Month: August 2009

The Mission Church of Boston site redesign

I’ve worked with PK of Imperial Consulting on several different projects. One of our recent projects was a site design for The Mission Church of Boston where I provided the site design and HTML/CSS and PK hooked in the content management system and other nifty back-end features.

PK IMed me this morning letting me know that there was a huge traffic spike because apparently that is where Senator Kennedy’s funeral is taking place this weekend. I made sure the site was still looking mostly polished and decided this would be a good chance to finally motivate myself to post another design process blog.

The Mission Church is a huge Boston landmark and still functions as a church, but the original site didn’t really do it justice. Here’s a screen shot of what the site looked like originally:

Old Mission Church site

After finding out the main things they wanted to feature on the home page, I came up with four different design ideas.





This provided the church a starting point for discussion. They decided that they wanted a briefer header — no big image at the top — but they liked the use of photographs for the four different sections. The next iteration resulted in this:


As it so often happen with “design by committee,” the discussion went full circle, so a photo went back into the top and the layout dimensions shifted again. I also made a design choice to colorize the photos so that they blended better visually and toned down the overall look of the site. I can’t remember why we went from the parchment letter in the left column to small icons, but I like it better below.


The final change was to add a background color to the page and make the content area pop out more with a drop shadow. We tried white, yellow, and blue. They picked blue.




The transition from full control over HTML/CSS to CMS-generated content (content management system) went fairly smoothly with only a few minor tweaks. Here is the site as it stands today:


As usual, I appreciated PK acting as the manager and middleman so that I didn’t have to sit through hours of design-by-committee meetings. 🙂


For those of you who don’t follow my boring daily life personal blog, one of the big things this spring/summer is that we got chickens! We designed and built our own chicken coop after perusing lots of examples online, special-ordered some vaccinated chicks from a local feed store (an Australorp, Rhode Island Red, and Black Sex Link), and jumped feet-first into the world of urban chicken owners.

Here’s the link to my chicken flickr set, but I’m posting some of the better photos below…

My original sketch:

The framed coop, below. Not all the walls were quite square, but you can’t really tell in the photo how much frustration was involved in trying to get them kind of square.

The framed pen, which juts out at an angle away from the house wall because of some uneven ground next to the house. We didn’t think about how this might cause problems when it came to putting on the roofing material…

First day with the chicks! We named them Mrs. Jones (top black), Ela (“Egg Laying Animal, bottom black with white patch), and Tamale (brown).

The completed coop and run, after much sweat, tense moments, and bruised fingers (but no blood):

Our two-month old chickens enjoying their “range”:

After many months, I finally sat down to tally up our Very Expensive Chicken Coop. I can’t find the receipts for the 5 gallon and 1 qt of paint, but I don’t care too much about that because we barely used up any of the paint!

28 2x4s $77.04
9 discount 2x4s $4.99
2 siding panels $40.11
2 1x4s $7.70
4 1×3 trim $13.60
3 OSB $20.80
fiberglass roofing material $96.33
poultry netting $15.59
nails $36.90
screws $9.07
corner braces $6.05
wire staples $3.24
hinge hasp $3.69
t-hinge $8.68
t-hinge $8.68
hinges $16.29
hinges $15.20
sliding bolt $5.75
door pull $3.03
door pull $3.03
gate hook/eye $1.62
gate latch $7.06
gate latch $5.75
paint – red and white ?
painter tape $4.34
Chicken Coop Costs
thermometer $3.58
heat lamp $12.95
heat lamp bulb $7.53
shavings $6.34
poultry feeder $3.79
chick waterer $3.24
chick waterer base $3.24
chick starter feed $15.39
chicks $9.59
Chicken Starter Costs
Total Cost $480.21

Whew! That’s a lot. We went $180.21 over my original $300 budget. This wasn’t exactly an exercise in thriftiness — we didn’t scrounge for material, didn’t have much on-hand to use other than a couple 2×4’s in our garage, and didn’t shop around. It was more of a training exercise for Steve (he practiced his newly learned framing skills) and a marriage-building exercise for both of us (working on communication and patience). Plus I learned how to use a Skilsaw and other fun power tools.

Let’s set the price of free range eggs at $5/dozen, which means (if my math is correct) we’ll “break even” after we get 1152 eggs from our chickens. (Well — probably more in the 1300 range, because every bag of feed is another 28 eggs or so.) Let’s hope our chicken-keeping experience is more long-term than short-term!

Will design logo for iPhone

Or, My Fastest Logo Design Job Ever.

My coworker-friend-whom-I’ve-never-met-in-person, AKA SharePoint Queen herself, Heather Waterman, happened to ask me the other day if I wanted her old iPhone since she upgraded to a 3G. After finding out that it would impact us by $30/month for the data plan, I decided to go for it and asked how much she wanted for it. She said, “If you want to do a text logo for ‘Waterman Design Group’ we can trade for the iPhone… something simple.”

I had some time this afternoon while I was waiting for Steven to take a nap and pulled out my sketchbook to play with letter shapes. After several false starts, I started going with a W-crown, thinking of Heather as “SharePoint Queen,” but somehow that just didn’t fit the “Design Group” idea. I happened to notice an earlier idea (upper right) where the D and G shapes reflected each other and came up with the two on the bottom right, which were pretty close to how the final logo turned out.


Of course I had to mock it up in Illustrator to make sure it would work. I did 1-3 first and sent a quick screenshot to Heather, who happened to be on IM. She liked the D/G of 3 and the W/M of 1. I put those together to make 5, then tried #4 for more of an overlapped “N” shape. We both liked #5 better — I liked that the overlapped “M” could also be viewed as a backwards “N,” so you can either emphasize WaterMan or WatermaN — or kind of have WaterMaN all smushed up in there. Heather has a nice last name for a wordmark!


Next I tried some color variations…


But ultimately Heather decided she liked the original black/grey version, so then I played with the final logo with her company name.


Total time: 1 hour, 10 minutes! That’s what you get when you have a dash of inspiration with fast Illustrator skillz and immediate feedback.

As it turned out, my logo rates compared to the amount she was thinking of selling it for turned out to be just about the same, so we were both very happy with the trade. Now I’m looking forward to joining the iPhone crowd!