D E S I G N I N G W O M E N
What happens when a designer hires a designer? Well, usually problems. But, you know, I've always believed in the famous words by Bill Bernbach, founder of the famous New York agency Doyle Dane Bernbach (DDB) -- who once said:
Never do anything yourself
if you can hire someone else to do it for you...
especially if they can do it better!
So, when shopping for a designer to knock out a couple of quick WordPress sites for me, I ran across Rachel Cunliffe and her "cre8d" design crew. Aside from the fact that they are located in New Zealand, I decided to give them a try. Their portfolio is nothing less than stunning! But I anticipated problems from the very beginning since I'm not an easy client to get along with.
We needed a fully Web 2.0 enabled, blog-style web site for my brother's internet safety activities and I just didn't have time to dig in. We formatted up some graphic headers and sent them out to Rachel along with a deposit and a get-go. Needless to say we were not disappointed. The site "SafeNetting.com" was born in just a day or two. It worked flawlessly and we were off and running.
Along came the project of refurbishing a very old web site and put it on auto-pilot, so I decided to call Rachel again.
This time, I was a bit more concerned about how we would work together. The old Harrisonburg site was set up merely to house client samples and proofs for my clients in hidden directories. The main "public" site was a patchwork of random content I had put together just as placeholders to make the site look believable. It was not income producing, and I held on to the domain to keep scalpers from getting it. I think I updated it about twice a year. So, even though it was not precious to me, I did want it to be a presentable site since it always shows up on the first page of Google.
With very little instruction -- other than criteria for feeds and functionality, Rachel came up with the beautiful make-over seen above. We bickered quite a bit about type, color and CSS tweaking, but that was just the typographer in me acting up. Rachel put it together, created the wonderful header graphic, and filled every last criteria in the design statement -- about three weeks out.
All along, Rachel seemed to second guess me. She would suggest a fix that was either exactly what I was thinking, or something I never thought of but was perfect. It's now on cruise-control, and I don't have to do anything if I don't want to! With the proper feeds from local news and blogs, along with a Flickr feed to change the photos and an OpenX feed to change "ads" for local nonprofits, the site is truly updated every 8 hours or so with fresh content and fresh graphics. Sweet.
The site will live on, promoting non-profit organizations in the area at no cost -- I'll have a little fun uploading my photos to Flickr and occasionally posting a feature article. Very sweet.
Rachel Cunliffe began blogging in 2002 and quickly moved into designing blogs for clients all over the globe - from personal blogs to business blogs, entertainment blogs to research blogs and all sorts in between. Poke around her site and you'll see some pretty impressive work for someone so young. I'll show you just a few here
Since 2003 she has been running a number of award-winning community websites with her husband Regan. This gives her a unique viewpoint to draw on -- first-hand experience running sites gives you some good insight when designing for others.
Stephen Merriman is the programmer for cre8d, and he knows XHTML, CSS, PHP, MySQL, WordPress and Drupal inside out. He too made substantial suggestions in the makeup of the site's functionality. He's always speedy, and now is working up a make-over for another non-profit, converting it from Joomla (which I hate), to WordPress. He handily got everything moved over to WordPress looking exactly like the original site. Beautiful! (Oh, by the way, Stephen is also a top Java programmer, finishing in the Top 100 worldwide of this year's Google Code Jam competition!)
I've been so pleased with their work, and our great relationship, I've challenged the firm with the 20th anniversary makeover of the DTG site. That's right! This site, gets a make-over. And I'm quite looking forward to it, as we plow through design statements and concepts.
So this really hasn't been quite like our regular "Designing Women" feature -- but it sure does fit, and I can speak from first-hand experience too! But folks, do me a favor and don't call Rachel until she's done with the Design Center site. Okay?
If you would like to have DTG readers visit your digs in a Design Center monthly Field Trip, just let us know. Tell us a little about your corner of the world and we'll get dates going!
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