Note - I was going to have this all be one article, but it was too big and I don't want to bore you. So! Part Uno will focus on the design and stragegy while Part Dos will focus on the dirty technical details - from HTML5 & CSS3 to Responsive layouts and ExpressionEngine programming. Part Uno begins now:
Have you ever climbed to the top of a mountain, cooked a whole pound of bacon, ate it, hiked back down and built a mansion with your bare hands? That's what it felt like redesigning the FortySeven Media site.
Version 1 of fortysevenmedia.com was super gray and boring (seriously, it was gray). We were afraid to be ourselves and thought that in order to make it as a design studio we needed to be stuffy, businessy and impersonal.
Next year we sat down and decided that if we were going to have our own company we should darn well act like it. With version 2 we overhauled the identity, made snarky pages like “Don't Hire Us,” created a blog and before we knew it, we were getting business from all over the place.
We had stumbled onto something, and quite frankly re-designing that kind of success is scary, especially when it provides for your family. The Lizard Brain was in full effect. We got talked about quite a bit when we launched the old site and we didn't want miss that magic this time around. Every time I sat down to work on it I just got overwhelmed. Could we make something nearly as iconic as the first go around? Turns out it didn't matter, because after waiting 4 years we were becoming obsolete. Don't get me wrong, the business was doing better than ever, but the jobs coming through the contact form were less interesting than they were a few years ago.
Pears is a great idea from the Simplebits and Dribbble mastermind Dan Cedarholm - Create common UI patterns with the HTML and corresponding CSS for basic styling for a quick reference too. I think we all do this to an extent with snippets in our code editors, but this goes a bit further “pearing” them together (see what I did there?).
Even more interesting, it's also an open source Wordpress theme so you can use the framework to make your own pears.
Those ConvergeSE guys have great timing! Right on the heels of our brand new site they've launched the conference site. Besides the awesome scrolling design and robotic battle dinosaurs (scroll down and see what happens to him!) the conference itself looks amazing.
Nate and I will be doing a workshop based on the Kicktastic project we're working on, so if you want to find out our secrets in person, register on February 16th. We'll try not to ruin the otherwise great list of speakers.
The ShopTalk show is a live podcast by CSS Tricks/Wufoo master Chris Coyier and Paravel pointman Dave Rupert. Chances are we'll talk about the Kick Awesome Show and maybe even this new website! Send in your questions now or join us live to pick our brains.
I never thought I’d be looking for a way to scrounge up the extra money to buy a thermostat, and yet here we are. Nest looks like a fantastic product from former Apple employees Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. Packed with all kinds of sensors, gorgeous industrial design and intelligent software that learns your routines, you can tell the details have been sweated over for a long time. Take a look at the installation guide to see what I mean.
Long story short, these guys are tackling a huge problem with current iterations of thermostats and helping us to save energy and money, all while making it fun. Go check it out →
Background gradients in CSS3 are a pain. Multiple syntaxes, color stops all over the place. And that’s just for a linear gradient. Anything other than that makes my head hurt. Thankfully Jumpzero has just released the beta of their Gradient App.
It’s a beautiful, simple app that makes it easy to select the exact colors you need, the direction and type of gradient, and then it spits out all the vendor prefixes you could possibly imagine. It will even do RGB and RGBA in addition to HEX codes. The UI is really great and I find myself actually enjoying making gradients. Who’d have thought?
I have no idea what Gradient will eventually cost, but you can grab it for free while it’s in beta. So go do it. Now!
As we’re working on a new version of the ol’ FortySeven Media site, we’re looking at putting together one of those fancy adaptive/responsive layouts. The one thing that has always seemed difficult was images. Even if you can scale an image down, you’re still probably loading the full size image on mobile which defeats the whole purpose.
The choice of a typeface, the care given to kerning and to readability—it all sends a powerful signal. When your business card is nothing but Arial on a piece of cardboard, you’ve just told people how they ought to think about you… precisely the opposite of what you were trying to do when you made the card in the first place.
I love that Seth Godin is bringing this sort of awareness to people who never thought about it before. And thankfully we’re smack in the middle of a type revolution on the web. It’s only going to get better from here.
Mac OS X’s built-in Archive Utility is a handy tool that lets you easily expand ZIP files downloaded to your computer. However, the zip files by default stay behind, leaving your Downloads folder cluttered. Luckily, there’s a way to modify the preferences and have the downloaded zip files sent to your Trash.
This has always bugged me, and I’m glad to finally have those zip files magically disappear after unzipping. Sometimes it’s the little things, you know? Thanks, Tony!
Here’s the deal: We’re making 50% more money this year and we want to let you guys (and girls) in on what we’re doing differently. It will of course be done in typical 47m fashion with loads of style and fun, but we need to know if you’re interested.
Here’s the thing. I really try not to gripe about things like an application icon. If it’s horrible you can always go make one yourself, right? But the Twitter for Mac icon saga warrants some kind of discussion.
In case you didn’t know, Twitter for Mac is actually sort of Tweetie for Mac 2. The difference being that Twitter hired the creator, Loren Brichter and so version 2 was aptly re-named. In fact, the original Tweetie for Mac was so good that many people kept using it long after it went months without updates and no promise of a new version.
It’s time for the semi-regular year end post from FortySeven Media! 2010 was a nutty year filled with lots of traveling, some great client projects and some even better personal projects. Let’s get started, shall we?
Speaking, Conferencing and Traveling
While we got our first taste of web conferences back in 2009, 2010 took it to a whole other level.
First off was LessConf in Atlanta. With speakers like Jason and David from 37 Signals, Cameron Moll, Chris Wanstrath from GitHub, Dan Martell, Clay Hebert and Peldi Guilizoni of Balsamiq we were energized and encouraged to keep making kick-awesome stuff.
Next was EECI2010 the US Edition in San Francisco. I got to speak at this one and we were reunited with a bunch of our old friends from the Leiden conference back in 2009. The city was fantastic and we even got to meet a few of our long-distance clients while we were there!
A few months back we were fortunate to get an email from the fine folks at .net magazine asking us if we’d like to write an article for their upcoming issue. Why of course we would!
Well, its finally out now and you can read all about our makeover process for Camden Military. We talk about the design process, photography shoots, the backend setup in ExpressionEngine, Wufoo form integration and the benefits they’re already seeing in traffic and conversions. Pretty exciting stuff!
Funny story. Nate and I started the Kick Awesome Show mainly to pull the suck out of Mondays. I mentioned I was frustrated with spending the entire morning answering emails that came in over the weekend (seriously, enjoy your time off, people!) and not ever getting much done in the afternoon. We’d been talking about ways to post to the blog more regularly and somehow we came up with spending Monday afternoons shooting a web show. We tried it and we’ve been amazed to see something we started for fun become watched by so many of you so quickly.
After just a few episodes we realized it was time to move it to it’s own site. Fortunately this gave us an opportunity to invest in some serious HTML5, CSS3, Typekit and Responsive design. And a bit of iPad magic, too. Read on to find out more.
Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your freelancing website, it’s time to make it produce some income! Read on for a few tips on how to make it awesome.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve come across a designer’s site and couldn’t find any information about them. No picture, no bio. Maybe a twitter account with some non descript avatar. Your clients want to know if you’re a real person - even better what you’re actually like. If you hate twinkies but love smooth jazz don’t be afraid to say it. Be yourself and be honest. No client will feel comfortable contacting you for work if they don’t feel like they know you.
We have a lot of designers email us and ask for advice. One common thread lately seems to be “How do I get my freelancing career going?” Well, thanks to the Internet there’s lots of ways! First let’s talk about your website. Are you getting traffic? What happens when users get there? Do you even know? If you’re having trouble making your website work for you then read ahead:
A Solid HTML Foundation
Obviously, if you want people to actually find and use your portfolio site it’s got to be built properly. Since most of you reading this build websites for a living I’m assuming you’ve already done this. If not - basically use divs, headers, paragraphs and lists appropriately. Let the search engines know what kind of content each piece is.