mastering the web since 1997
My work style is rather pragmatic: I don't like to re-invent the wheel*). Instead I rely on tested and proven frameworks to create most web pages. Depending on the project I will either choose an established responsive layout, like here, or recommend WordPress as a content management tool, combined with a solid responsive theme, that I will customise to your requirements. This style of working allows more time for the finer details, and it guarantees you a web site which works well and won't cost a fortune.
I have never liked to design a complete web page layout in Photoshop and then convert it into HTML – an idea which originates from print design. Instead I always create a concept and then code pages and insert graphical elements as I go. Where possible I like to use HTML styles, like borders and shadows, instead of extra graphics just for effect. Years ago I gave up on the idea that a website must look picture perfect across all browsers. I thoroughly test that the look and feel of a site is relatively consistent across most devices, and that elements align properly, but if Internet Explorer really doesn't support a particular styling element then that's okay too… The result is a much shorter, faster loading code! With new mobile devices and responsive layouts this style of coding is finally gaining broader acceptance, as bloated code loads too slowly via mobile internet.
When it comes to the look of a page I tend to shy away from highly “en vogue” styles, as these become quickly over-used and dated. (Smashing Magazine published an excellent article about such “epedemics”) Do you remember any of these: glossy glass effect & reflection, “grunge style” (rough & artificially aged), peeling labels, colourful comic characters, stitched edges, ribbons, and the latest: cut-out cardboard figures? If used sparsely and in the right context, each one can be attractive, but out of context…
Mid 2012 I stopped advertising SEO as a stand-alone service, since Google is constantly shifting the goal posts. Importantly the basics of Search Engine Optimisation haven't changed much: write a keyword-rich page title for each individual page, match this with your headings and well written content, keep the page structure clean and logical, use image descriptions and link titles to your advantage, and the foundations for good SEO are laid. I take special care of these important aspects, and oftentimes provide clients with more help and tips.
Please find below some samples of my recent work. There should be much more, but in my first years I never thought to archive any of my work (I really assumed things would stay up longer for everybody to find), yet later I learned that pages and complete domains had disappeared, or things are so out-dated I would be ashamed to present them. I also lost a bunch of stuff with a hard disk crash in mid-2010. My writing and content creations are either very specific or I cannot show these because they are covered by confidentiality agreements (after all, these now form the content of other corporations' websites).
Icons on this page indicate:
Shopping Cart Design
Content Writing or Translation
Design for Print
Search Engine Optimisation
2014: our new travel blog design, based on the popular WordPress™ content management system.
A complete re-design of our website to bring it to the next level. This includes:
outline the desired features of our blog;
preplan the blog structure, required directories and corresponding menu points;
choose a suitable responsive theme, which would cater to our needs (I had to change this once early on);
test the theme in regard to load speed and other deciding search engine ranking factors;
customise the theme, which in its original is rather dark. I created a child theme and applied extensive changes to most CSS styles and font selections;
enhance the theme's functions with plugins;
finish and fine-tune the layout;
install a caching plugin to speed up page loading times and reduce server load. (This was a real headache, because in their factory settings all caching plugins would disable the server side includes for html pages of the archive, which reside on the same domain.);
add SEO plugin and adjust it accordingly;
secure the entire install to prevent hacking attemps.
Most of the initial development was done on a local WAMP server at home, only after extensive testing was the website transferred onto the live server. You can visit the dare2go.com WordPress pages here.
Our own travel blog, developed in late 2005. The main text section had to fit a 640 pixel screen, because some of our relatives had old computers at the time. Site incorporated SSI (server side includes) for footer and menu, tabbed layout (tabs for ‘Report · Maps & Info · Photos’. Now a familiar feature, back then rather new!), and a script to cache the photo galleries. You can visit the dare2go archive here.
2010: website concept for a company selling composite decking boards. Top of page incorporated an attractive HTML slide show to use “the real text” for SEO keywords (unfortunately this company didn't succeed).
2011: I'm not neccessarily proud of the design of this tri-fold brochure, but the way it came together. At 10am I was told about this job, at 6pm the same day the manager wanted to take the brochures on his flight to a furniture fair. So within less than 8 hours I had to
come up with a concept and design;
phone around to book a printer for the same day;
edge out the mattress photos;
find and buy required stock photos;
finish the layout, write all copy text;
get approval on the overall look;
and deliver the files to the printer.
…and I usually don't even do print design. It worked!
A responsive design which I created in 2012 for a Tatami website. Layout included
photo resizing within responsive paragraph width;
full page background image;
folding and resizing top menu;
automatically adjusting buttons.
Unfortunately this project stalled because the company did not supply all required photos and website text.
Please find more detail about this site here!
late 2011: complete design of a Big Commerce Shopping Cart for a small business which sells artworks for childrens’ rooms. This included
full page background based on Emu Art's paintings
editing of CSS and source files;
slide show on front page;
subpages incl. gallery and FAQ page.
Unfortunately the owner closed the business in 2014.
Some screen captures of the site here (large graphics!).
early 2011: customisation of a Big Commerce Shopping Cart for a local natural bedding business. This included
front page layout & header;
editing of CSS and source files;
slide show on front page;
design of sub pages and various graphics.
Please see the current Zentai Living shop here (somebody removed the slide show from top of page).
2010: landing page for a company, who had developed their unique template based content management system and offered complete packages: website builder and hosting for $16.50/month. With this layout all important information and call for action was supposed to be “above the fold”. For SEO all text on the page was “real text”, not part of graphics.
2010: software translation for online furniture retailer from English into German. I had to translate the screen output of over 800 variables and return a file in CSV format. Due to different word order in the two languages some sentences, made from a string of variables, came out a little “strange”…
2011: small Yellow Pages advertisement for local bedding shop, which specialises in natural latex mattresses.
Black & white 2 column ad.
2009, technical writing: creation of help file come manual for a CMS (content management system). I had to work through all features of the software, take relevant screen captures, create graphics, and then write easy to understand and cohesive instructions on how to use all features of the programme. I interspersed the instructions with practical tips, like image optimisation, short cuts, and SEO considerations.
This is a small site I did for my own business in 2009. The major achievement was that only with on-page optimisation I managed to get the site up on page one of Google results for most relevant key terms – all within only 2 weeks! I tweaked every element on the page, wrote all content with SEO in mind, and to my surprise it worked: for several important terms my site was on position 1 in Google's local search.
Small advertisement I created for my own business; I was working at the time as a Home Sustainability Assessor within the Australian Green Loans program. This ad was published in the free monthly local newspaper. Due to tight restrictions imposed by the government department running this program I had to have all wording pre-approved by the responsible government body in Canberra.
2010: entry for 99Designs competition. Photoshop website design for a German business specialised in Peru travel. The layout had to incorporate an iframe of fixed dimensions with booking engine.
2010: entry for 99Designs competition. HTML-coded website for ‘Casa Di Goethe’, a cultural centre come museum in Rome. The fuchsia shade was a given from their logo and printed material.
2010: entry for 99Designs competition. Photoshop website design for an American law firm, who offers specialised services to other law firms. (The only time I ever used several ‘ribbons’ on one page.)