Web Design

Last Edited – June 6, 2010 by Randall Crock
Filed under: Graphic Design, Personal, Programming

So recently, I have been working on some other design projects including building a website for my parents. They are trying to move away from the property manager they use to rent their Condo they have in Granby, Colorado, and asked me to build them a marketing site for it. I decided that I would build a site which focused on the property, but also gave them a chance to introduce our family which my parents think is very important. They are paying me, which means I will have money for both tuition and some fancy new toys to do the work with. I was able to knock out the basic design pretty quickly since the CMS I decided to go with (Drupal) has a really good way of defining templates. I decided to go with Drupal rather than something like WordPress for a couple reasons. First, Drupal is something I haven’t worked with before, and I figure I need some experience working with different systems to broaden my skill set. Second, WordPress is for more dynamic content, like blogging, and not for something which will be mostly static. Sure, I could have done it with WordPress and it would have looked nice, but it wouldn’t have been as easy to work with. You can take a look at the results so far here: Colorado Crocks.

As well as doing some web design for the page, I did a little graphic design and knocked out a logo and the header since I try to generate as much of a site’s images myself rather than recycling them. The header is a tracing of a picture my sister took of the Rocky Mountains when we were at the condo one time. The logo I originally thought was going to be a placeholder, or something which would drastically change, but it turns out everyone really likes it. It is a stylization of the view from our property, and I thought it would give a good feel and contribute to the overall look of the site.

For their site I also did some Flash development which can be seen on the Properties page. I built an XML customizable slideshow in Flash after many hours of battling with ActionScript. Everything is scripted, nothing is based on predefined animations, which makes it much easier to customize. Basically, you provide it with an XML document which breaks down into pictures which contains fields for the title, the description, and the URL of the image. It pulls this data, downloads the images and fills in the template I have defined. I haven’t worked with Flash in a really long time, and this reminds me why. ActionScript is the worst language I have ever used with the exception of Scheme (a LISP derivative used in WPI intro CS classes). On mroe than one occasion, Flash decided it didn’t know what some of the predefined libraries were and refused to import them. I eventually (read 20+ hours) was able to get everything working to a point, but I still have quite a bit of work to do as far as customization goes.

The toys I mentioned earlier are in fact the Adobe Creative Suite 5 Master Collection and associated services. CS5 Master Collection is really nice, and a huge step up from what I had been working with, which is CS3 Web Premium. Really all I needed was everything in Web Premium plus InDesign and Premire. The only package all of these come in was Master Collection, and I decided I needed them badly enough to fork over the cash for it. I was able to get a price reduction since I do own CS3 Web Premium, so I didn’t have to pay the full $2,500 price tag for it. I am looking forward to doing more tutorials with the new Illustrator tools and learning them myself. It is really nice to be able to do elliptical and transparency gradients at last.

I am also working full time at the WPI Helpdesk and am classified as a full time student since I am taking two classes, so between those and my extra projects I have been keeping busy, hence not updating this at all. I am trying to update more frequently, but every so often I forget that I actually have a blog. Is there anything you would like me to write about? If you think of something, feel free to comment!

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