feel about it.

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and remember vaguely when The Portland Building was built. I was a medium-sized child when it was built and I wasn’t aware until recently that back in 1980 there was a competition to win its design, or even that Michael Graves was the one who designed it. I knew that name—Michael Graves, architect—but I didn’t know that Portland was so connected to him. Back then I remember hearing how people did not like the building, that it was ugly. It was too much, too different. Whatever your opinion, it has become a landmark for our city. Continue reading

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