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The cobbler’s children have no shoes…

White Label

I was speaking to a friend the other day and for some reason or another websites became part of the conversation. I was asked,

“What about your website? Where is it so I can go look and see?”

And I have to admit to them that it is in a horrible state of affairs—it has been over 9 months since I had written anything at all on the site. I told them that I’ve fortunately been too busy to do anything about my own website and they said,

“Ah like the cobbler’s children that have no shoes!”

And I said, “Precisely” and thought to myself how piss-poor an excuse that is.

In that moment I didn’t fully grok what just went down. A day later I get an email referral, they ask me to have a look at my work online, and the conversation above all came back to me.

Really? Had I forgotten about my own website all this time? Was I really too busy to update it, keep things fresh and relevant? No, I would look at it from time to time. I’ve had many things I’ve wanted to share and I’ve hatched multiple “ideas” to update it. I’ve thought about what I want it to be, and so on. However, all this thinking never produced any type of plan, or set of steps to get things going. I’ve never made it a priority really. In fact what is super embarrassing is the post previous to this that is 9 months old that talks about how the website overhaul is underway—well now it is.

I’m going to make this happen. An hour a day (or more if possible) until website is up to date. There, I said it or rather typed it out in black and white (not just a thought in the head). It has been far too long, and an update does need to happen to this website. Blog posts about changes may follow.

For now, I did find this question posted on Quora and thought I would share.

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A new portfolio solution in more than one place.

Ever since I started to focus on Berchman.com I realized that my former “company” website, HamiltonBerchman Design Group, Inc., was no longer maintained, correct, or relevant. However, at the time I was fortunately too busy to even think about doing anything to the site.

Then one day I was doing research on a project and stumbled across a free portfolio template that stood out to me in more than one way. The template is called medifolio, by Dirk Leys who generously posted it online. I was particularly drawn to the “sliding” action when you click on a portfolio thumbnail image, and the return to the main page. There was a simple elegance to the whole thing. I looked at it and thought, “how can I do this type of page in WordPress and Thesis?” The original medifolio is a single, flat html page. How could I generate all the content, in the right order, with the right tags and syntax? I thought about it a while. A long while.

In the time since I first saw medifolio I was working on a client project requiring the listing of individual portfolio pieces, complete with images and text. It required a complete custom solution. By creatively using categories as parents I created blog posts that then occupied specific categories. I could then create custom loops to not only create a listing of the portfolio pieces at the top of the page, but I could have them link to the actual full description and image display further down the page (by using custom generated anchor links). You can see the work in action here on the website ckwrites.com. There are four custom lists generated across the top of the page after introductory text. All done within WordPress and Thesis with categories and custom page templates, and custom loops.

Since I had completed design and development of ckwrites.com I looked back at medifolio and the previous experience lent itself directly to making medifolio a reality. After some long nights tinkering with custom php and css solutions I got the basic page to work as the original static medifolio page. All the content was being dynamically generated from individual posts for each and every portfolio piece. All the tags, divs, etc. were being dynamically generated as well.

Once I had a basic working model the next thing to do was to implement. I’ve done this right now in two places where it lives, live on the Internet. The first implementation was at HamiltonBerchman Design Group, Inc.

I set out to rework, or basically remove, all the non-relevant content from the website and was left with a stripped down, single web page that tells what the current state of affairs is, and shows a sample of work that I completed in my time operating HamiltonBerchman Design Group, Inc.

Once I had this complete, I wanted to take it to another place and that was on the Dennison+Wolfe Internet Group website where I am a partner. This implementation allowed me to refine and rethink some things to how the portfolio is implemented.

I think both of these came out looking quite nice.

It will be a part of the new, upcoming Berchman.com redesign.

My next step, I think, is to clean this up, write a tutorial on how to implement this, and release it on an “as-is” basis. What does that mean? It means if you want it, download it, and figure it out.

That is what I had to do. 🙂

Let me know what you think.

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A Website Realignment: Day 105: Content and Its Function

This next phase of the overall Re-Alignment of Berchman.com as I stated in my first post for this project is to “define purpose, guiding principles, and desired outcomes” with this website. Continue Reading →

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A Website Realignment: Day 56: Branding Berchman

This post is the first in what may be many video posts (ie., vlog posts). I am exploring new content formats so this may appear to be a bit ‘raw’ and unrehearsed, but it is real. I’m not reading a script (although you do see me look off and pause—I’m looking at a whiteboard with notes).

So, how does this fit into the “Website Realignment” you may ask? Well at this stage I am assessing content and its function and role in the website:

  • What types of content do I use?
  • What content formats don’t I use?
  • Are certain types of content suited to a specific format? (Tutorials are always text?)
  • Should I have more than one type of content?
  • Am I making this not simple?

So here it is. The first video post. I plan on these becoming higher quality the more I do them. Would definitely welcome your comments on using this format in the comment form below.

http://www.vimeo.com/6959125
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A Website Realignment: Day 45: Branding Berchman

Note: Recently someone asked to see all the posts from this series. They were reading the “Day X” as a series that was a post every day. Under that logic you would see there are many posts “missing” in this series. However, that is not the case. I am working on this project most days, between client work, and posting when I can. I have not posted in a while because work has picked up a bit. However, I have no plans of abandoning this effort. Stay tuned!

Making the Brand Visual

Now its time for the visual branding. This subjective exercise adds an element of challenge because whenever designers design for themselves it has the possibility of spiraling into a never ending reevaluation.

However, I have been thinking about the visual approach since I started this project. Paying attention to influences, likes, dislikes, colors, and typography for weeks now has allowed me to mentally prepare an ‘idea board’ in my mind.

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A Website Realignment: Day 12: Branding Berchman

The next step in branding Berchman.com is to develop a positioning statement.

From the brandeo website:

“Also referred to as a brand strategypositioning strategy, or brand positioning statement, a positioning statement is a succinct description of the core target audience to whom a brand is directed, and a compelling picture of how the marketer wants them to view the brand.”

I would adjust this for my purposes because I am developing a personal brand statement, not a corporate brand statement:

A positioning statement is a succinct description of the core audience to whom a your personal brand is directed, and a compelling picture of how you want them to view your brand.

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A Website Realignment: Day 9: Branding Berchman

I’m picking up where I left off on the previous post.  So far I’ve gathered adjectives 17 friends, family, and clients perceive as my personal brand. I’ve also identified adjectives I would use for my personal brand.  But what else is there that might have an influence on my personal brand?

  • My opinions, likes, and dislikes
  • What tools am I working with?
  • Who do I do business with?
  • Who is my target market?
  • What are my roots, my upbringing, where I was raised, etc.
  • What is my story?

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A Website Realignment: Day 8: Branding Berchman

Since writing the first post in this series I read a great article on A List Apart that spoke volumes to me about the process I am embarking on and documenting here. If you do not read alistapart.com I suggest you check it out. To summarize–I am not so much “redesigning” berchman.com as I am “realigning” berchman.com.

I am reviewing the goals and purpose of this website and ‘realigning‘ content and design to help achieve those goals. Initially when I launched berchman.com I thought nothing of ‘goals’ or ‘purpose’ it was just my personal website. The times and purpose of this website have changed. So I have changed the title from “A Website Redesign” to “A Website Realignment” because it more accurately reflects what I am doing.

The first part of realigning this website is defining the brand of Berchman.com. Berchman is me so subjective/objective issues are very strong with taking on this exercise. Berchman does have a brand in the eyes of the beholder, but up to this point-in-time I have never done any research to get to the essence of the Berchman brand.  Continue Reading →

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A Website Realignment: Day 0

Here is the beginning of what I hope to be a great series of posts. This series will chronicle—in as much detail as I can provide without driving myself or you crazy—the process of reinventing my brand and transforming this website in form and function.

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